As most web designers and developers know, eCommerce websites are a different animal.
If you’re new to building eCommerce sites for clients, you’re probably beginning to realize just how many options there are for selling online.
Gareth Allison and Jonathan Wold from WooCommerce partnered with us for a GoDaddy Pro webinar series to help you to feel confident about building ecommerce sites:
WooCommerce 101: An introduction
In the first webinar of this series, Jonathan and Gareth share some best practices and introduce the powerful combination of WooCommerce and WordPress.
If you missed it, or you would like to watch it again, you can find the recording here: WooCommerce 101 – GoDaddy Pro Webinar
3 Principles of a successful eCommerce site
In Jonathan’s years as a freelancer and working in the agency space with hundreds of clients, he identified 3 basic principles that make a website successful. While they can be applied to anything on the web, he explained them in the context of ecommerce:
- Context: Let visitors know they’re in the right place. Tell them what the business is.
- Credibility: Establish trust with visitors. Speed, design, copy, images, video, reviews, accessibility and security (SSL) all matter.
- Call to Action: Make it clear what you want visitors to do. Be intentional about next steps.
You have just a few seconds to establish context, to help folks know that they’re in the right place.
Freedom and flexibility of WordPress and WooCommerce
Gareth introduced WordPress, WooCommerce and what it means to be “open source.”
What is WordPress?
- Started as a blogging platform, but it’s a powerful CMS.
- Over 35% of all websites are built with WordPress.
- Open source: General public can use it, modify it, and redistribute it for free.
- It has a supportive community.
What is WooCommerce?
- Combine commerce with content.
- It has a lot of free features, customizations, and premium extensions.
- Open source, like WordPress.
- There’s a passionate global community.
- Mission to “democratize” commerce & empower non-developers.
If you open 3 browser tabs, 1 of 3 of those sites will be built using WordPress.
How to choose the right platform
Before getting into platform criteria, Jonathan identified two types of positioning for web designers and developers when building sites for clients:
- Trusted advisor: Guide clients toward good solutions for their business.
- Implementer: Get the work done after decisions have already been made.
Make a conscious decision about your positioning, and lean toward the trusted advisor role.
You, as a builder … have a varying degree of influence on the platform that gets chosen.
5 Things to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform
- Problem: What is the problem your client is trying to solve or value they want to provide?
- Complexity: How complex is their service? What functionality do they need?
- Experience: Is the client familiar with a specific platform like WordPress or WooCommerce?
- Control: How important is autonomy? Consider the convenience of renting vs flexibility of ownership.
- Cost: What is your client’s budget?
4 Factors for a successful WooCommerce site
Gareth shared some tips for creating a successful website with WooCommerce.
- Reliable hosting: eCommerce is resource intensive. Look for a host that provides value, like GoDaddy’s WordPress Ecommerce hosting.
- Good theme: Allows you to switch later and has full support for core WordPress features. Recommendations: our Go theme, WooCommerce’s Storefront theme, and WP Astra.
- Quality extensions: There are hundreds of extensions; get them from reputable sources. WooCommerce adds more extensions all the time.
- Support: Know your support options to fix issues quickly. WooCommerce has support with subscription. WooCommerce and GoDaddy both have supportive communities.
The traffic that your store can handle is largely dependent on your hosting environment.
Challenges and opportunities of building with WooCommerce
Building with WooCommerce may present some challenges to new users.
The amount of choices can be overwhelming, the level of customization can involve a learning curve, and you may encounter occasional theme and plugin conflicts.
These challenges present opportunities for builders. If you familiarize yourself with the platform and become part of the community, you can overcome challenges and become a trusted advisor.
The benefits outweigh the risks.
Getting started with WooCommerce
Gareth and Jonathan came back for the second webinar in this series to talk about the 5 focus areas of Woo.
If you missed it or would like to watch it again, you can find the recording here: Getting started with WooCommerce – GoDaddy Pro Webinar
This is the core experience. It’s where you and your client will manage the store.
- Managing products: You can see all your products from one dashboard.
- Product setup: Set up virtual products or physical products. Each product has settings for SKU, price, inventory, and more.
- Grouped products: Products can be individual or grouped. Grouped products show up on the product page so you can opt to by them together, similar to an upsell or cross sell.
