WooCommerce has become a popular e-commerce solution. According to TrustRadius, it powers 12 percent of all e-commerce stores. WooCommerce isn’t an ordinary cloud-based builder, however. It’s an open-source WordPress plugin that provides the tools, features and functions needed to sell products online. How do you build an e-commerce store with WooCommerce exactly?
Because it’s a WordPress plugin, WooCommerce requires a WordPress installation. You’ll need to install WordPress on your website to use WooCommerce. WordPress’s core architecture supports plugins. WooCommerce is an e-commerce solution that’s packaged as a WordPress plugin.
Keep in mind that WooCommerce works best with the self-hosted version of WordPress. You’ll have fewer options to customize and optimize your e-commerce store with the hosted version. WordPress has a self-hosted version that you must download and install manually on your server, and it has a hosted version that’s available at wordpress.com. You should use WooCommerce with the former version.
Download and Activate WooCommerce
With WordPress installed, you can proceed to download and activate WooCommerce. Visit wordpress.org/plugins/woocommerce and click the download link. After downloading WooCommerce, upload it to your website as a new plugin via the admin dashboard.
Launch the Setup Assistant
Activating WooCommerce will automatically launch its setup assistant. The setup assistant will walk you through the steps of setting up WooCommerce. You’ll have to enter basic information about your business, for instance, including its address. You’ll also have to select the type of industry in which your business operates as well as the type of products it sells.
The setup assistant will recommend several extension tools, such as WooCommerce Payments, WooCommerce Tax, WooCommerce Shipping, Mailpoet, Jetpack, and Google Listings and Ads. The extension tools themselves are free to download, but you’ll have to pay to use some of them.
WooCommerce Payments is a payments processor, so you’ll have to pay a per-transaction fee to use it. WooCommerce Tax, on the other hand, is a completely free-to-use extension tool that calculates sales tax automatically based on the customer’s location. The setup assistant will display a list of recommended utility tools. If you don’t want a particular utility tool, simply uncheck it before proceeding.
Select a WooCommerce-Compatible Theme
You’ll need to select a WooCommerce-compatible theme. The setup assistant will ask you to select a theme. You can choose a paid theme or a free theme. Alternatively, you can select the option to continue with your existing theme.
While WooCommerce works with most themes, some themes aren’t compatible with it. Make sure the theme you select is compatible with WooCommerce. Otherwise, it may break some of WooCommerce’s essential features. All of the themes displayed in the setup assistant are compatible with WooCommerce. Of course, you don’t have to fully commit to using a theme. Even if you select a theme in the setup assistant, you can change it later.
Complete the ‘Start Selling’ Checklist
After selecting a theme, the setup assistant will load a new page with a “start selling” checklist. You should see a half-dozen or so tasks listed here. The first task is completing your e-commerce store’s details. Unlike the other tasks, though, it will likely have a green checkmark next to it, indicating that you’ve already completed it. The information that you enter during the setup assistant process will determine your e-commerce store’s details.
If you selected a paid theme or one or more paid extensions during the setup assistant process, you’ll need to purchase them. Adding paid extensions is the second task on the “start selling” checklist.
Another task on the “start selling” checklist is to add products. You’ll have to add each product that you want to sell. Fortunately, you don’t have to manually add them. You can add products using a prebuilt template, or you can add products by importing them from a comma-separated value (CSV) file.
You’ll have to set up payments to use WooCommerce. For this task, select one or more payment processors. WooCommerce Payments is a great choice. You won’t incur any setup fees or monthly fees with it. WooCommerce Payments will only charge you a per-transaction fee.
In addition to payments, you’ll have to set up shipping. For this task, you’ll have to enter your business’s address — assuming you didn’t enter it during the setup assistant process — and a default shipping cost. Go through the “start selling” checklist while completing all of the tasks.
WooCommerce Tips for Success
Once you’ve completed the “start selling” checklist, your e-commerce store will be ready to go. But there are a few additional steps you may want to take.
If your e-commerce store has a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) digital certificate, you can configure WooCommerce to force a secure connection on checkout pages. Forcing a secure connection means that shoppers who visit a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) checkout address will be redirected to the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) version of that checkout address. The option to force a secure connection is available in the checkout settings of WooCommerce.
You may want to enable product reviews. While WordPress doesn’t offer a built-in product review feature, WooCommerce does. When enabled, WooCommerce’s product review feature will allow customers to leave a star rating and a written review for products. To enable product reviews, click “Settings” on the WooCommerce menu. On the settings page, click the “Products” tab at the top. The option to enable product reviews is found on the products settings page.
Don’t forget to assign products to relevant categories. WooCommerce uses categories to group products. You can create categories by clicking “Products” on the WooCommerce menu and choosing “Categories.” Product categories work like regular WordPress categories by offering a way to categorize content. Product categories are simply designed for products added to WooCommerce, whereas regular WordPress categories are designed for posts.
You shouldn’t judge an e-commerce solution by its price. WooCommerce is a free e-commerce solution, but it rivals many of the top paid e-commerce solutions. You can use it to turn a WordPress website into a functional and optimized e-commerce store. Just active the WooCommerce plugin and launch the setup assistant.