To begin your very own online store might appear to be a daunting and scary task, especially if you feel like you don’t know all the steps and find it particularly hard to find information online or you just simply feel like you lack skills to work with anything technology related. Even though it might seem terrifying, but it is not the most difficult task to set up your own online store, if you follow the necessary steps. The good news is that anybody having a computer or a laptop can set up their own online store in minutes, and it doesn’t even require any particularly exceptional skills.
What You Need To Get Started
If you are planning to start your own online store then there are three things that you need to get started:
- A Name for Your Store
A domain name is a name you give to your online store, it is recommended to choose a name that you are happy with, as this will be the name of your store. Even though it is possible to change the domain name later, but if people begin to identify the store with a particular name, it will create a lot of confusion with the name being suddenly changed, and people might not be aware of the change or the new name.
- A Web Hosting Account
Web Hosting is the space on the web that provides different services. For in order to have other people see your website, you will need to upload or publish your website with a web hosting service. The web hosting account will be a space for your website on the web.
- An SSL certificate
SSL certificate helps make your website more secure, which enable you to accept personal and vulnerable information like credit card numbers, which are extremely confidential information and requires you get an SSL certificate to make your website secure. The SSL certificate also enables you to receive payments from credit cards without any hassle.
SSL certificates usually cost $69.99 every year, which is quite expensive especially for a startup cost, but fortunately, there is the option of Bluehost, which is an officially acclaimed WordPress extension besides being a WooCommerce preferred provider of hosting services. Bluehost offers its customers a free and ready to use domain name with a certificate of SSL, and an additional rebate on services that include web hosting. This means you don’t need more than $6.95 per month to get started. This is quite ideal.
It will take less than 30 minutes to set up your own online store with WordPress.
If you plan to use Bluehost, then it will automatically install WordPress and WooCommerce plug-in on the website you’re using. Once everything is installed, you need to choose the type/ kind of site website you wish to launch. The options are Business and Personal or another link that “I don’t need help. We recommend you choose “I don’t need help”. Once that is done, closing the WordPress wizard will lead you to the admin dashboard of WordPress. You will first need to select the Settings option and then you shall be headed towards the General Page where you can setup title and description for your WordPress site.
Once you have set up the title as well as the description for your WordPress site, you will need to setup your HTTPS to be able to put SSL into proper use. The hosting package for WordPress comes with a ready to use and free SSL certificate. You will find that the domain name of your store has been configured and your SSL certificate has been pre-installed on it. All you will need to do is configure so that your WordPress online site gets loaded with https rather than HTTP.
You will need to change the address of your WordPress as well as a website to be able to use https rather than HTTP, and you can do this by going on to the Settings page and then going to the General page. You will see the option “WordPress Address (URL)” and “Site Address (URL)” go ahead and change the addresses from HTTP to https. Please remember to ‘Save Changes’ once you are done. Once you are done with these steps, the rudimentary or the basic setup is completed and you can now move onto setting up your online store.
Setting Up Your Online Store with WooCommerce
Choosing the right platform for your online store is extremely important and one that requires you to choose wisely. One of the most popular platforms is WordPress with WooCommerce. Most people prefer using WordPress with WooCommerce because it is extremely flexible. It only requires some setup that is common for all plugins. WooCommerce is known to be the world’s largest e-commerce platform. Unlike other e-commerce solutions, which requires you to pay some money every month to keep it running, it could also get quite expensive, and the payment options also get limited unless you pay the additional charges. WooCommerce is completely free and it does not require any additional payments to avail it.
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, that is free and an open source, and needs to be installed and activated much like any other plugin, in order for it to function. If you are planning to set up your own online store, then WooCommerce is the best option. Not only is it free, but it does not require a license for you to use it, it does not expire, and there are no hidden costs. It is one of the most popular and widely used e-commerce plugins for WordPress that are available in the market.
Remember that before you are able to actually begin selling your products, you should keep a couple of things in mind that require setting up, such as currency, shipping info, and payment options.
Once you have decided to use WooCommerce, you will see “welcome to WooCommerce” notification pop up on the Admin Page of your WordPress site. When you see it, click on “Run the Wizard” option from the notification drop-down. Your WooCommerce setup wizard will be launched, and you will notice the “Let’s Go” option which you must click on.
