Introduction to online stores
Ordering food, buying clothes, grocery shopping, buying and sending gifts, TV subscriptions, audiobooks, booking a plumber service, considering real estate services, landscaping, florists, bakeries, custom-made shoes, baby products, party planning services, travel guides…
It’s ALL (and more!) happening online.
Good on you for thinking eCommerce!
Let’s grab a cup of coffee and talk all things eCommerce and here’s hoping by the end of this we’re brewing something great together ?
Shopping online is not a privilege for a few anymore – everyone, across the globe – has taken to online shopping like fish to water!
If you are a first-time entrepreneur, a mom-and-pop store, a small business owner or someone with an idea to sell something – you have to get online and sell online.
Building an eCommerce website and creating an online presence presents you with the huge opportunity to reach out to a large target audience, spread brand awareness, engage with your audience and build an unmissable brand presence.
Let’s dive deeper into what an eCommerce website is, why you need it, how you build it, ways to optimize it, how Bluehost can play a critical role here, how to make a profit and a lot more to make the most from your eCommerce website.
What is an online store or an eCommerce website?
Any website that allows people to buy and sell physical and/or digital products and services over the internet, instead of a physical location, is an eCommerce website. An eCommerce website accepts payments, manages orders, shipping, logistics and all other elements that allow people to buy and sell.
Much like a traditional brick-and-mortar store, an eCommerce website allows buyers and sellers to do business transactions, but it all happens over the internet. eCommerce websites, also known as online stores, are thus changing the way people do business today, allowing for greater reach and easier accessibility.
Types of eCommerce website models
Although the purpose of every eCommerce website is the same – to buy and sell products and services online – the type varies depending on the business model.
Business-to-Consumer (B2C) – a business sells its products/services directly to the end user/consumer.
Business-to-Business (B2B) – a business sells its products/services to another business. This could include selling to a wholesaler, a distributor or a retailer.
Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) – Often known as a marketplace, C2C allows consumers to buy and sell goods from other consumers directly.
Consumer-to-Business (C2B) – a consumer offers goods or services to businesses.
Key features of an eCommerce website
All eCommerce websites must be able to perform certain key functions that assist the process of buying and selling, these include:
– Accepting orders
– Receiving payments
– Providing shipping and logistics details
– Offering customer service
How an eCommerce website offers these features or how much more they offer is an individual business decision. For example, an eCommerce website may choose to offer different payment options, or an AI-powered virtual shopping experience – there is so much and more one can do. However, the four basic features listed above are necessary and common to all eCommerce websites.
Now that you know what an eCommerce website is, what the types of eCommerce websites and basic elements are, let’s look at why you should consider getting an eCommerce website for your business.
Why do you need an online store?
If you already run a physical business, it’s understandable that you’re wondering, ‘Why do I need an eCommerce website?’
And if you are about to start a business, you may be wondering why be online and not set up a physical store.
Well, you can do both! If you have the scope, the time and the bandwidth to run both a physical and online store, that’s great – you can enjoy the benefits and joys of both. However, a physical business can be restricting. Unlike an eCommerce website, which does not restrict you in terms of location, exposure, customers, reach or growth.
Think about it. There are only so many people who can visit your store. These are customers who probably live in your locality, city or even state. However, with an eCommerce website it doesn’t matter where your customers live or where your store is located – it’s accessible for anyone and everyone, globally!
Additionally, renting/buying online space for your eCommerce store (domain name and web hosting), is way cheaper than renting/buying a physical store. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – an eCommerce store allows you to do everything virtually, making it a crisper, easier, error-free and more efficient experience for all.
Of course, you’ll still need to be on top of things like inventory, vendors, customer needs and changes in customer demands but you will have tools and applications to assist you every step of the way.
Sure, you might miss the occasional warm smile or a job well-done handshake from your customers – but there are ways to experience those wins as well. We’ll talk more about that later when we get into details about engagement and marketing tips for a successful eCommerce store.
For more information on the difference between brick-and-mortar retail vs eCommerce, you can read the article How to Pick a Business Model.
Need more convincing? Here’s a quick snapshot of why you need an eCommerce website:
– You can make money online – that’s always a win!
– Your business can be open and accessible to a global audience 24/7
– It’s easier and more convenient for your customers to do business with you
– You can tap into a broader target market as well as acquire new markets
– You can offer a multi-channel experience like buy online and pick up in-store!
