According to experts, up to 95% of all purchases on the planet will be via eCommerce websites. If you want your business to thrive, you’ll have to create one.
The open-source and free solution allows you to build anything from a simple one-page website all the way to multi-page websites.
If you want to know how to create a WordPress eCommerce Website, you’re in for a treat. In the following article, we’ll walk you through a step by step guide to building your online shop in 11 easy steps. So without further ado, let’s dive in!
Step 1: Pick the Ideal Domain Name for Your Website
Whether you’re starting an online store website or any other type, the first step for creating one is always the domain name.
The domain name is basically the unique address of your website that you enter in the address bar of the browser after “www.” in the URL. For example, the domain name of this website is “www.windhill.com”.
One thing you should know about domain names is that they’re not free but they’re usually inexpensive too. Ideally, you can check out some domain name providers like:
It’s generally wise to keep the domain name short, easy to remember, and as close to your brand’s name as possible. To put it in the simplest way, and avoid customer’s confusion, you should try and make it (www.YourBrandName.com). However, you need to know that the domain name should be unique, so you’ll have to think of other names if this one is taken. Some people tend to build their websites on someone else’s domains which looks like this (YourBrandName.SomeoneElse’sDomain.com), mostly because this form costs less. However, as you can probably notice, it’s much more professional and reliable to keep the website’s domain exclusive to your brand name. A domain name would cost you around $10 to $20 a year anyway, so it’s always a worthy investment.
In some cases, you might be unlucky and find the domain name you want already taken, unavailable, or only available through a resale, which means you’ll have to pay much more for it (up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars). However, in some cases, it might be worth the investment. Additionally, no matter how pricey it was, the renewal fees will be around $10 to $20 standard rates again. After checking the availability of the name, buy it, and set a reminder for the next year to renew your domain name!
Step 2: Sign Up to a Good Hosting Provider
A domain name is just like a physical address but on the internet. In real life, besides having an address, you’ll need to rent a piece of land to create your business spot. While a domain name will grant you an address on the internet, a hosting service will give you that “piece of virtual land” to make your website accessible online. Any domain name provider will technically do the trick with no much difference to offer. However, when it comes to the hosting service you’re going for, it’s critical to go for the best hosting service. For instance, a hosting service controls the website’s uptime. No matter how great your online store is, it’ll be rendered obsolete as long as the host is down. Not only that, but a hosting service will also control your website security, loading speed, storage available, and much more! You always have the choice between shared or dedicated hosting. However, if you’re serious about your business it’s always recommended to skip the shared hosting choice. Since you’re on the same server as other websites, shared hosting is technically cheaper. However, it puts you on a huge vulnerability in terms of security. For instance, if one of the sharing websites gets hacked, you’ll most likely get attacks too. For an eCommerce website that deals with other people’s credit card information, it’s a huge risk that isn’t worth taking. You’d pay more for a dedicated hosting plan, but you’ll also get better security and control over your website. This includes several other aspects, such as better bandwidth, storage,
There’s also an option for cloud hosting, which gives you an option to customize your hosting plan to your liking. It’s a good option for eCommerce website owners because you can control aspects like storage and bandwidth. This is ideal if you get more traffic in certain seasons or need more storage for your virtual products you sell. However, if you’re just testing the waters and starting out with few products, you can opt for a basic plan and work your way up to a dedicated hosting plan as your business grows. Windhill Design provides managed WordPress hosting services with both shared and dedicated hosting options.
Step 3: Install WordPress
Now that you have both the domain name and the hosting plan in hand, it’s time to move along and start our WordPress adventure.
Ideally, there are two ways to install WordPress on your computer, the easy “one-click” way, and the more challenging manual way where you download it and upload it manually to your hosting account. Here’s what you should know about each method.
‘One-Click’ WordPress Installation
The first and easier way to install WordPress to your hosting provider is through the provider itself. As you now know, some web hosting services are more WordPress-friendly than the other.
These ones offer a one-click installation that will instantly get this step done for you. In these web hosts, you would generally find the option for installing WordPress right on the dashboard.
Ideally, WordPress will require a hosting service that supports:
It’s important to check your hosting service of choice and make sure that it supports these requirements.
