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WooCommerce is a great eCommerce platform that you should consider using if you are thinking about starting an online store. It is an extremely powerful plugin (that’s FREE) that transforms a simple WordPress site into a robust eCommerce website; in fact, it comes directly from the makers of WordPress: Automattic. Out of the box, WooCommerce includes everything you need to start selling your products online today! You can set coupons, track inventory, allow customers to customize their items and more with this free plugin. Because WooCommerce comes from the same people who bring you WordPress, it was built solely for it and they update it regularly for security purposes. The purpose of this post is to give you a quick look at the basic features of WooCommerce and demonstrate its ability to transform any WordPress site into an online store.
Quickly before we go over the basic features of WooCommerce, we need to inform you about a really important step that you should take before you even start selling online. Because your online store will be processing credit cards and collecting personal information and data from your customers, it is extremely EXTREMELY important that you have a solid platform for hosting your site on. The last thing you want is a hacker or remote attacker breaking into your site and stealing personal data; not only will this result in several angry customers, but also several lawsuits! Additionally, violating the European Union’s GDPR can result in several fines should anyone in the European Union purchase from you and their data gets compromised or stolen. You will want to ensure that your web host is solid and secure (CDG recommends WP Engine); also ensure that you have an SSL certificate on your site to secure any data being transmitted through it.
After initial setup of the WooCommerce plugin is complete, a new page is created in your WordPress site called “Shop”. There is no need to manually create a new page and add a link and picture of your new product every time you add one; this page will update itself every time you add a new product to your site. Each product is displayed on this page with the photo, title and price you set along with an “Add to Cart” button and a star-rating set by your customers (obviously, you will not see this unless someone rates your product. Do not set it yourself as a means to boost sales as that would be a dishonest practice). As with any conventional eCommerce website, the customer has the option to sort the products by certain attributes (such as displaying items from high to low price) for extra convenience.
Are you going to be selling different types of products? Organize your site for user convenience by splitting them up into categories; don’t just simply let them populate on the Shop page without any means of organization. By default, when you add products to your store they are simply added to the Shop page; the Shop page does not organize them by category. You will need to create a category page or you can use this free plugin that will give users the ability to filter products displayed on the shop page by category.
WooCommerce makes it easy for your customers to find what they want without even going to the shop page. WordPress includes a search function out of the box, but when used with WooCommerce customers can search by keyword for extra convenience. Ensure that when you list your product on your site, its title (or description) and/or category contains a keyword a customer is most likely going to search for. For example, if you are selling electronics and someone searches for “computer speakers” you will want to ensure that the word “speaker” is either in the product’s title or categorized under “Computer Accessories” (subsequently “Speakers” should be a subcategory of “Computer Accessories”).
If you want to offer discounts to your store’s customers, WooCommerce makes it very easy to create and manage coupon codes. You can set the amount you want to deduct from a sale price, set an expiration date and allow free shipping. Additionally, you set set limits on how many times a coupon code can be used as well as restrict it to certain items or amounts. After creating a coupon code, make sure you advertise them in your marketing materials (unless they are exclusive to certain customers).
If you are a frequent eBay user, you may have noticed while checking out your purchases that they use PayPal as their payment gateway system. PayPal used to be owned by eBay, and they continue to implement the service into their site; with WooCommerce you can also implement the same service eBay uses to make checkouts easier for your customers. Customers can store their bank accounts and credit cards in their PayPal account, so when they wish to make a purchase all they have to do is choose which card or account they want to use (eliminating the need to pull out their card and type in their card number). If a customer does not wish to create a PayPal account, they can still make purchases on your store by choosing the “Pay with Debit or Credit Card” option (as pictured above). We recommend using PayPal for its security and the convenience it can provide to your customers; it is free to set up an account however they do charge fees. You can mark up your prices to include the PayPal fees, which can be calculated using this nifty online calculator.
Immediately after installing the WooCommerce plugin, a new widget appears on the main dashboard page of your site (the page that appears right after you sign in to the admin area). Here you can take a quick look at the how much you made in a month as well as the month’s top selling product. The number of orders that are on hold or to be processed are featured as well as the products that are low in or out of stock. As an online store owner, you should never neglect these statistics as you may get an order that requires your attention before it can be processed.
If the products you sell come in different versions or variations (ex. a t-shirt that comes in different sizes and colors), then WooCommerce will allow you to set these variations easily. This eliminates the need to create an individual product page for each different version, as this would be extremely time consuming and would also make your product page too large. Imagine recreating a product page for each different size and color your shirts come in; it would take you several hours (or even days) to post them up in your store!
If you are looking to start your new online store soon, let CDG help you get your store built. We want your business to be presented professionally and ready to stand out among the crowd. Don’t imitate your competitors, let CDG help you build an online store that is unique to your brand! We will assist you every step of the way from startup to launch. If you are serious about building the online store of your dreams, contact us today for a
Disclaimer: CDG is an affiliate of WP Engine, the hosting company that we recommended at the beginning of this post. We do collect analytics for any sales made through links to WP Engine on this post.
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