– Reduce payroll and other expenses specific to running an offline store
– Collect and use valuable customer data to grow and get more targeted results
– Build brand identity and create a powerful social presence
– Increase brand awareness and boost engagement with your target audience
– Use tools, techniques and platforms that are specially built to help eCommerce stores get the most of their efforts
And that’s not all! As we keep understanding different layers and elements of an online store, you’ll find more and more unique benefits of running and owning an eCommerce website.
Before we dive deeper, let’s look at some statistics around eCommerce websites.
Statistics around online stores
Love them or hate them – you can’t ignore statistics!
Yup, we’re talking numbers. Why? Because they will help you get a solid insight into the world of online stores.
In 2021, sales from online stores amounted to 4.9 trillion US dollars and this number is expected to grow over 50% in the next four years (Statista).
Every week, 58.4% of internet users buy something online (Datareportal).
31.7% of internet users discover brands through search engines, making it the most common channel for brand discovery above TV advertisements (Datareportal).
WooCommerce is the most used open-source eCommerce platform with 3,427,679 live online stores powered by WooCommerce (BuiltWith).
By the year 2040, it’s estimated that 95% of all purchases will be made through eCommerce (Nasdaq).
2014-2025 worldwide retail eCommerce sales (in billion US dollars):
Now that you know the basics of what an eCommerce store is, the different models and why you should get online, let’s get started.
Before you create your eCommerce website, you need a well-laid-out plan and strategy. When you have a plan, execution becomes easier and more effective. Additionally, with a focused strategy, you’ll be able to better it along the way.
Your existing skills will help you, but you need to be ready to learn new skills and understand the world of eCommerce.
That said, it’s easy – no matter your experience or skills.
Deciding your target audience and products
It’s now time to take a step back so we can leap ahead!
Before you go ahead and set up your eCommerce store you need to know who you are setting it up for and what is it that you’re going to offer to them. In other words: your target audience and your products.
Your target audience is the people who you are going to try and sell your products to. This is the audience that you have a solution for, and you know your products will help them.
In fact, your target audience is and must be the focal point of all your decisions – marketing strategies, ad campaigns, emails, messaging and more.
Think of it this way, let’s assume you sell fashionable clothes and accessories for teenage girls. They are your target audience. Now, if you use very formal language or a dry way of talking, and use images of older women wearing your products, it won’t click with your real audience. Instead, your brand messaging needs to be fun, quirky and catchy so teenage girls or parents of teenage girls can relate to your products. However, you’ll only be able to do this if you know who your target audience is.
Let’s say your eCommerce store sells home décor and furnishings. How will you know and define your target audience? Through a deep and thorough market analysis, you can easily define your target audience – who they are, what they are looking for, what solutions they need, how you can help them, where they live, how old they are, what their preferred language and platform to communicate is, and a lot more.
This brings us to a very important aspect – your products.
It is extremely important that you analyze your products and understand if there’s a gap that you need to fill or how you’re filling an existing gap in the market. Your products must meet the needs, demands and expectations of your target market.
What does that mean? Using the previous example, your teenage fashion clothes and accessories eCommerce store will only get noticed when you identify what this niche is looking for. What are the existing brands doing, or not doing, that you would do differently? How will your products stand out, and what problem are you solving? For example, teenage fashion accessories need to be durable and resistant to harsh conditions – you can’t expect a teenage girl to protect her accessories from water, dirt etc. Can you use an impact-resistant fabric? Can you offer a product bundle that includes cleaning products? Can you start a monthly/quarterly subscription box for your products?
Knowing your target audience will help you sell a better suite of products and services. Which in turn will help your eCommerce store get noticed, sell more and do more.
We now go on to the next step – naming your store and designing a logo.
Naming your store and designing a logo
To get started, you need a name for your online store – the name you want your customers to know you by. That makes sense, right? After all, everyone, every place, every city, country, street, market, store, brand and object – has a name – a unique individual identity.
For an eCommerce store, the right name is crucial to build brand familiarity, pique interest and help people identify your brand.
Let’s assume you want to set up an online store that sells handmade soaps, and your Unique Selling Point (USP) is natural, chemical-free ingredients. Your brand name must communicate that or be relatable to your industry/products. So, you think of all the words that directly come to mind when one thinks of soaps: soap, foam, bath, fragrance, clean beauty, well-being, natural, calm, handmade, etc.
Now, you might want to be as direct as ‘The Handmade Soap Company’ or ‘Natural Chemical Free Soaps’ – but this is an online store – so think about how long the name will be. How will it read as a website address? How easy will it be for people to remember, and how does it stand out? Let’s look at our example: www.thehandmadesoapcompany.com – See? It’s too long, too much!