Manual WordPress Installation
While it’s not recommended, you can always go with the manual method for WordPress installation. In that case, you’ll need to download WordPress to your local computer, then upload it to the host dashboard by yourself. Keep in mind that you’ll need to have access to your web server, an FTP client, and a database setup through phpMyAdmin or the host’s cPanel before you get on with that set. As you can see, it’s easy, just not as easy as the one-click method. But, it’s still a fairly manageable method with tons of guides by WordPress and documentation that help you with the process.
An Important Tip for Setting Up WordPress Manually
If you decide to set WordPress manually, make sure that you configure its settings so that it’ll load as “https” rather than “http”. This is known as the “Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate”. This one is a standard security technology that is super necessary for eCommerce websites. It works by establishing an encrypted link between the client and your webserver to add an extra layer of security to the purchase. In fact, it’s so critical for ranking on Google search results because websites that use an SSL certificate get an extra SEO boost, which gets more clients to your website. The SSL certificate is available through your web host service either for free or for a small fee (SSL is included with all Windhill hosting). After activating this perk, go to Settings > General, and manually change both your website address and WordPress address to https instead of http.
Step 4: Choose the Right eCommerce Plugin for You
Up till this point, your website is basically a regular one with nothing to make it a distinctive eCommerce website. While WordPress grants you a lot of features, it doesn’t have a built-in option for some features, such as eCommerce websites. However, they fill in these gaps by allowing 3rd party plug-ins to get the job done. To make an appealing online shop website with ease, you’ll need to install an eCommerce plugin. There’s a wide variety of eCommerce Plugins on WordPress. However, WooCommerce is easily the overall best option that a lot of business owners use.
In fact, according to Kinsta Statistics, 7% of all eCommerce websites out there are powered by WooCommerce. Also, 30% of all WordPress websites use WooCommerce as their online shop choice. The plugin is available in a wide variety of languages and customizable features without being too complex. It even has smart AI features that automatically suggest ideal products and recommendations for clients right on the landing page. The basic plan of WooCommerce is free to use. However, you can extend its functionality and features by opting for one of its extensions, such as booking appointments.
In other words, with WooCommerce, you can turn your website into a fully-fledged web store with little to no additional costs, which allows you to:
- Create product pages
- Add payment methods and keep them secure
- Add shipping options and create a label
- Integrate with other plugins for extra functionality and reachability
- Add option for cats and checkouts
- Calculate VAT and other taxes
Recently WordPress produced a plugin for eCommerce known as “WP eCommerce”. However, the features on even the WooCommerce’s free plan is far more superior to the ones in the WP Plugin. There are some other competitors on the market to WooCommerce, such as Shopify, Magneto, OpenCart, and BigCommerce. However, for the sake of this guide, we’ll be focusing on WooCommerce’s plugin.
Step 5: Install and Configure the WooCommerce Plugin
After you install and set WordPress up, it’s time to do the same for WooCommerce. Login or return back to the WordPress dashboard. On your left, you’ll find a sidebar menu with various options. Click the “Plugin” section then “Add New”. After that, search for “WooCommerce” Plugin in the search bar on the top right. When it shows up, click the gray “Install Now” button to get it installed. Wait for the WooCommerce Plugin to be installed. You’ll know it’s done when the gray button becomes blue with the word “Activate” on it. After you click “Activate”, the Setup Wizard will show up to continue the process.
Step 6: Set Up Payment Options
The next step in the setup wizard is the payment tab. There you’ll choose the methods where you’re going to accept payments from customers. Most eCommerce websites use payment gateways to make this easier for them and customers. WooCommerce usually enables both PayPal and Stripe by default because they’re the most popular methods. If you didn’t set up your payment accounts, you can skip that step and come back later to enable the ones you’ve successfully settled. To add any additional payment gateway methods, simply go to WooCommerce Extension Store, search for the ones you want, and add them.
Step 7: Choose Shipping Settings
The next step is to add your shipping rates. WooCommerce will recognize your area and automatically sets it as the main shipping zone. In that page, you can also adjust the shipping rates to be free, fixed-rate, or a variable one. Not only that, but you can also integrate your shipping with specific carrier services.
