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How to Build Your First Online Shop Using WordPress and WooCommerce

If you are looking for an easy and affordable way to build a user E-commerce site, WooCommerce is an excellent option. 

In fact, it currently powers over 1.5 million E-commerce sites all around the globe.

One of the most popular free solutions for E-commerce on WordPress and one of the most widely supported WordPress plugins, WooCommerce has been acquired by WordPress creator Automatti and is likely to become the official WordPress E-commerce solution in the near future.

And, best of all, it is completely free. Wondering how to build your online shop using WordPress and WooCommerce? Take a look at this step-by-step guide.

1. Setup the Site in WordPress

The first step is to choose a host and get your site up and running. You will need to buy your domain name and choose a web hosting service to host your site.

Keep in mind that until your site is ready to go, you will probably want to discourage people from finding you. First opt to discourage search engines from indexing the site in your settings on the WordPress dashboard, and then use a coming soon plugin to let visitors who do find your site know that it isn’t finished just yet.

Related Article: Opening New Doors: E-Commerce Tips for Small Businesses

2. Find a WordPress Theme

Next, you will need to choose a theme for your WordPress site. There are tons of free themes that you can choose from, as well as many that you can purchase. You could also commission a designer or developer to make you a unique theme.

Samples of WordPress themes at WooCommerce. Generally speaking, a professional-designed theme costs $45 - $150.
Samples of WordPress themes at WooCommerce. Generally speaking, a professional-designed theme costs $45 – $150.

Once you’ve got a theme, you will need to go to Appearance>Theme Options to set up a number of details. Make sure that you upload your logo, set up page layouts, add any relevant social media links, and create a child theme so that you don’t lose any code changes should you update your site.

3. Install WooCommerce, Setup Your Online Store

At this stage of the game, you will need to install and set up WooCommerce. Once you’ve downloaded WooCommerce, install it by going to Plugins>Add New>Upload.

Next, keep in mind that the setup entails a variety of steps (depends on the elements you want for your online shop), a breakdown of which can be found below.

3a. Preparing a product

To create physical or digital products, you will need to create attributes and terms. First, you will need to create “attributes,” which are essentially critical product attributes, like clothing sizes and product colors. The specific attributes that are appropriate for your e-commerce site will depend on what you are selling.

Second, you will need to create “terms,” which are the specific options offered for an attribute. So, if the attribute is size, then the terms would likely be “small,” medium,” and “large.” Once you have established the attributes and terms, you can move on to actually creating the products. To add a new product, go to Products>Add New.

To edit an existing product, go to View All Products. You will then need to add descriptions to a product description and product content to each product. The product content should be a comprehensive overview of the product, while the product description should just be a brief description. The content will be displayed underneath the product, while the description will be displayed at the top of the product page. Lastly, you will want to set up product categories and tags.

Product categories can be used to group products together, while tags can be used to attach keywords to your site, ensuring that customers are easily able to find what they are looking for. Both products and tags will help you develop an e-commerce site that is well organized and user-friendly.

Related Article: The Essential Checklist: Must Do’s When Starting an E-commerce Website

3b. Create a checkout page

Payment gateway extension available at WooCommerce. Source: WooCommerce (Source).
Payment gateway extension available at WooCommerce. Source: WooCommerce (Source).

Next, you will need a checkout page to ensure that customers can easily purchase products from your site. If you are going to take direct payment on the site, keep in mind that you will need to have SSL enabled. List all accepted payment methods (Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, etc.) along with accompanying images, let people know you are using secure SSL-encrypted payment and set up an off-color box in which customers can input all payment information. And, of course, make sure that you display the refund and return terms on the checkout page.

3c. Set up shipping

After a customer has purchased a product, you need to make sure that product is actually delivered to him or her. That’s where shipping comes into play. You will need to consider whether you want to use flat-rate shipping, how you will be shipping internationally, and local shipping options. WooCommerce offers shipping with UPS, USPS, and FedEx, and shipping settings can be tweaked to accommodate your unique business needs.

3d. Create promotions

If you want to have any kind of sale or offer discounts, you need to make sure that you know how to create product promotions. To offer a discount on an individual product, input the sale price in the Product Data window and schedule the sale start date.

4. Install Plug-Ins

At this stage, your site should be up and running. You should have everything you need to make your first sale and start building a business. However, to take your site to the next level, you will need to install some WooCommerce plug-ins in order to improve the functionality and professionalism of your site.

Which plugins should you install? Let’s take a look.

4a. Product Add-Ons

Ideal for adding customization options, such as engravings, to products, this gives customers more choice and control over the product they are purchasing. You can apply this extension universally to all products on your site or on a product-by-product basis. This is ideal if you have an e-commerce business that relies heavily on customer customization, such as a florist, jeweler, or craft store.

Learn more: View plugin page here.

4b. Table Rate Shipping

This convenient plugin automatically calculates shipping rates, giving your customers automatic access to shipping costs. All you need to do is enter the size and weight of your products.

Learn more: View plugin page here.

4c. Dynamic Pricing

Dynamic Pricing allows you to easily run sales and offer discounts, ensuring that you can easily alter the prices of your products based on a variety of factors. For example, you can offer loyal customers discounts or bonuses, set a storewide 10 percent discount, or opt to trigger a clearance sale once your stock falls below a specific pre-set quantity. 

Learn more: View plugin page here.

4d. Product Reviews Pro

Research shows that the majority of consumers consider product reviews before making a purchase online. And the majority of consumers view such reviews as a credible source of information, with nine out of 10 consumers saying that they trust online reviews. Product Reviews Pro allows you to easily integrate reviews into your E-commerce site, helping you drive more sales and boost revenue.

Learn more: View plugin page here.

4e. Customer History

Customer History provides you with a tremendous amount of insight into consumer behavior, allowing you to track how customers are using your online store. This not only allows you to track consumer purchase history, but also lets you see how your store is functioning, ensuring that you can easily ascertain what’s working and what isn’t crucial to ensuring that you can tailor your website to facilitate excellent user experience.

Learn more: View plugin page here.

4f. Email Follow-Up

This plug-in ensures that you are easily able to keep in touch with previous customers via customized and personalized follow-up emails, helping you cultivate brand loyalty and trust. You can set post-purchase follow-up emails at any interval you would like, whether it’s an hour or a week after purchase.

Learn more: View plugin page here.

4g. Points and Rewards

It’s no secret that customers love reward points. Points give customers something to work toward and look forward to and help entice them to come back to your store again and again. This plug-in allows you to assign each product points and then displays each customer’s point balance when he or she is logged into your store.

Learn more: View plugin page here.

4h. Recommendations

Have you ever noticed that E-commerce giant Amazon is constantly recommending products you might like based on your purchase history? Amazon does this because it is tremendously effective in driving sales, and now you can do it too with this useful plugin. The plugin groups like products together and considers individual customer purchase history when making recommendations, offering customers what they might want to ensure that they buy more.

Learn more: View plugin page here.

Related Article: Helpful Feedback: What Customers Like to See in an E-commerce Site

Wrap Up

All in all, WooCommerce is an excellent way to set up a compelling E-commerce site that is effective and user-friendly. It’s both affordable and straightforward, and it can deliver an excellent customer experience. Once you’ve got your site set up and running, keep in mind you will want to do continual maintenance and upgrades to develop SEO, improve site speed, and craft an excellent user experience.

The bottom line is that a well-crafted and well-maintained WooCommerce site is an outstanding way to drive sales.

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