Instead, you can choose something like ‘Clean Beauty’ or ‘The Clean Soap’. It’s catchy, it gives you the option to add more clean-ingredient products in the future, it’s relatable and it’ll read just fine as your website name.
In a nutshell, the right name for your eCommerce store will be relevant, relatable, easy to remember, easy to type and search, and most importantly stay top of mind.
Now this takes us to the unique visual identity of your eCommerce store – the logo. The logo of your eCommerce store will be the face of your brand. You want people to instantly recognize it. In addition, it must be attractive yet simple and meaningful. McDonald’s big yellow ‘M’ is a strong example of how the simplest logos can have the biggest impact!
Taking the same example as above, your handmade, chemical-free soaps must be represented in a way that makes an instant visual connection. The color green is a good choice, since it’s associated with natural, environment-friendly products. If we take inspiration from the globally recognized Starbucks logo, you could have a green logo with white soap suds. You get the gist, correct?
Also, remember that your logo must be consistent across online platforms. While your website may allow you to create and display an intricate logo design, think of how it will be seen on, say, a social media platform like Instagram – that tiny circle of a profile picture!
Crisp, relatable, unique, original, catchy and impactful – both your eCommerce store name and logo must be exactly that!
Alright then, you now know what your store is called, what the logo looks like, your audience and your products – I think you’re ready to get online.
Let’s start with getting a domain and a hosting plan.
Getting a domain name and hosting plan
If your eCommerce store is called ‘Clean Beauty’ and you want your website to be www.cleanbeauty.com, then cleanbeauty is your domain name and .com is your domain extension.
However, thinking of a name isn’t enough! To truly claim that name and make it your brand identity on the world wide web, you need to buy and register your domain name.
Let’s see how to do that with Bluehost.
Go to the Bluehost’s Domains page and type in your desired eCommerce store name in the search bar and click on ‘Search’:
The domain extension is set to .com. Because this is one of the most popular domain extensions, it may or may not be available. For example, here’s what popped up for our search above:
Now what? You can either use a new and interesting domain name that better suits your business or look at the recommended alternatives that show up for your search. Here are our recommendations:
You have the option to either choose from different domain extensions without changing the domain name or slightly tweaking the domain name to get the .com extension and the prices for all.
Say, you have decided to use skincleanbeauty.com and add it to your cart. You can now see the total annual cost with Privacy and Protection features (which we absolutely recommend you get!). When you click on Proceed, it asks you if you want to proceed with or without a 30-day hosting trial:
If you don’t want the trial, just go ahead and complete the payment. If you choose to proceed with the trial, a 1-month free basic hosting gets added to your cart. Next, just complete the payment process and voila! You are now the owner of www.skincleanbeauty.com! (You’re not – it’s still available, but you know what I mean?)
Wait a minute – You bought a shiny new name, but you still need to buy a piece of land to put it on!
Yup, your website will only be live and running when you have a Hosting plan supporting it. So, let’s go get a Hosting plan for your eCommerce store now.
For an eCommerce store, we recommend you get WooCommerce Hosting. It is specially designed for online stores, allowing you to build, promote and sell via a secure and powerful eCommerce store.
Here’s a look at what you get with Bluehost’s WooCommerce Hosting plans:
What do these plans allow you to do? With these WooCommerce Hosting plans, you can build your eCommerce store, get all the tools and plugins you need to run, manage and build a fully functional store, launch your website, and a lot more.
In the sections below, we’ll talk in more detail about what WooCommerce is, and how you can start your online journey with these WooCommerce Hosting plans.
How to build an online store with Bluehost
With all our planning and basics checked, it’s time to start building.
Setting up an eCommerce store with Bluehost is easy and hassle-free – and we’re not just saying this! We’ll actually show you just how easy it is.
In this section, we’ll give you a step-by-step tour to build your eCommerce store.
With Bluehost, you have two options to build your eCommerce store – get experts to build it for you or DIY (Do It Yourself). If you prefer working with design professionals to build your eCommerce store (and do a lot more!) just Request a Free Consultation and our experts will take it from there.
If you’d rather build it yourself, let’s get started.
As we’ve already discussed, the right hosting plan truly powers an eCommerce store, making it accessible, fast and secure for your store visitors. We also spoke about WooCommerce hosting being the most recommended hosting solution for eCommerce stores.
Taking this into account, the easiest way to build your eCommerce store is to purchase the right WooCommerce Hosting plan and let Bluehost guide you through the next steps. Before we discuss each step, let’s quickly look at what WooCommerce is, what it enables you to do and how you can build with it.
Why is WooCommerce the right choice for your online store?