WooCommerce requires a few important pages such as shop, cart, checkout and account. You must select the ‘Continue’ option at the end of the page to let these pages be automatically created. Once you are done with creating the pages, you must choose the location, currency, and unit measure you plan on using for your shop. If you have selected your currency and location, you will again need to select ‘Continue’ to go on to the next step.
The next step is entering your shipping information and tax details, once you select the options that you want, you must select the ‘Continue’ button to proceed to the later steps.
You can sell physical and affiliate goods that require shipping options as well as digitally downloadable merchandise, using WooCommerce. You will need to select the option if you plan to ship products or you might just ignore it if you plan to sell only digital goods.
After having done that, you will need to attend to the tax questions, remember that with WooCommerce you’ll be notified of your taxes and you can add them easily to your products. If you feel unsure or uncertain you can go back later and update your tax information from the WooCommerce settings page. Now you will need to select ‘Continue’ option to proceed further.
Your next step is to choose the payment method your online shop would use. WooCommerce allows transactions via PayPal, Stripe payment options with PayPal standard, by default. However, there are still various other payment options that you can use for your WooCommerce site, which you could install at a later time. PayPal Standard is the easiest and quickest way of accepting payments, all you need to do is to enter the email address your PayPal account is contacted with and select the ‘Continue’ option.
Many people prefer using PayPal as well as Stripe. Using Stripe would allow you to have your customers update their individual credit card details on the space where they check-out, without them having to recede you’re your website and enter a different webpage for PayPal. Setting up Stripe is extremely easy; do it by just simply adhering to the instructions given on your WooCommerce page. Once you have completed all these steps, your WooCommerce powered online shop is absolutely ready to function.
You will be required to select the “Return to WordPress dashboard” link to be able to depart from the setup wizard. Once you are done with the setup, you should pick a store design and add merchandise that you can sell.
Pick a Store Design
After your domain and core, WordPress installation is complete, you can design the aesthetics of your website. Choose the variety of website design options available from the innumerous themes it offers. Most of the free themes on WordPress offer eCommerce support. For giving your website a unique and compelling look, you can also choose from one of the premium themes. Premium themes come with added features, extensions and daily updates that make life easier.
You will need to go to ‘Products’ and then select ‘Add New’ page so that you can add any new product. You need to furnish a title and detailed description of the new product. You will notice ‘Product Categories’, on the column situated towards your right, under which you will find ‘Add New Product Category’, click on it to make a new categorical collection for the product, this will make it easier and allow your users to filter and browse through products much easier. Once you are done with that, look for the ‘Product Data’ column, which you will find if you scroll down from the previous category. The product data option allows you to enter information on the product, information such as inventory, pricing, and shipping, etc. Below the product data column, there will be a small space provided for you to add a short description of the products. The users or customers will be able to see this description when they are browsing through multiple products. Finally, towards your right, find boxes that you can add to main product images and form a gallery for products. After you have entered all the necessary information and the product images, and you are content with it, you can then select the publish option for making the products go live on the website.
Customizing WordPress Themes
Themes affect how the WordPress site looks to the customers, and for any WooCommerce store, themes also control the way you display your products. There exists a variety of different themes, both free and paid, that you can choose from.
The Bluehost account will automatically install to your website the storefront theme, which you could customize to your liking.
Go on to ‘Appearance’ and from there to ‘Customize’ page, and the theme customizer will be loaded, from where you will be able to pick and choose from different themes and can change these settings to your liking. Once you are done with this, you are ready with your online shop. The only thing you would want to now be getting started adding additional extensions on your own website.
Extending Plugins for Your Online Store
The additional things on your website that you now need to add are things like contact form, an about us page, besides other miscellaneous details. You will need to use WordPress plugins to customize your website more extensively and for adding features such as galleries, contact forms and sliders.
The WordPress plugins are application extensions that help to incorporate new attractive features. There exists a plenty of different plugins available, to pick and choose from. Choose the ones that best fit your criteria and the ones you need.
After having followed all the steps, you are now ready to go live with your online store.
A Responsive Step Guide to set up a WooCommerce Online Store:
If you use a WordPress powered website, WooCommerce is the most popular and convenient way to set-up your online store. WooCommerce is preferred by more than 3 million WordPress users. And why shouldn’t it be? It is packed with many different features and fits in seamlessly with your website design. So, you will not need to compromise on the look of your website to get started with WooCommerce. It is not only convenient but offers a large number of customizable options and even advanced features which makes it perfect for experienced users. Although new users may find it a little bit difficult to operate WooCommerce, it easy to use once you get into the swing of things. Following are the simple steps to set up your own digital store with WooCommerce:
1. Install the WooCommerce Plug-in offered by WordPress
WooCommerce is a free plug-in that is offered by WordPress and hence, requires installation and activation before it can start functioning properly. You can do this easily from your dashboard by clicking on the WordPress Admin menu function and choosing “Add New” on the “Plug-In” menu options. Once you have installed and activated the plug-in successfully, you will be ready for the next step.
