“Your Online Store, Your Way: A Simple Guide to E-Commerce with WordPress”

To kickstart your online store using WordPress, you’ll need to secure a domain, opt for hosting services, and set up the WordPress platform. This comprehensive guide will walk you through each of these crucial steps and more!

Given its popularity, power, and scalability, WordPress is an ideal choice for those looking to establish an ecommerce website. However, for a successful online store on this platform, it’s essential to have reliable web hosting and effective plugins.

Our recommended combination for building your online store is Bluehost paired with WooCommerce, particularly if you plan to integrate it seamlessly with your WordPress site.

Outlined below are the nine essential steps to take in launching your ecommerce website with WordPressl

“Your Online Store, Your Way: A Simple Guide to E-Commerce with WordPress”

Your domain name acts as your website’s unique address, appearing after the ‘www.’ in your URL. For instance, ours is ‘websitebuilderexpert.com.’

You have the option to purchase a domain name from platforms such as NameCheap. Sometimes, you may be fortunate to find your desired domain available for the standard low rate of $10 to $20 per year (converted to approximately 740 to 1480 INR). However, if it’s not available, you might encounter the option to buy it from a third party at a higher cost, ranging from several hundred to even thousands of dollars. It’s crucial to note that these higher prices are typically for the first year, with renewal rates dropping to the standard $10 to $20 per year (approximately 740 to 1480 INR) thereafter.

When selecting a domain name, it’s advisable to keep it closely tied to your brand, ensuring it is concise and easy to remember.

Register with a hosting provider

Alright, now that you’ve secured your domain name, it’s time to find a web hosting provider.

Every website requires hosting – think of it as renting a piece of internet real estate. Ensure you choose a hosting provider that offers ample space for your site to grow.

When selecting the best hosting provider and the type of hosting you need, consider the nature of the store you’re building. One crucial tip: avoid shared hosting. Sharing a server with other websites makes your site vulnerable if one of them gets hacked, a risk you don’t want to take, especially when dealing with sensitive information like credit card details.

Our top recommendation for WordPress hosting is Bluehost. WordPress can be a bit intricate to manage compared to other e-commerce builders and platforms. With Bluehost, a lot of the processes, including software installation, updates, and security measures, are automated. This makes it an excellent choice, providing robust hosting at a reasonable price – a win-win situation for WordPress users.

Whether you’re just starting out with a modest product lineup or foresee substantial business expansion, we recommend initiating your journey with one of Bluehost’s WooCommerce hosting plans. These plans not only function as dedicated e-commerce powerhouses but are also crafted to enhance your overall user experience. Priced from approximately 950 INR per month, these plans offer convenient one-click payment processing installations and come with an automatically installed storefront theme. Furthermore, they empower you to sell an unlimited array of products, making them a comprehensive solution for your evolving business needs.

Install WordPress

There are two primary methods to install WordPress:

      1. ‘One-click’ installation through your hosting dashboard

      1. Manual downloading of WordPress, followed by uploading it to your hosting account

    The ‘one-click’ WordPress installation is notably the simpler option, and it’s the one we strongly recommend. When selecting a hosting provider, look for those that provide the convenience of ‘one-click’ installs. You can explore our list of the best WordPress hosts to find some top-notch options.

    Once you’ve signed up with a hosting provider offering this installation feature, the process is straightforward. Simply access your hosting dashboard and click on the ‘Install WordPress’ button. For a detailed walkthrough on installing WordPress with Bluehost, refer to our guide, keeping in mind that the procedure is quite similar with most hosting providers.

    Manual WordPress installation

    If your hosting provider doesn’t offer one-click WordPress installation, it’s a question of downloading WordPress to your computer, then uploading it to your hosting dashboard. It’s easy enough, it’s just not as easy. Check out this WordPress guide on installing the software yourself.

    Install and set up WooCommerce

    WooCommerce stands out as the most widely used WordPress plugin, enhancing your website with robust e-commerce capabilities. Garnering a remarkable 4.6/5 rating from over 3,000 users and boasting more than 4 million active installations, it’s safe to say that WooCommerce is exceptionally popular – and rightfully so.

    One of its primary attractions is that it comes free of charge. Much like WordPress itself, WooCommerce is an open-source platform collaboratively developed by a community. While certain ‘extensions’ may require payment (such as enabling customers to schedule appointments), you can transform your website into a fully functional online store without spending a single dollar. This encompasses essential features like:

        • Product pages

        • Cart and checkout functionality

        • Secure payment processing

        • Various shipping options and label printing

        • Automated tax calculations

        • Seamless integration with platforms such as Google Analytics, Facebook, MailChimp, and more.

      Top Tip: It’s super easy to set up WooCommerce with Bluehost. One of the biggest headaches with an ecommerce store can be getting everything ready to go live, but that’s not the case with Bluehost’s WooCommerce plans. They come with an online store website theme pre-installed, and offer one-click installations for payment processing.