An eCommerce store helps you take your online business to the next level by offering customers a safe, secure, and stellar shopping experience. If you’re a beginner and all of this sounds like confusing jargon to you, let’s break it down. First, let’s understand what WooCommerce is.
WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce platform built on WordPress. It is also available as an eCommerce plugin that can be integrated easily into WordPress websites. A WooCommerce online store aids in providing users with a personalized and powerful shopping experience.
In case you already have a WordPress website and plan to turn it into an online store, WooCommerce helps you easily convert your website into a fully functional eCommerce store. Along with a dynamic user experience, WooCommerce enables safe and secure transactions, as well as enhanced SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools to boost your eCommerce stores’ ranking on search engines.
What does WooCommerce enable you to do?
WooCommerce easily integrates into WordPress and offers easy and customizable features to set up your online store. It enables businesses to provide a unique, personalized, and dynamic shopping experience to their customers.
WooCommerce allows you to effortlessly sell both digital and physical products on your eCommerce store. It provides secure transactions, inventory management, plenty of extensions to add features to your store, and a user-friendly and accessible shopping experience to your customers to boost sales.
Why choose WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a free and open-source platform that allows you to easily modify and customize your eCommerce website. Here are 3 key reasons why you should choose WooCommerce for your online store:
Sell anything: WooCommerce allows you to sell all kinds of products across various categories. You can sell physical and digital products, services, subscriptions, online courses, and much more
Easy shipment: With WooCommerce, you can seamlessly ship your products across the world with reliable delivery and distribution options
Online payments: WooCommerce supports multiple online payment options such as credit/debit cards and various payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe and Amazon Pay that can be easily integrated into your eCommerce store
Here are some more interesting facts about WooCommerce:
– WooCommerce is the leading eCommerce platform with a market share of 36.68%
– 20.3% of WordPress websites use WooCommerce
– 8.7% of all websites use WooCommerce
– The WordPress.org directory has over 4228 WooCommerce plugins
Onboarding and setup
Building a website is the best way to establish your digital presence and grow your online store. WooCommerce Hosting is one of the easiest ways to build your eCommerce store, as it is specifically equipped to build, grow, and support your eCommerce store.
To build your website using WooCommerce Hosting all you need is to register a relevant domain name for your business, buy WooCommerce Hosting and start building your eCommerce store.
First, pick the right plan. With Bluehost, you have two amazing options to choose from:
Once you’ve selected the plan that best fits your needs:
1. Register your domain name
2. Reset your login password using the link sent to your registered email address
Follow the steps in the email and change your password. Next, you’ll be redirected to the Bluehost login page automatically.
Ta-da! Let the fun begin!
You can now start adding information about your eCommerce store, and all things unique to your business. This information allows the Bluehost setup wizard to work its magic and create your eCommerce store.
First things first, if you already have a WordPress website and you want to migrate to Bluehost, you need to pick a hosting plan to start website migration. If you have already bought a WooCommerce hosting plan, you can simply click on ‘Start Migration’ (as seen in the picture below).
If you’re creating an all-new website, click ‘Create your website’. And yes, it truly is the beginning of your adventure!
We will now start the setup process. You’ll see quick snapshots of everything we’ll be doing to set up your eCommerce store and the three pillars that will help you make your store uniquely yours – your content, powerful features and modern design.
Pause. Take a moment to think of all the planning you have done to get to this point. When you’re ready, click on ‘Start Setup’.
The Bluehost setup wizard needs to know a little about you so it can offer you a tailor-made setup process and offer you the right help and guidance through every step.
So, what’s your experience with WordPress? Are you a newbie, do you have a little understanding, or are you a pro? Select your experience and click on ‘Continue Setup’.
Remember, WordPress is easy and accessible for all levels of experience. So, be honest here as it’ll only make it that much easier for you to build that perfect eCommerce store.
Alright now, tell us what type of eCommerce store you are building. Is it fashion, apparel and accessories, health and beauty, or food and drink? You have to select the general industry/category that your store falls under.
If you don’t see the right fit, just type in the correct category to let the setup wizard know what type of store you’re building. Once you’re done, click on ‘Continue Setup’.
This one’s simple. Add your store address. If you have a physical store as well, just add the details for that.
However, if you work out of your home, at a co-working space, or you’re still figuring out all of these details, just share your personal address here.
We’re now setting up your tax information – this may seem tricky or confusing, but the best thing is that you can always change this information at a later stage. So, let’s say you don’t charge sales tax now, pick that option, and if at a later stage you want to configure tax rates and calculations, you’ll be able to easily do that with the click of a button – so just choose the right option for you at this stage.