- Stock management: You can see stock status and quantity from the product list.
- Variable products: You can set variables for products, like colors or sizes for t-shirts and add images for each variable.
You can read more about the WooCommerce dashboard in WooCommerce Admin: A New Central Dashboard for WooCommerce.
Learn more about how to manage products in WooCommerce with these help articles:
- CSV product import
- Different types of products
- Simple products
- Virtual products
- Downloadable products
- Add stock numbers and assign SKU
- Inventory options
It’s surprising how much you can do with Woo out of the box … just get in there and experiment.
This is how you will set up payment processing for the online store.
- WooCommerce Payments: WooCommerce’s payment gateway that comes with a dedicated dashboard where you can see transactions and manage disputes.
- Payment gateways: Most major payment gateways have support for WooCommerce.
If you’re unsure whether your payment gateway is supported, check out WooCommerce’s full list of payment extensions.
The key is to familiarize yourself with the options and what’s available, and that puts you in a really good spot to guide your clients toward solutions.
This is how you deliver both physical and digital goods to your customers. It includes various shipping options; like flat rate, free shipping, and local pick up.
WooCommerce Shipping is a free extension available to people in the US. It connects to USPS so you can print shipping labels from your WooCommerce dashboard.
Woo is … like a toolbox full of fantastic tools that may not be obvious at first … but you never know when you’re going to come into a situation where a client may need exactly that.
Extensions give you a way to add new capabilities to your WooCommerce site.
There are extensions developed by the WooCommerce team, and there are some from third parties.
- Possibilities: Using extensions, you can create your own multi-vendor marketplace where people can sell through your website.
- Most popular: WooCommerce Bookings, Composite Products, Preorders, and Subscriptions are some of the most popular products on the WooCommerce marketplace.
Check out the full list of official WooCommerce extions.
The WooCommerce Marketplace is our favorite place … and we’re adding more plugins and extensions all the time … You can, of course, create your own plugins as well.
A lot of the extensions offered by Woo are designed to grow business through increased sales and conversions.
For example, Automate Woo is an email-based extension that sends out post-purchase follow up emails and other automated emails to help drive conversions.
If you’re not quite sure where to start … the Marketing Hub that was recently launched … is our centralized hub for merchants to manage and measure all their marketing efforts …
Questions & Answers
Attendees had some great questions for Gareth and Jonathan. For convenience, some of them have been paraphrased below:
Does WooCommerce work on a WordPress multisite network?
Yes! There are many out there – here are just two of their favorite examples:
- A Heritage Brand With Big Impact: How Wine Group Brown Brothers Grew Their Online Presence With WooCommerce
- Showcase: OKdo
What are your favorite extensions?
Can Woo do Click and Collect as opposed to local pick up?
It sounds to Gareth like these could be very much the same thing, unless by “click and collect” you’re inferring that payment is made on collection, rather than online.
If that’s the case, there are two methods that come to mind: Using core functionality or the Local Pickup Plus premium extension.
Local Pickup Plus extends core functionality. It’s an excellent solution for retailers with multiple locations, distribution centers, or pickup sites.
What are our favorite/recommended themes?
Advice for someone wanting to “play around” with WooCommerce?
Don’t do this on your live site – install WooCommerce on a test or staging environment first.
WooCommerce provides sample data to import that fleshes out your store, too. It’s a great way to get started without being intimidated by an empty store after installation.
There’s also a helpful guide on the first things to customize and set up when starting out with a new store.
Is it easy to migrate an existing store to WooCommerce?
Migrating a store to and from any eCommerce platform comes with challenges – but they’re certainly not insurmountable, and the benefits are many.
Backups and data migration tools (or manual data import/export) are key here.
We’ve written some blog posts recently that explain the nuances of migrating to Woo From other platforms:
- How to Migrate from Magento to WooCommerce (and Why You Should)
- The Right Way to Move from Etsy to Your Own Website
We’ve found Cart2Cart to be extremely helpful during this process.
This webinar was packed with information, helpful demos, and a LOT of recommendations and resources.
Don’t get overwhelmed, though. The biggest takeaway was to just explore. Look around a little, and you can always come back here later when you’re ready for more.