2. WooCommerce Walkthrough Wizard
Once you have reached the second step in this set-up, you will notice a WooCommerce walkthrough wizard pop up on your screen. This wizard will guide you through the different steps if the WooCommerce plug-in. While you can choose to skip it (and then view it later if you so wish), it is recommended that you go through the tutorial completely. Hence, on the pop-up click on “let’s go” so that you can begin your set-up successfully.
3. Set-up Screen
Once you have started with the tutorial, the wizard will show you the different set-up pages, and prompt you to provide important information that is required to set up the different pages. Don’t worry, you can always alter this information as and when you please, but in these initial steps, WooCommerce tries to make it easier for the customer to see what the end results will look like. The details of the different screens of the walkthrough wizard are listed below.
On the “Page Setup” screen, WooCommerce informs you about the different essential pages like Shop, Cart, Checkout and a My Account page that it will automatically set-up for you. Of course, you can not only alter the look and information on these pages later on but can also choose which of these pages should be featured on your website.
On the “Store Locale” screen, WooCommerce prompts you to choose the country or state where your shop is based, the currency that will be used by your store, the unit in which your products will be weighed, and the unit to be used to mention product dimensions.
After the “Store Locale” screen you move on to the “Shipping and Sales Tax” screen. Here you can inform the WooCommerce wizard whether you will be shipping physical goods to your customers’ or note. It is important to note that WooCommerce can be used to sell both physical as well as digital goods. You can also input whether or not you will be charging sales tax on your products, if you do not, then you will not need to input any additional details. However, if you do charge sales tax, you will need to input whether you wish to show the prices of your products inclusive or exclusive of sales tax.
The “Payment” screen is the penultimate step in the set-up wizard. Here you can choose which third-party payment gateway you want to integrate into your website. At the moment, WooCommerce only supports PayPal and Stripe. However, you can add additional options through extensions. Apart from these, you can also add Cash on Delivery option as well as the option for bank transfers and cheques.
And with that previous step finished, you will reach the final page of the walkthrough wizard, where you can either allow WooThemes to collect some usage data to help WooCommerce to function better or not. The ad, finally, you will be ready to move on to the next step.
4. Adding New Products
Once you are done with the walkthrough wizard and go back to your dashboard, you will notice two changes. This is the addition of two new options WooCommerce, the general settings area of your online store and, Products, the settings area of your products page.
To add the first product of your e-commerce site, toggle over to the WordPress Admin option, then click on “Product” and finally the “New Product” option.
Then you must type in a title and a product description for your product.
From this page you can move on to the “product data” page where you can input all your important product information in the “General” tab such as whether the product is virtual (this removes the shipping option and requires you to upload the downloadable file) or physical, whether or not it is on sale (sale prices may be time sensitive),
There is also an “Inventory” tab that allows you to keep a track of your stock easily by inputting the quantity of the product available, stock status and whether or not you would allow backorders.
Under the “Shipping” tab you can input the dimensions and weight of the product.
The “Attributes” tab allows you to input additional information about the product so that customers can know more about the product they will be purchasing.
Finally, after entering the product data, you can move on to entering a short description of what your product is and what it does. You can include an image for your product under this widget and place it in different categories and add appropriate tags.
5. Managing Products on WooCommerce
Once you have added the products that you will sell on your e-commerce website to the WooCommerce plugin you can manage them by clicking on the “Products” option on the WordPress Admin.
Once you are on the page where you can manage your website you will be able to see all products and their information on your screen easily at a glance.
6. Managing your WooCommerce
You can manage WooCommerce via the WooCommerce tab. Here you can see various details about your e-commerce store such as coupons, orders, and reports as well as customise and ad extensions.
7. Managing your Orders
You can do this by going to WordPress Admins then clicking on WooCommerce and the selecting Orders.
If you sell virtual goods, there is not a lot for you to do here apart from seeing who bought what, but if you sell physical goods, you can see what purchases are being made. From this, you can organize which orders are being shipped, processed and canceled.
