Initially, WordPress started as an online blog. Fast forward, the site has now evolved into a complete content management system or a backend software that can be used to power any other website including an e-commerce website.
WordPress for e-commerce is the most popular platform for the website owner, but it doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for everyone. But if it works for you, here are some reasons why it would be a good option.
- You want to take full control of your website
- You want to forego the monthly fees of an e-commerce platform such as BigCommerce or Shopify.
- You want to build other sites that are not related to e-commerce, i.e., blogs, pages, etc.
- You want to build a small site as you grow.
- You aren’t affected by technical work. By default, WordPress sites are built to make the process of owning a website more accessible for first timers, but they need to have some basic knowledge of how to run it.
- You have no plans of integrating a complex payment system. For instance, you plan to use Paypal, Google Wallet, or Amazon, and not using your server to process payments.
- You want a simple platform where you can get a team of developers together to work on large projects and grow.
In this tutorial, we will provide step-by-step guidelines on how to set up a WordPress e-commerce website using the WooCommerce plugin.
That said, let’s get started.
Step 1: Install WordPress
The first step is to install WordPress on a hosting account with your domain name. This might sound difficult at first, but it’s a simple and easy process. If you don’t have a domain name and hosting account, you need to register one first from one of the different hosting/domain providers in the market.
E-commerce sites require more memory for PHP since they are a bit complex than a regular blog.
If you want a small site with several hundred products and not much traffic, you can use a shared Linux hosting account with a large memory from 64m and above or preferably 256m. You can check out sites such as InMotion Hosting, SiteGround, or HostGator.
If you are dealing with thousands of products and visitors, you will need a managed WordPress hosting account (you can choose from the best WordPress hosting providers here) with more advanced features, such as a VPS hosting account from InMotion or WP Engine.
Step 2: Install WooCommerce Plugin
All WordPress plugins have a similar installation process. Go to your WordPress Dashboard, click Plugins, then Add New. Search for WooCommerce in the search box.
Then, hit the Install Now button.You will see a text asking you to Activate. Go ahead and click on it.
Once you have activated your plugin, you will see the WooCommerce’s on-screen setup wizard to help you install the plugin. The wizard will take you through the initial settings. To start, click Let’s Go.
WooCommerce requires several pages to function. So, get the key store pages created. Create the following pages to get started.
- Cart page - This will be the shopping cart where visitors can confirm their order before going to check out.
- Shop page - where you will display your products.
- Checkout - in this section, customers can pick their preferred shipping/delivery method and proceed to pay for the item.
- My account - This is more of a profile page for the already registered customers to view their past orders.
Having confirmed these details, click Continue and WooCommerce will set these pages for you.
Setup your location
You then need to set up the location of your store. These few details will help to define your business origin, units, and currency.
Now, click the Continue button to complete the setup.
Include the Sales Tax and Shipping Details
Tax is an essential aspect to consider when running an e-commerce store. WooCommerce will help you through these steps.
First, you need to decide whether you’re going to be shipping physical goods or not. Depending on your choice, WooCommerce will pre-set the rest of the shipping details in the settings sections.
WooCommerce provides an excellent tax module to help users figure out the tax rates depending on their store location.
So, if you plan to charge a sales tax, simply check the main box as shown below. Once this is done, a new set of boxes will pop-up with instructions on what to do next.
Hit the Continue button to proceed.
Select a Payment Method (Paypal is recommended)
Next, you will require to select a payment method for your e-commerce store. Payments seem to be one of the trickiest part of running a store. It’s recommended to use Paypal as your mode of receiving payment for a start, but WooCommerce also offers other options on the same.
Again, hit the Continue button when done.
Step 3: Choose a Theme for your Ecommerce Store
Next, you will need to select a theme including the design and layout for your online store. WooCommerce offers tons of unique designs tailored for your store. By default, WooCommerce works well with any theme on WordPress. Those themes come with excellent features that make your store look great.
It is recommended to use the default WooCommerce theme known as Storefront. The default version is free, and it's enough to get you started.
Alternatively, you can go to ThemeForest, the largest directory with WordPress themes and navigate the options available in the e-commerce section.
Once you select your preferred theme, ensure your individual pages look good.
Step 4: Add Your Products
Now that WooCommerce is successfully installed, you can go ahead and add your first product.
To launch your store, you need some products. To create your product, go to the dashboard, click Products, then go to Add Product.
You should see a classic editing screen on your WordPress. Here is how it should look like:
The following section will be displayed:
- Product name
- Description of the main product. In this field, you are free to include any information about your product. You can also include images, headings, columns, and even videos. Simply what you want to include.
- Product data area. Here you can set the type of product you want to add. Specify whether you want to make it downloadable or just a virtual product. In this section, you will also find several other sections with different features. They include:
- Linked Products
- Product Short Description. In this section, include the product description that will appear on the product page.
- Product Categories. This section will group products in their respective categories.
- Product Tags. Helps to organize your product’s database.
- Product Image. Here you include the image of your product.
- Product Gallery. You can include other images of your product to display its unique features.
Once you’re done with the product section, just hit the Publish button. Congratulations, you have just added your first product.
Now your E-commerce store setup is done and you have added a product successfully. Follow the same process to add more products to your database. If you love the control that WooCommerce gives you, go ahead and install it and start your online store.