It’s time to share some product information. Select one or all the categories that apply to you, then tell the setup wizard what types of products you will be selling in your eCommerce store. Next, select the range of how many products you will be selling and ‘Continue Setup’.
That’s the cool thing about WordPress – you can sell physical products, digital products, memberships, subscriptions, product bundles and even set up an eCommerce store that allows customers to make bookings or rent products – everything (and more) happens on WordPress!
This is our favorite part – you get a peek of what your potential website visitors will see.
As you start filling all the basic information about your eCommerce store, you can keep an eye on the bottom right Preview section to see how it’ll show up on the web.
Add your eCommerce store’s title and description, upload your logo and link all your social media platforms, if you already have those set up.
Click on ‘Finish’.
Believe it or not, your eCommerce store setup is all done – you have created the foundation on which you can now start building!
And hey, we got you! If you want to take some time to perfect this information, or you’re waiting for your final logo design to come through, you can skip this for now and come back to it later.
With the recently launched WordPress Onboarding, we now take you a few steps ahead where you can assemble a custom design in a few simple steps, and fill your toolbox with trusted solutions from Bluehost and our partners.
Here we get into the new, fun stuff! We offer the default wonder theme, along with the five additional theme styles it comes with. The exciting part is that you will see it with all the content you added till now.
Once you click on a style, you can further see that and other styles in detail, and play around with different formats. There is something nice about seeing your content with the design, right in the beginning, which makes a lot of decisions easier.
Now let’s into some more details. Here you can experiment with colors, fonts and even header options! How cool is that, right? You can see in real time what you site would look like with different headers, and other options.
We are almost there. The new Onboarding goes a step further and lets you pick a home page layout, right in the beginning. This is followed by a selection of some page layouts; you can pick and choose what you need basis your website requirement. For example, you may need a testimonial section but not a blog, or vice versa.
The last step is to choose from a set of plugins and services, to enhance your online store!
Well done! You’ve come a long way and we’re excited to be on this journey with you.
With the set up complete we can now go into our WordPress dashboard and start adding more features and functionality to our eCommerce store.
Take a break, pat yourself on the back and get ready to add payment and shipping information, add your products, add other important pages and more – all made easy with WooCommerce!
Using the Bluehost WooCommerce dashboard
Onboarding complete, we are now ready to take off!
You will now automatically be redirected to your eCommerce website’s WordPress backend dashboard. You’ll see the Bluehost welcome screen prompting you to get ready to launch (Yes, we are always excited to launch a new eCommerce store!).
The dashboard is divided into two halves. The LHS (Left-Hand Side) is the navigation section, where you can access your website’s pages, posts, plugins, WooCommerce online store, and so on. The RHS (Right-Hand Side) panel is where you can see the chosen window and make changes to your eCommerce website.
Spend some time exploring the backend, see what your options are, and once it all looks slightly familiar start setting up your online store.
Okay then! Let’s start playing around and get ready to launch. We’ll start by adding payments (yes, show me the money!) and shipping details.
How to add payments and shipping details
The first step is adding details of your online store under ‘Store Info’. During onboarding, you’ve already added the basic details of your store, including the store’s address and tax information. Now, we need to set up payments and shipping details.
To set up payments and shipping, follow the steps below:
1. Click on the ‘Bluehost’ tab on the left-hand sidebar
2. Go to the ‘Home’ tab
3. Click on the ‘Store Info’ tab
To set up payments, click on the ‘Payments’ button. You’ll see PayPal is set as the default payment option. You can either create a new account or link to an existing PayPal account.
If you already have a PayPal account then fill in the details and click on the ‘Save’ button or else click on the ‘Create an account’ tab and create a new PayPal account for your eCommerce store.
After you’re done setting up payments, let’s set up your shipping information.
Follow the same three steps as mentioned above to go back to ‘Store Info’. Then click on the ‘Shipping’ button this time.
Shippo is the default option for shipping. You can either create a new account or link to an existing account.
If you already have a Shippo account then fill in the details and click on the ‘Save’ button. Otherwise, you can click on the ‘Create an account’ tab and create a new Shippo account for your eCommerce store.
And there you go! You’ve already set up a critical part of your eCommerce store! Easy, isn’t it?
Apart from the options mentioned above, there are multiple other payment options like Stripe and Amazon Pay, and shipping options like USPS and FedEx shipping that you can use on your online store, and yes, these plugins are available with WooCommerce.
But wait, what are we shipping and what are we taking payments for? Yes, it’s time to add your products and services to your eCommerce store.
How to add products and services
Moving on to the next and one of the most important steps when it comes to setting up your online store – adding products and services.
