How to Make an Online Store, A Simple Guide for using WooCommerce.
by Team RobertMening
After going through all the steps, your final e-commerce site should look professional. However, if you plan to provide services instead of physical products, we recommend to setup regular business website and not an online store.
- As said, WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. You need to install it and activate it as any other plugin
- Most importantly it’s free as WordPress. No license needed, and no one will ask money at certain point
- It’s one of the most popular e-commerce plugin in the Web
- It’s one of the feature-rich plugin that has been created for this purposes
- It´s very user friendly to set it up and configure
- The setup shouldn´t take more than 4-5 hours
- All your chosen WordPress design/theme will function – you don’t need specially change your current website design!
We have long experience of using WooCommerce and it simply gives you all you could ever need for building a professional e-commerce store.
You can sell any kind of product with WordPress + WooCommerce?
There could be:
- physical products
- other people’s products – as an affiliate,
- digital products (e.g. software, downloads, ebooks),
- bookings (e.g. for appointments, or anything else that can be booked),
- services …
Our team could even say that WooCommerce allows you to sell anything, that has a price tag.
Please remember, that it is easy to use especially, if you’ve already managed to get a WordPress site launched.
How to build an online store with WooCommerce and WordPress
NB! We are going to focus on essential things, so that you can build quickly a simple functional e-commerce store with WooCommerce and WordPress.We will guide you through, do not worry!
STEP 1 Register a Domain Name and Get Web Hosting
In order to create a website or an online store, you’re going to need two things:
- Domain name is your store’s unique address on the web. Something like YOURONLINESTORE.com
- Web Hosting a service that connects your site to the internet
During our professional career we have mostly used Bluehost or A2 Hosting as a web hosting and domain registrars despite the fact which part of the world our customers are from.
They both offer affordable web hosting (including free domain name for a year) and reliable.
Bluehost and A2 Hosting are one of the few recommended official hosting providers by WordPress.org.
Your Costs? Starting from $3.95 per month from Bluehost and $2.96 per month from A2 Hosting
We have also put together the Top 10 WordPress hosts if you are looking for the alternative.
To start with, you click here go to Bluehost.com, or A2Hosting and then choose the “get started” button.
Next you can select a hosting plan for your store. You can get started with the cheapest option, labeled “basic” :
However we really recommend the Choice Plus plan or Pro if you want to expect more traffic to your website .
Which bells and whistles are included into Choice Plus and Pro plans you can read from the graph below. There are listed all you would need to run a serious website.
NB! A2 Hosting starts at $2.96 a month which is a super prices considering the service quality they are providing. BTW $2.96 is one of the cheapest price levels on the market.
Choose the right a Domain Name
The next step you need to pick a domain name for your new online store.
Deciding and registering a domain name should not be done in haste. It is a valuable marketing and search tool that should successfully lead customers to your site.
Careful deliberation and research should be applied, as it might be the most important decision you make when carving out your slice of the online market.
For the successful online store domain name should match with your company name or with the products/services you provide.
Once you make your domain choice, you can finalize the setup and pay the initial hosting fee.
Great! You’ve just got yourself a domain name and a hosting plan to go along with it.
Full disclosure: We earn a commission whenever you end up purchasing Bluehost. This helps us to keep this free site up and running. Thanks for your support.
STEP 2 Install FREE WordPress
With this step your adventure with WordPress starts and you’re going to install WordPress on your hosting account.
Do not worry this isn´t difficult at all. Just go to your Bluehost user panel which is available at my.bluehost.com. Bluehost will send you also a link in the confirmation email.
Now when you are there, take “My Sites” and “Create Site”
Click on it and follow the on-screen instructions. The whole process will be taken through step by step. No need to worry!
If you need more help on picking a domain and installing a WordPress, please click on following guide that we have prepared for you.
Now you should have managed to install a blank WordPress website.
- You can check it by punching in your main domain name (e.g., YOUONLINERSTORE.com)
- Or you can log in to the admin panel by clicking to YOUONLINERSTORE.com/wp-admin
After all the steps taken, it´s time to add functionality to your e-commerce store using excellent WooCommerce plugin.
STEP 3 Install WooCommerce Plugin (FREE)
To start with the fun go to your WordPress Dashboard / Plugins / Add New. Once there, punch in “woocommerce” in the search field and you will see the following picture:
Now you have to click the “Install Now” button next to the plugin and after that Activate button appears. After you have clicked on Activate button you’ll see WooCommerce’s on-screen launch/setup wizard.
This wizard makes the installation process very easy. To start, click “Let’s Go!”