      We’re pretty keen on WooCommerce, as you can see. But if you don’t fancy WooCommerce for any reason, take a look at our roundup of the top WooCommerce alternatives

      For now, though, we’ll assume that’s what you’ll be using, and walk you through the process of installing and configuring it:

      1. Install and Enable WooCommerce

      Access your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the plugin directory by selecting ‘Plugin’ from the left-hand menu:

      Plugin directory

      Searching for WooCommerce in theme directory

      Searching for WooCommerce in theme directory

      After a brief moment, the button will change to a blue one that says ‘Activate.’ Click this button.

      WooCommerce’s helpful setup wizard will then open to walk you through the rest of the setup process.

      2. Input Business Information

      Initially, you’ll need to provide your business details, which is a straightforward process:

      Adding business details to WooCommerce

      Adding business details to WooCommerce Ensure you choose the correct option under ‘I plan to sell both physical and digital products.’

      Note: Digital products typically include downloadable items like WordPress themes, online courses, and stock photos, while physical products are tangible items like a digital camera.

      3. Configure Payment Options

      The next step involves selecting the payment methods your store will accept.

      Setting up WooCommerce payments

      Setting up WooCommerce payments Considering Stripe and PayPal’s popularity, it’s advisable to enable both. You can add your accounts at a later time if they’re not set up yet.

      4. Confirm shipping options

      Next, you’ll be asked to choose your shipping rates. WooCommerce will recognize the area you’re currently in, and set this as your main ‘shipping zone’, with the other option basically being ‘the rest’:

      Configure woocommerce shipping options

      You can either set a fixed price for each zone, set shipping as free, or integrate with specific carriers (including UPS) to get ‘live’ shipping rates.

      5. Choose complementary plugins/theme

      The next stage is to decide which ‘recommended’ plugins to take forward to your store, and whether you want to opt for WooCommerce’s own theme.

      Choose additional WooCommerce plugins

      It’s really easy to add these later on, so don’t feel you have to commit to anything right now. We’ll cover recommended plugins and themes a little later on in the article, so feel free to ‘unselect’ these for now, unless you’re sure you need them.

      6. Activate Jetpack

      In the final configuration step, you’ll be asked to activate Jetpack.

      Enable Jetpack

      This will enable payment setup and automate taxes for you later down the line. Hit ‘Continue with Jetpack’… 

      …and that’s your basic configuration sorted! Now, it’s time to add your products.

      Before moving on to the next step, make sure you’ve:

          • Found WooCommerce in the WordPress plugin directory, installed it, and activated it

          • Added your key business details

          • Chosen shipping and payment options – remember, you can change these later!

        Selecting a Theme

            • Your website’s ‘theme’ serves as the foundational design for all your web content. WordPress offers extensive customization capabilities, allowing you to modify or add to the HTML code and create a unique look.

          However, unless you possess coding expertise and desire complete customization, it’s prudent to choose a theme that closely aligns with your envisioned final design. In simpler terms, opt for a theme that suits your preferences and complements your e-commerce site – even if it means investing in a premium template from a third-party site. This decision can save you considerable hassle in the long run.

          Notable third-party sites for purchasing themes include ThemeForest (offering a vast selection) and Elegant Themes (featuring a smaller, curated collection). Many other excellent sites are available.

          Once you’ve prepared a substantial number of products, it’s time to embark on the enjoyable task of choosing a theme.

          For free WordPress themes, navigate to the theme directory via your dashboard:

              1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard.

              1. Hover over ‘Appearance’ and click on ‘Themes’ to access the theme dashboard.

              1. Click the ‘Add New’ button above the themes, then explore themes under ‘Featured,’ ‘Popular,’ etc., or use the search bar for specific industries.

              1. Test out a few themes to find the one you prefer, then click ‘Install’ under the selected theme to download it.

              1. After a short wait, a button will appear under the theme, stating ‘Activate.’ Click it, and the theme is now active.

            For installing a premium theme on your site:

                1. Download the .zip file of your chosen theme.

                1. Log in to your WordPress Dashboard.

                1. Hover over ‘Appearance’ and click on ‘Themes’ to access the theme dashboard.

                1. Click ‘Add New’ to reach the WordPress theme dashboard.

                1. Click the blue ‘Upload Theme’ button at the top.

                1. You’ll be prompted to choose a .zip file from your computer – select your new theme file.

                1. A success message will appear, providing a link to activate your theme. That’s it – you’re ready to roll!

              Pro tip: WooCommerce offers its theme, Storefront, which seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce and boasts a sleek appearance.

              That said, because anyone can theoretically build a template and pop it on the internet, it’s vital you assess how trustworthy one is before you take the plunge. Choose a poorly-made theme, and you could leave yourself vulnerable to hackers. And don’t forget to ‘demo’ each one to get a feel for how your real-life site could look.

              Before moving on to the next step, make sure you’ve:

                  • Browsed both free and premium themes 

                  • Found a design you liked, and tried it out using the ‘demo’ function

                  • Checked reviews to make sure it’s reliable 

                  • Installed the theme (different methods for themes in the directory and those bought from a third party site – see steps above)

                Add products

                Once you’ve installed Jetpack – the last stage of your initial WooCommerce configuration – you’ll see a screen inviting you to add your first product.