How do we do that? Simply follow these steps:
1. Click on the ‘Bluehost’ tab on the left-hand sidebar
2. Go to the ‘Home’ tab
3. Click on the ‘Products And Services’ tab
4. Next, click on the ‘Add a product’ button
If you’re adding your first product, it’s a good idea to read the article ‘How to add products’ that is linked below in the dashboard.
You will automatically be redirected to the WooCommerce section where you can add the products you’ll be selling.
In this window, you can see four ways of adding a product to your online store:
1. Start with a template – this is perfect for beginners
2. Add manually – if you’re running a small store with minimal products this option is the best
3. Import via CSV – if you’re running a large store with several products this could save you the time to add each product manually
4. Import from another service – if you’re also selling elsewhere, then the product migration service will help you migrate to WooCommerce with ease
You will automatically be redirected to the WooCommerce section where you can add the products you’ll be selling.
Tip: Go with the ‘recommended’ option if you’re new, as it will guide you step-by-step.
Next, depending on the products you’re selling, select the appropriate option and click on the ’Go’ button.
A WordPress page will open where you can add your product with the help of guided pop-ups as shown in this GIF below:
Ta-da! You’ve added your first product to your online store. Repeat the process to add all the other products.
After you’ve added all your products and you want to make changes like publishing the post, categories, etc. you can simply go to the ‘Manage products’ option to manage your products.
To manage products in your store, go back to the WooCommerce backend dashboard > Bluehost > Home > Products And Services and this time, click on the Manage products button.
The following window will open. To make changes to your product, hover on the product you want to make edits to and click on the option that you need.
Another aspect to take care of when you are adding your products is to write compelling product descriptions.
How to write effective product descriptions
While a catchy caption or product image might persuade customers to explore a product, it is the product description that plays a vital role in the final buying decision. Whether your customer goes ahead with the purchase or not depends on how effective and convincing your product descriptions are.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while writing product descriptions:
1. Should be relevant to your audience, clear and simple
2. Focus on benefits and the product value for your customers
3. Be genuine and do not falsify information
4. Maintain a common tone and language throughout
5. Use keywords and phrases to optimize for SEO
6. Don’t use jargon and focus on making it reader friendly
7. Use appropriate product images complementing the description
How to brand your online store
After setting up payments, shipping, and adding products to your online store it is time to start creating your website pages. However, before we do that it is important to plan the look and feel of your eCommerce website.
Branding is an important aspect of every eCommerce website. The right website branding can help your online store stand out, add to the user experience, and increase the overall recall value. Some features that help build your brand include your website’s name, logo, colors and fonts, website tagline, and social media buttons, among others.
During the onboarding process, you may have already added some of your unique branding elements like the store name, store description, logo, and social handles. However, if you skipped that step or want to make any changes, you can always come back to your dashboard and do that.
With WooCommerce, you can easily brand your eCommerce store by modifying and customizing it to suit your business needs.
Want to see how you can customize? Here we go:
1. On your Bluehost WooCommerce backend dashboard, click on the ‘Appearance’ tab on the left-hand sidebar
2. Here you will see a drop-down menu of Themes, Customize, Menus, etc.
3. Click on the ‘Customize’ tab
4. The ‘Customize’ page allows you to change your website’s name, add a logo, layout, tagline, WooCommerce store and product details, and more
You can make changes to all of these on the left-hand sidebar. Your changes will be reflected in real-time on the right-hand side of the page.
Once you’re done and happy with the changes, click on the ‘Publish’ button for the changes to reflect in real-time.
Alternatively, since you have purchased WooCommerce Hosting from Bluehost to set up your online store, you can access the ‘Customizer’ window directly by following these steps:
1. On your WooCommerce dashboard, click on the ‘Bluehost’ tab on the left-hand sidebar
2. Go to the ‘Home’ tab
3. Click on the ‘Pages’ tab
4. Next, click on the ‘Store layout’ button to customize your website
5. The ‘Customize’ page window opens directly
Now you can go ahead and make changes in the same way we did above.
How to design your website
Your website design depends on the type of products/services you are selling. Say, for instance, you’re selling fashion and beauty products. Then your branding elements must reflect the right mood and the images used must further enhance your branding. You want people to think about fashion and beauty from the moment they land on your website – colors, images, layout – everything must scream fashion and beauty. (No! We are not saying you need to be loud, but that you should create a strong impact). No matter what you sell or offer, your website design and branding must accentuate it, rather than be a mismatch.
Nevertheless, there are certain elements of a website that remain the same, regardless of the type of eCommerce website you’re running.