Create the essential store pages
E-commerce stores demand particular kind of pages that function properly. With the help of WooCommerce following pages will be created:
- “Shop” – this is the site in you online shop where your products are going to be displayed
- “Cart” – this is the shopping cart where customers can adjust their order before proceeding to checkout
- “Checkout” – this is where the customers choose the shipping/delivery method
- “My Account” – this is a profile page for registered customers, where they will be able to view their past orders and manage other details
At this stage of the WooCommerce wizard just click the “Continue” button. WooCommerce will install those pages for you.
Choose a Payment Method (PayPal is recommended)
Obviously accepting online payments is at the core of any e-commerce store, WooCommerce offers several options. Please see below:
PayPal and Stripe are two of the most popular payment options. However our recommendation is that you integrate your site with both. Choose and just click on their corresponding checkboxes.
You are free to select from the WooCommerce settings panel any other payment method that you think would make sense for your business.
NB! With the chosen online payment systems you have to sign up separately, because WooCommerce has just made the integrations with your online shop.
Click “Continue” when you are ready.
At this phase, your basic e-commerce site setup is ready, and you’ve just built a blank e-commerce store with WooCommerce!
Now you need to start to add products:
STEP 4 Add products to your online shop
To start inserting the products, go to your dashboard, then Products / Add Product:
What you’re going to see is a classic WordPress content editing screen:
1. Product name.
2. The main product description. This field allows you to enter as much information about the product as you wish. On top of simple text you can also add there images, columns, headings, even videos and other media. Basically, whatever makes sense!
3. Product data section. Here you can set the type of product you’re adding, and whether it’s a physical, a downloadable or a virtual product. NB! Services are considered virtual products too. In this section there are also separate tabs for various parameters of the product:
- – General. Here you can set the price and taxes
- – Inventory. Here you can manage stock levels
- – Shipping. Set the weight, dimensions, and the cost of shipping
- – Linked Products. Here you can link different products for the cross-sales purposes
- – Attributes. Set custom product attributes. For example if you’re selling hats, you can set alternative colors here, etc
- – Advanced. Additional settings. Not essential
4. Short Description. This is the text that gets displayed on the product page under the name. Make it as a short summary of what the product is
5. Product Categories. Group similar products together. e.g., “T-shirts.”
6. Product Tags. An additional way to help you organize your database of products. Works just like the standard WordPress tags
7. Product Image. The main product image
8. Product Gallery. Additional product images to showcase
Don´t worry, WooCommerce will display tips to explain what’s the purpose of each field:
Once you have finished all described above, click on the Publish button and your first product has just been added into your online store!
Now when you have inserted your products to your database, the products section in the dashboard should look like this:
STEP 5 Choose a theme for your e-commerce store (FREE)
We always recommend to our customers to add most of the products, because without any products in the database, you wouldn´t be able to see how different themes work. Now you can assure, that with chosen theme everything are in order also from a visual standpoint.
WooCommerce vs your currently used theme
As explained ealier, WooCommerce is the WordPress plugin and this means, that it works with any WordPress theme. Good News! If you have already chosen a WordPress theme and want to stick with it.
If you are looking for the alternatives then you can go with special WooCommerce-optimized themes.
The official WooCommerce theme is called Storefront. The default version is free. Free version should be enough to get you going with your new awesome online store.
Alternatively, please visit the e-commerce section at ThemeForest. ThemeForest is the biggest directory of premium WordPress themes on the web.
Regardless your decision regarding the themes, you have to make sure, that the individual pages of the store look good.
The rules of e-commerce store design
Here you can find all the crucial aspects of the design, that makes the online store design good and profitable:
- Like in any site, the design needs to be clear and not confusing in any way. A confused customer will leave without the purchases
- The center content in your site needs to grab the visitor’s attention. In the center block you always display your products
- You need to decide how many sidebars you need and also disable the sidebar altogether for some pages (more information later)
- Responsive and mobile-optimized site is key factor for the success. Frustrating mobile browsing experience will make the visitors leave from your site immediately.
Around 75% of people on the internet own nowadays a smartphone
- Clear navigation panel. You need to have clear menus that are easy to grasp – so that your visitors can find quickly the page they’re looking for
Keeping all that in mind, here’s what you can do with the individual pages of you online store:
Your Shop page
If you’ve gone through the WooCommerce setup wizard, your shop page can be found at YOURSHOPDOMAIN.com/shop
As always this is a standard WordPress page – you can edit it via WordPress dashboard Pages section.
