Starting an online business has never been easier. New entrepreneurs can open an e-commerce storefront in minutes on platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce, but they’d be renting space on a third-party platform that has considerable control over how the shop looks and functions. But if you’re a WordPress user, there’s a more elegant solution.
WooCommerce, an open source e-commerce plugin from WordPress, allows site owners to integrate a fully functioning online store right on an existing WordPress site in just a few quick steps—and it’s free.
What Is WooCommerce?
Dedicated e-commerce sites host hundreds of online stores of all kinds, usually for a monthly fee that includes a shop “space,” templates for creating the storefront, and various administrative tools for running and managing the site. These large e-commerce platforms can offer users easy tools for setting up and running an online shop, as well as exposure to a wide audience of shoppers. But if the platform shuts down or if a user’s account is suspended or deleted, the shop goes too, which can impact sales and connections while a user works to find a new online home for the business.
But WooCommerce works differently. It’s a plugin, a small bit of code that’s added on to an existing WordPress website “frame” provided by the WordPress core code. Once installed and activated, this plugin adds all the elements for setting up an e-commerce platform to an existing WordPress site, from managing a contact form to creating an entire e-commerce venture with all the tools offered by third-party shopping platforms.
Because WooCommerce is installed on self-hosted WordPress sites, site owners have complete control over every aspect of their online storefront, with no fees or transaction costs paid to a third-party host. From its external appearance to specialized functions such as calculating shipping rates to specific countries and tracking analytics, WordPress with WooCommerce provides shop owners with a stable, secure solution for managing an online store. And with its array of extensions and customizing options, WooCommerce can grow as the business grows so that new functions can be added whenever they’re needed. Plus, WooCommerce comes with ongoing user support from its team of developers, with premium upgrades available for even more specialized features. In its basic form, though, WooCommerce includes:
- Templates for different product types, services, and digital downloads
- Options for a variety of secure payment types, such as PayPal, Stripe, or bank transfers
- Mobile responsiveness
- Inventory tracking
- Currency and shipping calculators for all countries
- Analytics for all product types
- Unlimited image uploads and product pages
- Full shopping cart and checkout setup
WooCommerce was developed by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, and it’s included in the official WordPress directory of plugins that can be accessed directly from a WordPress site. Installing the WordPress WooCommerce plugin on your new or existing WordPress site requires only a few steps. Here’s how.
Prepare Your Site for WooCommerce
To get the most out of WooCommerce, it’s helpful to prepare your WordPress website to accommodate its features. WooCommerce can be installed on any WordPress site that’s compatible with its current version and can be integrated with most free and premium WordPress themes.
But to make your online store look and perform its best, make sure that you’ve upgraded to the latest version of WordPress that’s required for running WooCommerce. Then, consider installing a WooCommerce WordPress theme or switching to one. These mostly premium themes include templates for supporting essential WooCommerce elements like product and checkout pages and are designed to be responsive for best viewing on mobile devices. Even if WooCommerce takes up only part of your website, it’s a good idea to make sure that all pages in the theme are compatible with its features.
Install and Activate WooCommerce
From your site’s dashboard, select Plugins > Install New to access the official WordPress plugin directory. Then search for WooCommerce and click Install to instantly install it on the site. Once the plugin has been installed, click Activate to access its features and start customizing your store.
Set Up and Configure Your Store
WooCommerce comes with a setup wizard that allows you to configure key aspects of your storefront quickly and easily, even if you don’t know a bit of code. It also allows users who do have web development experience to configure the store manually, which allows for more customization. Whichever method you choose, you’ll be able to set preferences for key WooCommerce features such as product types, currencies accepted, and shipping methods and customize the appearance of your online store.
Add Products to Your Store
With WooCommerce, you can sell just about anything, including services, music and video files, and digital goods that can be downloaded upon purchase. To add products, click on Add Product from your site dashboard and begin adding product images, descriptions, and prices. WooCommerce allows users to set a variety of parameters as needed, including quantity, color, and style variations. Users can also add tags and categories for easy searching.
Add Extensions for More Functions
WooCommerce comes with all the basic tools for setting up an online storefront, but some businesses may have more complex and specific needs. For those situations, WooCommerce can be customized even more with a variety of extensions and additional plugins from the WooCommerce plugin site or from third-party developers. These free and premium WooCommerce extensions can be added as needed to expand the functions of a WooCommerce powered storefront in a variety of ways—from adding specific language support to streamlining billing and taxes.
Just as WordPress is the world’s most popular site builder and content management system, WooCommerce is the most popular e-commerce store solution for WordPress available today, powering around 40 percent of all online shops. Free and easy to install for users of all skill levels, WooCommerce integrates seamlessly with WordPress to create a fully functioning e-commerce store that’s completely under your control.
If you have any more questions about integrating WordPress with WooCommerce, please visit Bluehost.com today!