8. Adding and Managing Coupons
You can add coupons by going on to WordPress Amin, then WooCommerce, then Coupons and selecting “Add New” under this option. You can manage your coupons by selecting Coupons under the WooCommerce tab.
For managing coupons the coupon data widget allows you to edit your coupon discounts and restrictions. The “General” tab allows you to input general details like whether it is a product discount, or a cart discount, its expiry date, its value etc.
The “Usage Restriction” tab allows you to set restrictions on how the coupons can be used, whether it can be used with other coupons or not and whether the customer needs to have a minimum cart value to avail this coupon. You can even restrict certain email addresses from using this coupon.
The “Usage Limit” tab allows you to put the restriction on the number of times one customer can use the coupon code.
9. Viewing reports
WooCommerce allows you to easily view reports regarding your shop such as customer acquisition and sales of different products across different periods. This data can also be exported by you in a CSV sheet. You can view all this by going on to the WordPress Admin option then clicking on WooCommerce and selecting Reports
10. Viewing the Settings Option and How to Use it
You can view this page by going on to WordPress Admin, then select WooCommerce and then Settings.
Here you can alter every individual aspect of your website no matter what it is, till you are satisfied with it. Here you can alter your general information such as location, currency use etc., your shipping information, product information as well as product display. You can even input detailed information about what taxes you will be charging and what it should be calculated on. In the “Emails” tab you can set up and alter customer support emails and information.
11. System Status
Go on to WordPress Amin then select WooCommerce click on system report to view your corporate system information such as versions, loggings etc.
12. Add-Ons to your WooCommerce
Go on to WordPress Admins then WooCommerce and select Add-Ons to access the plethora of add-ons and extensions that are specifically designed to make WooCommerce more accessible and user-friendly. Each extension is designed to fit the WooCommerce website and is easy to install.
13. Promote your products better with WooCommerce
Promote your products through different social media websites and by adding social media share timings and giving out special discounts and free shipping methods in WooCommerce. Choose from numerous free contest plug-ins available with WooCommerce and set up a giveaway to a target audience. It also allows you to create a newsletter using MailChimp and keep your audience informed about new developments at your online store.
Reasons why you should choose WooCommerce:
It is free – WooCommerce, a WordPress eCommerce plug-in, allows you to sell anything under the sun in an innovative manner and the best part about it is you do not have to pay a penny. It’s absolutely free. It offers numerous extensions and features besides being absolutely flexible. It is free to download and allows open-sourcing.
It is flexible – WooCommerce allows users a wide range of flexibility without having to be fully versed in the technical aspects. Categorize your products, add prices and individual features to each. Moreover, you can also sell affiliate, external, virtually downloadable and physical products through WooCommerce.
Innumerable customizable options to choose from – While using WooCommerce, in spite of its free availability, it offers a whole range of customizable options so that you can make your online store stand out amongst the rest. There are 39 enabled themes users can choose from, using the WooThemes store. Most of the themes are free. You can change the predetermined CSS styles and color themes besides employing the special features that come with every theme.
User-Friendly yet Professional – WooCommerce is extremely professional in its approach but allows a user-friendly platform, without you having to delve into the technical aspects or serious coding issues. It offers detailed order tracking mechanisms, shipping options, coupons codes and tools that are aimed at proper customer engagement. Sellers can add discounts to a product, update their delivery or availability anytime.
Built-In Analytic System – WooCommerce allows a built-in analytic system, particularly helpful for start-ups that do not know what statistics are required for proper analysis or how to put an analytical system in application to their website. The built-in system offered by WooCommerce gives a clear idea of existing statistics. Statistics are presented via graphs and simplified. Total sales, sales covered on a particular date are mentioned with ease.
It keeps your online store secure – As it enjoys regular updates, you do not have to worry about security issues with WooCommerce. It is always compatible with WordPress and bug issues does not intervene much. The makers add bug fixes and updates efficiently and regularly.Its one click update system accompanied with its open-source nature that allows it to accommodate faster developments makes it one of the most desirable eCommerce platforms.
It provides more room for content marketing – Other e-commerce platforms need you to have a separate blog, but WooCommerce allows an integrated blog extension which lets you practice responsive content marketing and SEO optimization for your online store. Educate your targeted audience about your products or climb higher up in Google Results with content that is compelling and responsive. WooCommerce allows you to integrate WordPress and e-commerce together, thus allowing you to enjoy best results.