There are plenty of options out there when you’re looking for a tool to build your blog, portfolio, or even an eCommerce site. More commonly, these tools are called content management systems, or just CMS. WordPress is the most famous and widely used CMS. Chances are that if you browsed around today, you stumbled upon a site running WordPress. It powers almost a third of the web!
WordPress has a plugin architecture that lets you add new functionality on top of it. You can add nearly anything you can imagine. Their official plugin repository has 56,000 plugins (and counting).
WooCommerce is the most used WordPress eCommerce plugin. It allows you to configure your products, choose tax and shipping settings, provide payment options and create transaction emails.
WooCommerce is the most used WordPress eCommerce plugin. In fact, it’s used by over 28 percent of all eCommerce websites.
It lets you sell anything, whether physical or digital products.
By default, WooCommerce offers all the basic functionalities your eCommerce needs to run, like different kinds of product configurations, tax and shipping settings, payment options and transaction emails. You can add more functionalities through free or paid extensions (and there are thousands of them).
How to install WooCommerce
Let’s go together and take a look at how you can start your eCommerce store in just a few steps.
The first thing you need to do is to make sure your host supports WordPress, so you can install it. If you don’t know how to proceed, ask your host for support.
After installing WordPress on your hosting plan and logging in, go to Plugins > Add New.
In the top-right corner you’ll see a “Search plugins…” box. Click it and enter WooCommerce. Search will automatically start, and you’ll see a list of plugins.
Identify the WooCommerce box and click Install Now. After a few seconds, installation will finish and Activate button will appear. Click Activate.
Setting up WooCommerce for the first time
Now you have WooCommerce installed and activated on your site (in WordPress, plugins have two states: installed and active. A plugin will not be in use until it is in active state).
Right after activation, WooCommerce will prompt a wizard so you can start basic configuration of your eCommerce. You’ll see the following steps:
- In the first step you’ll set up your store’s address, currency and the product types you’ll be selling.
- The Payment step lets you choose the types of payment your store will accept. Both online and offline methods are available. Stripe and PayPal are built-in options and don’t require additional plugins, but you can also add other payment methods later via plugins.
- The Shipping step won’t be available if you choose to sell only digital products. In this step you can set up basic shipping options, as well as default weight and dimension units. As always, you can add more shipping options with plugins.
- Recommended will display some recommended themes/products. Don’t worry if you don’t want to install them now. You can do it any other time. Click Skip this step at the bottom if you don’t want to install them.
- The last configuration step is the Activate tab. You’ll see a call to connect your store to Jetpack service, along with an explanation of it. You can choose to install it or not. If you choose not to, click Skip this step at the bottom.
- You’ve now reached the Ready! step. Your store is configured, and you can proceed to Create a product or Review Settings to play with more advanced options.
Quick and simple, and you’re ready!
Now click Create a product to create your first product. You can always add a new product via WordPress interface by going to Products > Add New.
Adding your first product
The first fields you’ll see when adding a product are the product name and description fields. The content of both fields will be displayed to your customers, so be sure to give the product a nice description.
The Product data box is where you’ll enter the characteristics of the product.
Every product must be of a specific type. By default, WooCommerce offers these types:
- Simple product — This is the most common type. It covers great single products you may sell. For example, a book.
- Grouped product — By selecting this type you won’t create a new product, but rather you’ll need to select previously created simple products. Usually they are related, so you can sell them in a bundle-like presentation. For example, a smartphone, cover and earphones.
- External/Affiliate product — Lists and describes a product in your store, but the sale is made elsewhere.
- Variable product — A product with variations. Each variation can have it’s own SKU, price, stock option, photos, etc. For example, a shirt with different color and/or size options.
You also have the option to select the options Virtual (for example, a service) or Downloadable (for example, a digital product, like an eBook).
The Product data box will change according to the type, displaying options that are inherent for that kind of product.
For detailed information on each section under Product data, take a look at the official WooCommerce documentation.
On the right side of your product page you’ll see meta boxes for product metadata.
The Publish box lets you select the current state of the product. The options cover:
Status — Inform if the product is a:
- Draft: Not ready for the public.
- Pending review: Like draft, but with a different label to review it later.
- Published: Your customers will see it.
Visibility — Set the product as:
- Public: Everyone sees it.
- Password protected: Customers will need to enter a password before seeing the product.
- Private: Only available to the user who created the product.
Publish — You can publish the product immediately or schedule a specific date and time when it’ll be available.
In Product categories and Product tags boxes you can select a category/tag or create a new one on the go.
Product image is the main image for the product. This is the one that will be displayed in product catalog, for example.
In Product gallery you can select other images for the product. WooCommerce will create a gallery view when seeing details of the product.
You know that text that is generally displayed on the side of the featured image? That’s the short description. It’s generally an excerpt, and not the full description of the product. The full description (the one you set up after product name) is displayed for the customer in the Product Description tab. It’s aimed to be a complete description of the product.
Want more details on product creation? Check the official WooCommerce documentation.
Customizing the look of your store
After saving the product, this is what your customers will see:
It’s all there. But not looking very nice. You can customize the looks of your store by installing themes. There are thousands of them in the official WordPress theme repository.
We recommend the Storefront theme. It’s built by the same team that builds WooCommerce. It’s lightweight and fast, and offers a lot of customization options.
To install a theme go to Appearance > Themes, then click Add. Now search for Storefront in the search box. It should be the first option in the list. Hover over it, click Install, then Activate.
The Storefront theme will be installed with default settings. To customize it, go to Appearance > Customize. You’ll be prompted with a message to take a tour on the customizer tool. It’s a helpful one, and you should take it if you want to learn more about how it works.
Good luck with your new WooCommerce store!
Both WordPress and WooCommerce are open-source software. That means that you will be in control of your data and will be able to customize it at your will.
Do you need help building your store? Need a more in-depth level of customization? Fear not. You can always count on WooExperts. These are verified companies that are always there to help you achieve your goals.
Were these initial steps helpful to you? Let us know on Twitter how your new store is going and how much you like WooCommerce.
Image by: JMS2 on Visual Hunt