Last updated - February 25, 2020
Creating an eCommerce store is not a difficult task anymore. Anyone with basic technical knowledge will be able to create an online store and sell products to customers from across the globe. This is thanks to several available eCommerce platforms that offer user friendly features. WooCommerce is one of the most popular platforms that will help you create an eCommerce store in a cost effective manner. A large number of eCommerce stores, big and small, is built on this platform. In this article, we will discuss the steps you need to take to create a WordPress & WooCommerce eCommerce website.
Creating a WordPress & WooCommerce eCommerce website
Since WordPress is a self-hosted content management system, you will have to make arrangements on your own for hosting and domain name. Generally the following are the basic steps you need to create an eCommerce store using WordPress and WooCommerce.
- Choose a hosting service provider
- Register your domain name
- Install WordPress
- Set up a suitable theme
- Install WooCommerce
- Find required extensions.
We will explain each of these steps in more detail in this article. Before that, let’s look at the advantages of choosing WordPress and WooCommerce as the platform to create your eCommerce store.
Benefits of creating an eCommerce store on WordPress and WooCommerce
26% of all online stores in the world use WooCommerce, and that is quite a large number. There are several reasons why it is consistently on top among varied eCommerce solutions. Let’s analyze some of the aspects of WooCommerce and try to understand the reasons behind its popularity.
It’s a cost effective solution
Cost effectiveness is among the top reasons why a lot of store owners prefer to opt for WooCommerce. As you know WordPress and WooCommerce are free solutions on its own, and you don’t have to pay for selling products through them. However, setting up an online store will cost some money in other aspects such as hosting, domain name registration, etc. The main advantage of WordPress and WooCommerce is that a budding business can get going with minimal investment at the start. Moreover, the platform offers ample opportunities to scale your business as and when you require it.
WordPress has, over the years, evolved to be one of the most efficient content management systems in the world. It is preferred over many other options thanks to the solid foundation that it provides to your business. It is simple, lightweight, easy to use and secure. Since WooCommerce being a free plugin of WordPress, users are able to get the same comfort and convenience with it too.
Good site performance
As you probably know, a fast website is an essential component of customer experience as well as search engine rankings. WooCommerce is built to ensure great performance of your site as the default install has only essential features for an online store. Moreover, it is responsive and ensures a great experience for your customers on all devices. And, if you are using plugins and themes built by reputed developers, you will have nothing to worry about in the performance aspect.
Flexibility for customization
One of the most crucial aspects of an eCommerce platform is its flexibility towards customization. WooCommerce offers a lot of options to customize features with large number of extensions available to add features and functionality. While the core platform is lean and mean with essential features, you will be able to transform it effortlessly to any way you want. Moreover, as plugins are quite easy to configure, even users with basic technical knowledge will be able to customize their stores effectively.
Built for selling
Unlike some other platforms, WooCommerce can be used to sell any kind of products. Starting from physical products, you can use this platform to sell even digital downloads and virtual products like services. By default, WooCommerce offer four product types such as simple, variable, downloadable and virtual. In addition, you can make use of several extensions to create unique product types such as subscriptions, memberships, bundles, auctions, etc. Also, there are no restrictions in the number of products you can add to your store.
Integration with a lot of services
To manage the daily functioning of your store, you will need to use different tools. WooCommerce offers smooth integrations with a lot of these tools to make your life easier. For example, you may have to integrate your store with payment gateways, shipping carriers, inventory management tools, email marketing platforms, etc. It will be quite easy to integrate most of popular available tools as you will be able to find a plugin to help you with. Moreover, it offers you the flexibility to choose only the integrations that you need for your business.
Smooth options to scale your business
WooCommerce is an extremely adaptable tool. You can create a store of any size using WooCommerce. In a lot of scenarios, small businesses prefer to keep their store with minimal features at the start and gradually add more features. WooCommerce perfectly suits such models where you can use a lot of free tools to get yourself going. At the same time, it offers a great platform even for big stores with diverse product types and thousands of products. This adaptability that helps all kinds of businesses to sell their products and grow is what makes WooCommerce stand apart from the competition.