Till now, you’ve added products to your online store, created crucial website pages, and added your logo and website description. It is now time to design your website. Although the pre-installed WooCommerce theme takes care of the basic website design, it is recommended that you make changes to your eCommerce website to differentiate it from other websites using the same theme.
Here are a couple of things you should take care of when designing your website:
1. Defining your brand guidelines – font and color
2. Changing the store layout
3. Installing a new eCommerce website theme* and additional plugins, if required
4. Adding website pages keeping in line with the brand guidelines
5. Adding product and background images relevant to your brand
6. Setting up and strengthening your SEO
7. Building an email list of your customers
8. Highlight Testimonials, and Product Reviews
9. Adding a blog (WordPress Posts)
*For a detailed explanation on how to install a theme on your eCommerce website, follow the steps mentioned in this guide.
It’s now time to start designing your website. The first step in designing your website is creating website pages!
How to create pages
Let us now understand how to create a web page on your eCommerce website. Some of the eCommerce website pages include the About Us page, Contact page, Home page, Product page, and so on.
Let’s look at how to set up a home page:
1. Click on the ‘Bluehost’ tab on the left-hand sidebar and click on the ‘Home’ tab
2. Go to the ‘Pages’ section
3. Click on the ‘Home Page’ tab
Next, a new WordPress page window will pop up. With Bluehost, you get a pre-installed WooCommerce theme, so our home page is pre-designed. However, it is important to rework your home page so that it represents your business and brand persona.
Start by changing the images and text displayed, the color, font, button, permalink, and more as per your brand guidelines.
Once you’re done with the changes, you can take your page live by clicking on the ‘Publish’ button located in the top right-hand corner.
Congratulations, you’ve successfully created your website’s home page!
Now go back and follow the same steps to create the rest of the pages and bring your brand to life, one page at a time!
How to edit pages and posts
A WordPress website is made up of Pages and Posts. In a nutshell, when it comes to editing your eCommerce website powered by WordPress you are basically editing the WordPress posts and pages. Let us first understand what these terms mean:
Pages: A website is composed of several web pages. Each website page is unique because of the information it conveys. Some of the eCommerce website pages include the About Us page, Contact page, Home page, Product page, eCommerce store page, Blog page, and so on.
Website pages are standalone pages with content that doesn’t change for a long time. Say, for example, your About Us page talks about the vision behind your eCommerce website and the products/services you sell – until and unless there is an update of your brand vision, or your products have undergone a complete overhaul, the content on your About Us page will remain unchanged.
Posts: A website post is an entry usually created on your website’s blog or a specific page where you would like to publish articles to keep your readers updated. Posts by default appear in reverse chronological order from the date of publishing i.e., the latest published post is shown first.
Now that you understand the basic difference between Pages and Posts, let us move on to understanding how you can edit your eCommerce website.
Edit WordPress Pages
1. Navigate to your WooCommerce backend dashboard
2. Click on Pages > All Pages on the left-hand sidebar
3. A new window will open, displaying all the WordPress pages you have created
4. If you want to edit the About Us page, hover your mouse pointer on the page name. To make changes to the content, click on ‘Edit’, or if you want to make basic changes without entering the post click on ‘Quick Edit’. If you want to delete the page, click on ‘Trash’
5. If you click on ‘Edit’, the page will open in a new window. Here you can make changes to the page, then click on ‘Publish’ or ‘Save draft’.
Edit WordPress Post
1. Navigate to your WooCommerce backend dashboard
2. Click on Posts > All Posts on the left-hand sidebar
3. A new window will open, displaying all the WordPress posts you have created
4. To edit a post, hover your mouse pointer on the post name. To make changes to the content click on ‘Edit’, or if you want to make basic changes without entering the post click on ‘Quick Edit’. If you want to delete this post, click on ‘Trash’
5. If you click on ‘Edit’, the post will open in a new window. Here, you can make changes to the post, and click on ‘Publish’ or ‘Save draft’
Apart from Posts and Pages, the other elements that you can edit on your eCommerce website include products, header, footer, logo, store layout, and more. You can make these brand edits in your Theme using the customizer. To edit Products, refer to the ‘Products And Services’ tab as shown in the products section above.
To edit your theme, follow these steps:
1. Go to the ‘Appearance’ tab on the left-hand sidebar of your WooCommerce dashboard
2. Here, you will see a drop-down of Themes, Customize, Menus, etc.
3. Click on the ‘Themes’ tab. Here, you can see your current theme and the button ‘Customize’. This will take you to the customizer
Important plugins for online stores
Plugins are a great way to add functionalities to your eCommerce website. Using a plugin saves you the time and resources required to code.
