The ease and low overhead of starting an online store is a wonderful feature of our current digital world. It’s understandable that so many people want to offer products for sale on their own website, where they have control over the content and purchase process. Not to mention, selling on your own website helps keep costs down.
Given the popularity of ecommerce, it’s not surprising that there are so many options out there for running your own online store. It can be confusing to navigate the landscape of plugins and services, so that’s where I come in to help!
Before we get started, a note: If your business needs a large-scale online store, and that store is going to be the main focal point of your website, I would recommend considering a service like Shopify. You can choose between many ready-made templates, and they will sort out the hosting and support. In the long run, you will end up paying more than with WordPress, but I would argue that the time you save would be worth it.
However, if you are like many of my clients, you may just want a “store” page on your existing WordPress website, that sells a few products like books, t-shirts, and so on. In this case, I think the best path is to install the WooCommerce plugin.
WooCommerce integrates nicely with most themes I’ve tried, is easy to use and looks great. The base plugin is free, but you’ll need to pay extra for extensions with specific functionality.
Whether you are selling digital downloads or physical products, WooCommerce can handle the entire customer experience.
How to set up WooCommerce
To set up WooCommerce, first install and activate the plugin in your WordPress admin dashboard via Appearance>Plugins. You will then be taken through the setup steps, where you can tell WooCommerce various things about your store, like which currency you will be selling in, whether you’ll be charging tax, and which payment gateway you want to use.
The free version of WooCommerce supports several payment gateways. I would recommend Stripe, if it’s available in your country. I have found it to be the easiest to set up and use. If it’s not available, the second-best option is PayPal.
Products are added in the same way you would create a page or post in WordPress. You can enter the product image, description, price, and so on. If it’s a digital download, you can check the box for “Downloadable,” and add the file URL.
The main index page of your website will then show all your products, and customers can click through to see and buy each individual product.
So that’s the basics, but of course there are many more advanced ways to enhance your online store. Some extensions I’d recommend looking into are:
- WooCommerce One Page Checkout plugin
- Booster Plus for WooCommerce
- Woocommerce Custom Tabs PRO
Do you have an online store? Comment below to let me know about it!