Extensive reporting features
Analytics insights will help you a lot in improving your business and the customer experience on your site. Constantly monitoring the performance of your store and products will do a world of good for your business development initiatives. WooCommerce offers great support in this department and provides you with extensive reporting options. In addition, you can integrate tools like Google Analytics to monitor customer behavior as well as eCommerce specific metrics.
As you probably know, WordPress ecosystem thrives with a knowledgeable technical community. Being open source solutions, WordPress and WooCommerce is regularly improvised by new tools and technology. You will be part of this vast community that will provide great help through discussion forums. In addition, you can find a lot of third party service providers for quick fixes and feature additions to your store. When you purchase extensions from WooCommerce or any of the popular plugin developers, you will get dedicated support service for that as well.
How to create your first WordPress and WooCommerce website?
Now, let’s get into the actual process of creating an online store. As mentioned earlier, you need to find a hosting service and register your domain before getting started. We will discuss the steps in detail now.
Choosing a domain name
You have to give some though before choosing a domain name for your store. Try to understand the terms and conditions of different domain registrars before going ahead with a new domain. There are several popular domain registrars who will help you register your preferred domain name for your store.
Signing up for a hosting service
A hosting service is where your website will be stored, and when a user tries to access it, the web content is provided by the hosting company’s servers. There are several different hosting services available so that you will be a little confused about what to choose. Since the choice of hosting provider determines your site performance, it is important to choose one that is suitable for your store.
In this article, we will show you how to get yourself a service provider to host your WordPress site. To demonstrate the process, we will be using HostGator as an example. First, let’s get to know the WordPress hosting service of HostGator a little more.
HostGator offers an exceptional managed WordPress hosting service that will help you ensure great performance consistently for your WordPress site. The superior infrastructure includes low-density servers, cloud architecture, content delivery network and multiple caching layers. It will ensure that dynamic content requests to your site will be handled quickly and as a result, your customers will have a great experience.
Moreover, you will find it easy to directly manage your website and its different aspects through the HostGator portal. This way you can easily control your email account and other aspects of hosting such as security detail. Also, features like automatic backups and one-click restoration process will provided much-needed peace of mind in handling your WordPress site.
Here is a quick look at some of the additional features of the managed WordPress hosting service of HostGator.
- Get a fast website without having to worry about complicated configuration processes.
- WordPress cloud hosting infrastructure that makes it easy to handle restores and email accounts.
- Easy to scale as it offers hassle-free allocation of additional resources.
- Great support that offers access to hosting experts over the phone who will resolve any issues that you may have.
Signing up for a hosting account
Here is how you can sign up for a hosting account with HostGator.
First, choose the suitable plan that you want to go ahead with.
Now, you will have to specify the domain name. You can either use your existing domain, or choose to get a new domain name through HostGator.
In the next step, you can confirm your hosting plan.
Then enter the account details.
Finally, your account will be processed.
Getting an SSL certificate
There is another important aspect that you need to consider before going ahead with the creation of your online store. That is getting an SSL certificate. SSL or Secure Sockets Layer is a security technology that will encrypt the communication between your server and browsers. This will ensure the safety of transactions on your store, and also will create a sense of security among your customers.
WooCommerce will allow you to create an online store without an SSL certificate. However, it is a recommended step as several payment gateways require it when you try for an integration. Moreover, the perception of trust that it creates will help boost the credibility of your store.
Now, you are ready with a domain name and a hosting service for your WordPress WooCommerce eCommerce site, and can proceed to the next step.
The next step in creating an eCommerce store will be installing WordPress. For most popular hosting services, there will be a single-click WordPress installation, which will be different for managed WordPress hosting.
You can also install WordPress manually using an FTP client software like FileZilla, or by using the control panel of your hosting service.
If you want to know more about the manual installation process of WordPress, please read our article titled How to Install WordPress.
How to manage WordPress installation with HostGator managed WordPress hosting?
If you have a shared, VPN or dedicated hosting service with HostGator, you can use the Quick Install option to install WordPress. However, with optimized WordPress or managed WordPress environment, you won’t be able to use this option. If you have chosen the managed WordPress option of Hostgator, here is how you can install WordPress.