Building a site with WooCommerce
In our final webinar of this series, Jonathan and Gareth demonstrated adding WooCommerce to an existing site. Their hypothetical client was a restaurant owner who wanted to add eCommerce functionality to sell a meal kit and take dinner reservations.
Jonathan walked through the steps to install and set up WooCommerce:
- Install the WooCommerce plugin from the WordPress dashboard and activate it. It shows up in the recommended plugins on GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress hosting.
- Use the WooCommerce onboarding Wizard to fill out the company & industry information and connect a payment processor. You can do this on behalf of your client.
WooCommerce settings and extensions
Jonathan and Gareth gave walk throughs for all settings and extensions that their fictitious client’s website would need to accomplish their goals:
- Sell a meal kit that is available for local delivery or pick up.
- Take dinner reservations.
Since the client wants to add the option to make dinner reservations, Gareth decided to use WooCommerce bookings.
All you need to do to add the extension is install the plugin and activate it. It’s typically a paid extension, but it comes free with GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress eCommerce hosting.
Shipping and Taxes
Gareth set up two shipping zones:
- Local: This is what Gareth named the pick up option. It uses a wildcard zip code (to cover multiple areas within the same region), the shipping methods are set to “free” and “local pickup.”
- Dexter: The client also wants to be able to ship to Dexter, so Gareth set up an option named Dexter and limited it to one zip code and uses a flat rate shipping cost.Locations not covered will not be eligible for shipping or pickup. You can learn more about shipping settings in the Shipping
For the purposes of the demo, he set up a flat tax rate of 6%, calculated based on “shop base address,” with a standard tax class. If you need additional help with WooCommerce tax settings, you can use Woo’s help document: Setting up Taxes in WooCommerce.
“You can work with extensions … to automate the tax collection and distribution and payment side of things.”
Jonathan chose to connect WooCommerce Payments to accept payment. It’s a convenient payment processing option offered by Woo, which processes payments within the website, so customers aren’t redirected to another site to complete the purchase.
WooCommerce Payments has a setup wizard to enter company or individual information, starting with a mobile number verification. Since this connects to a bank account, you may want to walk your client through the steps instead of doing it for them.
Set up a simple product
The client wants to sell a meal kit, so Gareth set it up as a simple product.
To add a product in WooCommerce, look for Products in the WordPress dashboard menu. Under Products, select Add New, and you’re ready to start entering your information.
Gareth started by selecting Simple product from the drop down at the top of the section, then he filled out some basic product information.
- General: In this tab, you can set the regular price, sale price, tax status, and tax class.
- Inventory: In this tab, you can add the product SKU, enable stock management at the product level, set a stock quantity, and set alerts to let you know when stock is low.
Product short description
In this section, Gareth added a product description he prepared for the meal kit. The description will show on the product page once it’s published. The only steps left were to add a product image and publish.
Set up a reservation
To add the reservation booking, Gareth returned to Products and selected Add New, the same way he did for the meal kit.
Instead of Simple product, Gareth chose Bookable product from the drop down. That product type was available because the WooCommerce Bookings extension was installed. He also checked the Virtual and Has persons options before moving on to the other product settings.
- General: In this tab, you can set the tax status and class, booking duration, how to display the calendar, require confirmation, and allow cancellations.
- Availability: There is no inventory since it’s not a physical product, but you can set a maximum number of bookings to allow, as well as how far in advance bookings can be made or a buffer period and which days are available.
- Persons: Since the Has persons option was checked, this tab was added to set minimum and maximum number of persons for the reservation.
Product short description
Like the meal kit, the reservation needs a short description to show on the live page. It will help customers understand what they’re making a reservation for. Gareth pasted in a prepared description again and published the booking.
“This is why it’s so valuable to go through and experiment with these things because this is powerful. We did this in a few minutes with no code.”
Gareth and Jonathan also briefly reviewed some booking management options that are baked into the WooCommerce Bookings extension that will help your customer keep track of any bookings that have been made, as well as any that were left in the cart without completing purchase.
If you didn’t get a chance to join us live, I recommend watching the recordings. The main talking points are highlighted here, but nothing compares to the benefits of a visual demonstration or Jonathan and Gareth’s playful banter.