Step 8: Score the Right Theme for Your Online Shop
The next tab on the setup wizard is choosing a theme for your shop. Of course, you want your shop to be unique and represent your style. That’s why you can always skip that step on the setup wizard and come back to it after you’re done. In fact, if you can’t find the theme that suits your online store in these methods, you can head to dedicated online theme libraries, such as Theme Forest and Elegant Themes for hundreds of thousands of theme options.
Once you find and download the one you like do the following to apply it to your website:
- Log in to the WordPress Dashboard
- Select “Appearance > Themes”
- Click “Add New”
- Choose the “Upload Theme” option
- Choose the .zip file you’ve downloaded on your local computer via the prompted browse window
- Click the link that activates the theme to replace the old one.
Step 9: Set Up Pages for Products
To add products to your online store, you need to set up pages for products. In WooCommerce, you can do this simply by returning to the WordPress dashboard and choosing “Products” from the sidebar on the left then “Add Product”. To create a product page, there is certain information that you need to provide for each product, including:
- Product name
- Main product image
- Additional Images (though optional, it’s highly recommended to add various images for better product presentation)
- Descriptions for the products
You should also specify the product category if you’re going to have different types of products that you sell. While the previous data is constant for all types of products, every type of product will need some additional details for listing.
Adjusting Product Data for Physical and Virtual Items
Under the product data menu, you’ll find various tabs that control different aspects of the product you’re selling. Let’s have a quick look at each one of them and see what they have to offer.
General is the default tab you start at when you’re adjusting the “Product Data”. It has multiple settings and properties to adjust.
The first one is the “Product Type” drop-down menu. There you’ll find the following items:
Physical products, which can be:
- Simple: Covers the majority of physical items and products that are sold in singles (ex. a single kitchen knife)
- Grouped: Covers a number of products that are sold within one package (ex. a set of 3 knives)
- Variable: Products that have the potential for variations, such as colors, sizes, upgrades
- Affiliate: Products you list but they’re sold elsewhere
Non-physical products, which can belong to:
- Downloadable: Activates an extra field where you’re allowed to upload a file that becomes downloadable after purchases (ie. instructions videos and PDF files)
- Virtual: An option for non-physical services and software sold, which are items that don’t need shipping.
You’ll find more options on the general menu for non-physical products, such as download expiry time and download limit. WooCommerce is designed to not trigger a shipping calculator for these products on checkout or carts. Additionally, make sure that you uncheck all stock and shipping related aspects for virtual products.
The Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is the option that allows you to make specific IDs for each of your products. These unique SKUs will help you refer easier to the products.
WooCommerce gives you the option to sell the products in both regular and sale prices. You can even schedule the sale prices to change automatically at certain times.
Inventory is the place where you’re able to manage, track, and adjust your inventories. This tab has multiple features to control such as:
- Change a product status between in stock and out of stock
- Allowing back orders for out-of-stock products
- Adjusting stock quantity, and more!
The shipping tab is exclusive for the physical products where you adjust aspects such as:
- Shipping class
As the name suggests, this tab contains some features that you can add to your product pages, such as allowing the customer to leave a purchase note, reviews, and menu orders.
Step 10: Add Extra Plugins to Help You Manage Your Website (Optional)
In addition to your eCommerce plugin, you might rely on some extra plugins to better manage and target your audience.
While it’s an optional step, you’ll benefit greatly from it. Here’s a list of the best 3 plugins to add to your list:
- Yoast: an incredible SEO guidance tool that helps you optimize your website to rank better on search engines
- Google Analytics: provides you with tons of reports and services that monitor the traffic on your website
- Sucuri: a great security plugin that will protect you from hacking software, which is extra sensitive for an eCommerce website.
Step 11: Make Your Website Public
Once you’re satisfied with choices and have your products ready, it’s time to publish your website and start your journey.
With that said, your website is now ready for clients to go shopping and enjoy your products. So there you have it! A complete guide on how to create a WordPress eCommerce website with WooCommerce.
As you can see, the steps are simple and easy to follow. However, if you like things to be done professionally or you don’t want to do all the work yourself, you should contact us for help.
At Windhill Design, we provide exceptional digital marketing services for businesses to help them grow their brands!
Whether you already have a website and need more leads to your business or you want a fully functional WordPress website development, you can reach out to us for more information and have a free consultation session!