Basically, when you choose an optimized WordPress package of WordPress, it will be pre-loaded with the latest version of PHP. Moreover, HostGator will handle regular WordPress updates as well as plugins and themes updates from WordPress.org. This means you won’t have access to the control panel of the hosting service instead the hosting service will be handling it. You will find backup options, CDN as well as malware scanning and removal with these packages.
You can manage optimized WordPress installs and emails from the HostGator portal itself. In the portal, you can open WordPress Manager and click ‘Create Blog’.
In the next screen, you can enter the name of your blog and blog title, and click the Add Blog button.
The WordPress install will get started, and within a few minutes it will be ready.
Once WordPress is installed, you can directly go to your WordPress dashboard by clicking Manage WordPress. There will be options to manage other aspects of your site such as email account, backups, security, etc., as well.
Choose a theme
One of the next steps that you need to take to create an online store is getting a theme for your WordPress site. WordPress offers great options to help even beginners to get their design ideas right with the help of numerous themes. Since we are trying to create an online store with WooCommerce, it is sensible to go for a WooCommerce compatible theme for WordPress.
When you choose a theme, make sure it has simple aesthetics that complement your products well. Also see there are ample options to customize and is easy to get started with. You need to ensure that the theme has a responsive and SEO-friendly design, which are essential aspects for an eCommerce theme. When you choose a theme, check if it is regularly updated and also if it has prompt support options.
Based on your requirements, you can choose a free or premium theme. If you are looking for a cost effective option with basic features, a free theme from the WordPress directory might be enough. However, if you want more advanced features and customization option, you may have to opt for a premium theme.
Refer to our article to understand how to pick a suitable theme for your WooCommerce store.
Once your WordPress site is ready, you can install WooCommerce so that you can get started with the specific aspects of your store. WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress, which will impart eCommerce functionality to your website.
You can install WooCommerce directly from Plugins section of your WordPress site. On the WordPress admin panel, go to Plugins and click the Add New button. Search for WooCommerce. From the results, go to WooCommerce and click the Install Now button, followed by the Activate button. WooCommerce will be installed and activated on your site now.
You can also download the plugin zip file from the WooCommerce plugin repository and upload it as well. Certain hosting service providers will provide WooCommerce pre-installed as well.
Once you install WooCommerce, you have to create some essential pages before adding products. The setup wizard will help you with the basic settings of WooCommerce.
Choose the plugins that you need
The last step of setting up an online store using WordPress and WooCommerce would be to choose the plugins that are useful for you. WordPress ecosystem offers numerous free and premium plugins with varied features. WooCommerce itself has an extensions store that offers a large variety of free and premium plugins. In addition, you can download free plugins from WordPress repository as well as from reputed third party developers.
Here is a look at some of the important aspects of a WooCommerce store, which you can extend with the help of plugins.
By default, WooCommerce offers just the essential payment options with PayPal and a few other offline modes. With the help of plugins, you can integrate popular payment gateways like Stripe, Authorize.net, Amazon Pay and several more.
Shipping is something you can’t ignore if you are selling physical products through your store. WooCommerce helps you create different shipping zones according to the location of your customers. For each shipping zone, you can create different shipping methods such as flat rate, free shipping and local pickup. However, if you want to set advanced shipping rules or want to integrate popular shipping carriers, you will have to opt for plugins.
As mentioned before, WooCommerce offers decent reporting features. However, for more detailed analytics insights, you can integrate tools like Google Analytics using plugins. These plugins will help you track specific eCommerce metrics that will give you deep insights to improve your online business.
Unique product types
WooCommerce offers 4 default product types – simple, variable, downloadable and virtual. In addition, you can create different unique product types with the help of plugins. These include Subscriptions, Memberships, Bookings, Product Bundles, Auctions and more.
Offering prompt support to customers is another major responsibility of a WooCommerce store owner. By default you won’t find any good options to set up a customer support system on WooCommerce. So, you can take the help of plugins for that as well.
Hopefully, this article has given an overview on how you can create a WordPress and WooCommerce eCommerce website. Please leave us a comment if you have any queries.