Bluehost WooCommerce Hosting comes pre-installed with some must-have plugins that can help your online store stand out.
To see the plugins that are pre-installed on your eCommerce website, follow these steps:
1. Go to your Bluehost WooCommerce backend dashboard
2. Click on the ‘Plugins’ tab on the left-hand sidebar
3. Click on ‘Installed Plugins’
Depending on your preference, you can choose to disable these plugins, as well as install new ones.
To learn how to install a plugin on your eCommerce website, follow the steps mentioned in this article.
YITH X Bluehost
We understand that each online store has a unique requirement. Therefore, apart from the usual plugins, our new online store plans come coupled with exclusive YITH plugins. YITH enables you to add a wishlist, gift cards, manage payments and shipping, bookings & appointments, and product search & filtering. You can read more about our online store plans and plugins.
To directly access these plugins, follow the below-mentioned steps:
1. On your WooCommerce dashboard, click on the ‘Bluehost’ tab on the left-hand sidebar
2. Go to the ‘Home’ tab
3. Click on the ‘Additional Features’ tab
4. Scroll to the ‘Already Installed Features’ to check the pre-installed plugins
5. If you want to add additional features to your online store, click on ‘Enable’ to activate the feature
Say, for instance, you want to manage the gift cards option in your online store. Click on ‘Sell Gift Cards in your store’.
Next, you’ll be redirected to the YITH plugin page, and the following window opens. Click the second option to ‘create your first gift card’.
You’ll now be redirected to the WooCommerce product page to create your ‘Gift Card’.
Follow the same process as you would while creating your product as mentioned in the ‘how to add products and service’ section above.
This is how your Gift Card would look on your eCommerce website after you ‘Publish’ it.
And with that, your gift card is live for customers to send to whoever they want!
Alternatively, you can directly access the YITH plugins by following these steps:
1. Click on the ‘YITH’ tab on the left-hand sidebar of your WooCommerce dashboard
2. Make edits to your YITH plugin features
If you want to make changes to your ‘Wishlist’, ‘Gift Cards’ and other options, you can click on that specific tab under YITH. For instance, to manage gift cards, click on YITH > Gift Cards on the left-hand sidebar to open the Gift Cards window.
SEO for eCommerce
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is another important aspect for an online store. The higher your search engine rankings, the more traffic your website is bound to receive. For this, it is crucial that you optimize your website for search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, and more).
Good SEO practices impact the user experience and growth of an online store. Keeping this in mind, our new online store plans come pre-installed with the free Yoast SEO plugin. Yoast SEO is a powerful WordPress SEO tool that helps optimize your eCommerce website to rank higher on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). The free version of Yoast SEO enables you to make changes to the appearance of your search result, optimize social, add integrations, and more.
To access the Yoast SEO plugin, follow these steps:
1. Click on the ‘Yoast SEO’ tab on the left-hand sidebar of your WooCommerce dashboard
2. The ‘General’ tab opens by-default
Here’s a tutorial on how to use Yoast SEO to rank higher in SERPs.
Launch your store
Congratulations! You did it.
You have set up and designed your all-new eCommerce website and you’re ready to launch it!
*Drum rolls* *jump in excitement* *pat yourself on the shoulder*
Okay, now you can click on ‘Launch your store’.
We are as excited as you. We know it takes a lot to get to where you are, and we are so proud of you ?
This is just the beginning. There are many more milestones, learnings, successes, wins and growth awaiting you.
The world of online shopping is constantly growing and evolving. New players, just like you, are entering the market every day to bring in something new, something unique and something that stands out – it’s your time to rise to the occasion and shine now.
We started by discussing what an online store is and looked at different online store models. From there, we went on to talk about the fundamentals of creating your eCommerce store, like deciding on a target audience and products, designing a logo and choosing the right name for your brand. We also discussed buying a domain and hosting plan.
And we didn’t stop there! We then learned about WooCommerce Hosting, and Bluehost’s WooCommerce hosting plans and onboarding experience.
But look at you, you still didn’t stop! We went step-by-step to understand and learn about everything that the Bluehost dashboard offers – payments and shipping, adding products to your website, creating website pages, branding, designing, adding plugins like YITH and Yoast – and everything in between.
Good job, champ!
This is where we leave you to continue writing your own success story. But we’ll be back with another guide that will help you do more and sell more. Plus, we are always available! Drop a comment if you have any questions, tell us what you’d like to know more about, or just share your thoughts with us.
Thank you, and congratulations once again on launching your online store.
GET. SET. LAUNCH