This is what it looks like on the Storefront theme
As always, nice product images are the key for the good customer experience. Very often images are pretty much the only and the most important parameter how the customers make the purchasing decision. You should work on your product images more than on anything else.
Individual Product pages
In order to see those, click on any product listing from the Shop page.
If you’re using a well-designed theme for you online store, you shouldn’t experience any difficulties on this particular page.
Basically, the only thing you can do is to adjust you individual product descriptions and to make sure that everything fits visually.
This is product detail page:
Next is products page:
Shopping cart is another crucial page that will be adjusted through Dashboard / Pages.
Here we really recommend to go for the full-width layout. On this page you want to give the buyer only few options, because their focus should go to proceeding to checkout.
Checkout is one of the most important page of them all. This is the page where buyers finalize their orders and make the payments. We recommend to avoid any tweaks on this page, except one. This is the same logic as with the Shopping Cart, the Checkout page absolutely needs to be full-width. Try to avoid any customer distraction and help them to finalize their order as quickly as possible.
Click on Dashboard / Pages (just repeat the process you went through with the Shopping Cart page).
At this phase you are almost ready to launch your new online store. However there are some possibilities to extend the store´s functionality.
STEP 6 Extending WooCommerce functionality!
WooCommerce is impressive e-commerce solution because it has tens or even hundreds of extensions and plugins available.
We have listed some of the most useful ones:
Let’s start with the extensions – the official add-ons that have been approved by the WooCommerce team.
You can find official add-ons that has been approved by the WooCommerce team from this page.
The catalog is impressive and we have listed some of them that we think are worth considering. NB! You do not need all these extensions, just to consider!
Some of them to consider:
- Shipping extensions. –These are going to be useful if you want to automatically integrate your store with the official shipping rates from companies such as UPS or FedEx
- Accounting extensions –Here you can find different accounting tools for your WooCommerce store
- Payment gateways – These extensions allow you to accept more payment methods on top of the standard PayPal. In general, the more methods of payment you can afford to accept
(NB! those gateways are often paid), the better, but be reasonable and benchmark with your competitors
- WooCommerce Subscriptions – Customers can subscribe to your products or services and pay a weekly, monthly or annual fee
- WooCommerce Bookings – Customers can book the appointments for services without leaving your site
- TaxJar – Put your sales tax on autopilot
- EU VAT Number – For those operating within the EU
If you don’t want to spend any money on new extensions, there are also available free category.
Plugins that supercharge your e-commerce store
Here you can find a list of WordPress plugins that will supercharge your online store:
- WooCommerce Multilingual – You can have a fully multilingual WooCommerce site
- Social Share Buttons by GetSocial–Your customers can share your products with their friends and family through the social media
- Contact Form 7– Site visitors can contact you directly
- UpdraftPlus– Back up all your site content, including your products and other store data
- Yoast SEO – Improve the SEO of your whole website
- Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin – Improve the SEO of your products and other areas of your e-commerce store
- MonsterInsights – Integrate your site with Google Analytics
- iThemes Security – Security presets for your website
- W3 Total Cache – Speed up your website through caching
Creating an Online Store in a Nutshell
Making your own awesome online store with modern WordPress tools isn´t so difficult at all. Five years ago this would have cost you between 5000-7000$. Now you can do everything yourself!
Here you can find once more time the important checklist that has to be remembered while making your e-commerce store:
Before you begin
- Get a domain name, sign up for web hosting, get a WordPress and install WooCommerce (Step3)
- Make sure that your new blank WordPress site works properly (no obvious errors popping up, etc.)
- Install and activate the main WooCommerce plugin
- Go through the WooCommerce setup wizard, paying close attention to:
- – Getting the four required pages created (Shop, Cart, Checkout, My Account)
- – Setting up the store locale
- – Setting up sales tax and shipping
- – Picking initial payment methods
Add most (or all) of your products or product categories to the store
- Select the right WordPress theme for your e-commerce store. Go either with your existing theme or browse through other possibilities. Review the rules of e-commerce store design when doing so
- Adjust your Shop page
- Adjust individual product pages
- Adjust the Cart page
- Adjust the Checkout page
- Install the payment gateways that you want to use
- Consider some of the shipping extensions
- Consider an accounting extension
- Browse through other extensions and the free category
- Consider installing all of the plugins that will supercharge your e-commerce store:
- Yoast SEO
- Yoast WooCommerce SEO
- WooCommerce Multilingual
- Contact Form 7
- Social Share Buttons by GetSocial
- iThemes Security
- W3 Total Cache