WooCommerce powers millions of eCommerce sites worldwide, and it’s the only WordPress plugin to make the list of top eCommerce platforms. WooCommerce is available directly from WordPress or as an ecommerce option offered by most web hosting providers. It allows both developers and new users with no experience in web design to create visually appealing and fully functional online storefronts right inside an existing WordPress-powered site. WooCommerce is easy to install and populate with any kind of digital or physical products.
What is WooCommerce?
Anyone who wants to create an online storefront needs a platform capable of handling all the stages of a retail transaction. Dedicated eCommerce hosts, like Shopify, offer users a storefront with full functionality on their sites, but they require monthly fees and users don’t always have full control over the look and functionality of their site. WooCommerce and other WordPress plugins offer another option. Flexible, customizable, and free they eliminate the fees and third-party control over major aspects of an online store.
WooCommerce is the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin for precisely those reasons. Like many other WordPress plugins, it’s completely free to use and can be installed on any compatible WordPress site. Because WooCommerce is a plugin, it integrates seamlessly with a site’s existing WordPress theme and runs alongside all the site’s other parts. Once installed, WooCommerce is added to the site’s WordPress dashboard, with tools for statistics and reporting, and for managing eCommerce tasks like adding products and handling sales.
A Complete eCommerce Solution for WordPress Sites
More than just a simple tool for taking payments, WooCommerce is a fully functioning eCommerce platform that adds all the components of an online store to any business site. Like WordPress itself, it is an open source project, so that it can be constantly updated and customized for any user needs, thanks to the easy availability of its source code and a large and growing community of both beginning and advanced users willing to share their knowledge and offer help.
WooCommerce can be set up and customized through its easy to use interface, so no knowledge of website development is required. But, advanced users can also work with its source code for more control over its functions and appearance. For all users, though, WooCommerce offers all the tools needed to create a fully functioning online store.
The basic WooCommerce plugin includes all essential eCommerce platform elements. Users can customize the look of the storefront and keep it compatible with their brand and the rest of the website. Product pages can be added as needed and include options for adding images and product information, or for including coupons and discounts. WooCommerce also supports the full range of shopping cart and checkout options with a variety of payment options that can be tailored to either worldwide sales or sales from specific countries.
More functions can be added to the WooCommerce plugin through its numerous extensions – secondary plugins that perform a variety of specific tasks like calculating shipping rates, adding analytics, or managing digital downloads. WooCommerce is flexible and scalable, too, so that it can support the changing needs of a growing online business.
Setting Up WooCommerce on a WordPress Site
To install WooCommerce, you’ll need an existing WordPress site. Most hosting providers include it as one of the many options for setting up a new site, or you can add it directly to your existing site from the WordPress directory of plugins. WooCommerce includes a quick-start setup wizard that easily configures the site’s appearance, adds product pages, and sets up payment and shipping information. More advanced users can take care of these tasks and customize WooCommerce further through the plugin’s code editor.
Once installed, the tools for managing WooCommerce are available from the site’s WordPress dashboard. From the dashboard or within WooCommerce itself, users can access a variety of analytics and reports that show data, such as a site’s performance and traffic, and manage the store’s appearance and product listings.
Adding Products in WooCommerce
WooCommerce comes with a variety of options for selling both physical and digital goods. From the dashboard, click ‘Products’ > ‘Add Product.’ This opens a new version of the basic WordPress editor, which also includes WooCommerce tools for adding images and product information such as size, color, and price. Product information can always be edited, and products can be deleted at any time.
Managing Payments With WooCommerce
WooCommerce has solutions for a wide range of payment and shipping functions. WooCommerce extensions allow users to customize these options for world currencies, collecting taxes, and calculating shipping rates, and users can choose from more than 120 free and paid payment gateway applications such as PayPal, Stripe, or Square to install on the checkout page.
Fulfilling Orders Through WooCommerce
WooCommerce includes tools for collecting payments and calculating shipping costs to destinations around the world or to specific locations only. Extensions can add functions such as tracking orders and creating PDF invoices, packing slips, and shipping labels. Sellers of digital products can set up instant downloads upon payment, and WooCommerce also allows users to include affiliate products sold on external websites to the store.
Installing WooCommerce Extensions
Hundreds of WooCommerce extensions are available, and they can help to fully customize the plugin and expand its functionality to meet a store’s specific needs. Search the WordPress directory of free WooCommerce extensions, or purchase and install extensions created by third party developers from around the world. When no longer needed, extensions can be deleted or replaced to meet changing needs.
Using WooCommerce isn’t for everyone. Popular eCommerce hosting platforms like Shopify and Magento can offer users a wide range of e-store services with the convenience of third party management – for a price. But for online business owners who want flexibility, scalability, and complete control over their digital storefront, WooCommerce offers all the tools for creating a fully functioning online enterprise – completely for free.