How to Start Your Online Shop with WordPress & WooCommerce
A 2016 survey by PwC shows that more than half of all shoppers will make an online purchase every month, and 34% of all shoppers agree that mobile devices will become their primary tool for shopping. In this context of shopping behavior shifting towards the online sphere, setting up an online shop can prove more feasible in some fields than showcasing products in a brick-and-mortar store.
The proliferation of online shopping is determining more and more businesses to start their own online store as a way to respond to the changing shopping patterns of consumers. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of starting your online shop with WordPress, and let you in on some tricks and ways to promote your online store.
Why use WordPress for Building Your Website?
Although WordPress started out as a blogging platform, today, there are virtually no barriers to what you can achieve with this content management system. It’s one of the most highly customizable CMSs due to its open-source nature and due to the free and premium plugins that are available for it. It is a beginner and user-friendly platform with a fast learning curve. WordPress is also an affordable option, and the possibility to use WordPress themes gives you plenty of leeway to choose the design that best fits your store. There are thousands of WordPress themes and while there are many free themes available with e-Commerce support, a premium theme will give you more control over the design of your online store. Premium themes also come with updates and premium support.
WordPress has the advantage of being easier to use than most CMSs, and due to its fast learning curve, you can learn how to manage it yourself. The strong and huge support community is a further advantage of this CMS. The extensive documentation and support can guide you through all the problems that you may encounter.
Why use WooCommerce for building your shop?
WooCommerce is a free e-Commerce plugin that seamlessly integrates with WordPress, and it’s a great alternative to premium storefront options. This e-Commerce plugin is laden with top-of-the-line features that allow you to quickly set up your online shop. Powering over 37% of all online stores, WooCommerce is your best choice if you want a customizable and extendable platform that will let you tailor your online store exactly how you want to. WooCommerce is an all-encompassing platform that will meet all of your logistical and technical requirements.
You’ll find WooCommerce in WordPress.org’s free plugin repository. Once you’ve added and installed the plugin, you have to activate it. Following activation, a setup window will appear that will guide you through the WooCommerce installation process. The setup process will automatically create some key pages (shop, cart, checkout, customer account page), will ask you to select the location, currency, units of measure that you will use, tax and shipping related aspects as well as payment methods. You will be able to further customize all these aspects with a plethora of free and paid WooCommerce extensions.
Upon returning to your WordPress dashboard, under WooCommerce’s Settings menu, you will be able to change, enable or disable certain settings. For example, you can enable Free Shipping under the Shipping tab or you can create coupons for a set amount or percentage.
Under the Product menu you will be able to organize your product categories, add tags, and ultimately add the products that you want to sell!
As far as WordPress WooCommerce plugins go, your options are virtually endless. These plugins allow you to create the online shop of your dreams.
WooCommerce Multilingual can help you translate your WooCommerce pages and allows users to switch languages when ordering your products. Payment-related plugins include Stripe for WooCommerce and Pay with Amazon.
The Product-Add-Ons extension is probably the most recommended WooCommerce extension that lets you add new options to your products such as drop-down menus, input boxes, checkboxes, file upload boxes and personalized text options for your customers, etc.
Dynamic Pricing is a pricing related extension that allows you to create and apply pricing rules for your online store. Whether you want to create a “Buy 2 get 1 free” promotion or you want to offer 20% off for certain members, the Dynamic Pricing extension can help you achieve that.
Whichever your e-Commerce need may be, there is a plugin or extension for it!
Abundance and variety are not an issue when it comes to WordPress WooCommerce themes. Built-in page templates, drag-and-drop page builders, responsiveness, custom colors, straightforward store layouts, premium sliders and many more are available in some of the best WooCommerce compatible themes. Just to get you started with a few ideas, here are some of the most popular WooCommerce themes in 2016: Shopkeeper, Storefront, Total, Flatsome, XStore, Kallyas, etc.
There are many hosting options available for online stores including shared hosting, managed hosting and dedicated hosting. An e-Commerce specific hosting plan may be your best solution if you’re looking for a hosting for your WooCommerce online shop.
BlueHost’s e-Commerce hosting plans include support for both WordPress and WooCommerce. One advantage of the BlueHost WooCommerce hosting is that it comes with WooCommerce already installed and includes advanced e-Commerce security, which means that a dedicated IP and SSL security are already included in the plan. A free domain name is also included in each plan so there is no need for you to purchase one separately. There are three hosting plans you can choose from: Starter for $12.95/month, Plus for $15,95/month, and Pro $23.95/month.
Ways to Promote Your Online Store
All set up with your online store? Time to take things for a ride! It’s time for you to step out into the world and make a name for your brand and products.
According to the PwC survey mentioned at the beginning of this article, 67% of all shoppers are influenced by social media, therefore, social media can be a powerful tool to promote your products. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts are the standard accounts for any business, however, depending on what you are selling, you can make use of Instagram and Pinterest too. Are you selling home decorations? Get your product photos trending!
You can start a blog and write about topics related to your products that may interest your target audience. Are you in the business of selling water filters? Write reviews and give installation and maintenance tips for your audience. Share your content on social media and make sure you write about things your audience is genuinely interested in. New quality content is also a good way to optimize your online store to rank higher in Google search results.
Running a promotion is an easy way to attract customers. Make use of WooCommerce’s built-in coupon feature, and offer free shipping and discounts.
If you can spare the budget, you can also consider pay-per-click marketing (e.g. Google AdWords), which allows you to advertise against search results. This can be costly in areas with high competition, but it can also help you get noticed.
Our advice? Try all or some of these methods and see what works best for you!
It may take some time for your business to get rolling, and the whole process of setting up an online shop requires an extremely proactive approach, but making use by the platform and tools offered by WordPress and WooCommerce can help you achieve your goals.