                End of configuring WooCommerce

                If you’re not ready to upload yet, that’s fine. When you return to your dashboard, just go to ‘Products’ down the left hand side, then ‘Add New’:

                Adding new product to WooCommerce

                For every product you upload, you’ll need the following things: 

                    1. Product name – e.g. Cute Pale Grey Cement Plant Pot

                    1. Price – e.g. $12.95

                    1. Main product image – this should be a picture of the whole product, from the front

                    1. Additional product images (optional, but recommended) – include pictures from as many different angles as possible, and add closeups of finer details

                    1. Product description (long) – e.g. ‘Inject some Scandinavian cool into your home with this simple cement planter. Features a drainage hole and comes with small matching dish, so your plant won’t get over-watered. Height: 15cm. Diameter: 8cm.’

                    1. Short product description – e.g. ‘Simple cement planter with drainage hole and matching tray.’

                    1. Product category (if you have more than one) – e.g. Plant Pots

                  Adding products with WooCommerce

                  How you add products to your site depends on the type of product you’re adding. There are six main types: 

                      1. Simple 

                      1. Grouped 

                      1. External/Affiliate 

                      1. Variable

                      1. Downloadable 

                      1. Virtual

                    WooCommerce has an excellent, detailed guide explaining what each product type means, and how to go about uploading each type. 

                    For now, we’ll stick with our plant pot example. This is a simple product (the pot in question doesn’t have any alternative sizes or colours – if it did, it would be a variable product).

                    Adding product on WooCommerce pt 2

                    Adding product on WooCommerce example

                    Here, you can see how we’ve populated this screen with all the information we included above. Note how we’ve added this product to the category ‘Plant pots’ on the right hand side. We just clicked ‘+Add new category’ which is underlined on the right, named our new category and selected it, then unselected ‘Uncategorized’. If we had more pictures of our lovely plant pot, they would go in the ‘Product gallery’ section under the main image.

                    Once you’ve added this key information, you’ll need to click through all the tabs in the middle to add all the specific details of your product. Here’s a quick overview of what’s covered in every tab of the product data section:

                        1. General – this is the tab we’re in currently, and covers price and tax

                        1. Inventory – the place to add SKUs etc. if you want to be able to track your inventory

                        1. Shipping – product dimensions and shipping cost 

                        1. Linked products – update later with complementary products to upsell 

                        1. Attributes – if you have a variable product (one with different sizing or colour options, for example), then this is the place to add the different versions

                      Once you’re happy with your product, hit the blue ‘Publish’ button towards the top on the right hand side. 

                      To see any products you publish, go to ‘All products’ in the menu on the right, and they’ll appear like this:

                      'All products' WooCommerce

                      Before moving on to the next step, make sure you’ve:

                          • Written a title, long description, and short description for each product you want to upload

                          • Taken product pictures 

                          • Uploaded products to your WordPress dashboard

                          • Organized products by category

                        Install additional plugins

                        Alongside WooCommerce, here are three plugins we really rate for online stores:

                        1. Yoast for SEO guidance

                        Having the best online store in the world won’t mean a thing if nobody can find it! Enter, Yoast SEO – the handy plugin that will help you climb the search engine rankings, giving you the best possible chance of securing a spot on page one. SEO stands for search engine optimization; it’s all about making small changes to your site to help search engines ‘read’ and ‘understand’ your content better, and to ‘prioritize’ it well as a result. 

                        2. Securi for security

                        When you’re dealing with card payments on your site, the security stakes are much higher. While there are free security plugins available (such as Wordfence), we think this is an area that’s worth spending a little extra on. Securi plans start at $199/year, and you’ll need to install the free plugin from the WordPress directory to enable it.

                        P.S. – We probably don’t need to say this, but securing your site is crucial. So don’t push it into the “too hard” pile – find out how to secure your WordPress website with our dedicated guide.

                        3. Site Reviews for reviews

                        It has been consistently proven that social proof is one of the most important factors for getting users to take a desired action – in this case, that means buying your products. Installing Site Reviews will enable customers to leave a review on your site.

                        Adding plugins to your site is super simple: 

                            1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard.

                            1. Head to ‘Plugins’, then ‘Add New’.

                            1. Use the search bar in the top right hand side to search for specific plugins, or the general feature you’re looking for.

                            1. Once you’ve found one you like the sound of, look at its reviews and ratings to check it seems trustworthy.

                            1. Once you’re happy with your choice, hit the ‘Install Now’ button.

                            1. Once WordPress has finished downloading the plugin, you’ll get a completion message, and be prompted to click ‘Activate Plugin’.

                            1. Next, head to settings to configure your plugin – each one will have a different process for this, but should have instructions in the plugin description.

                          Before moving on to the next step, make sure you’ve:

                              • Thought about any extras you need for your site 

                              • Found the right plugins to add this functionality

                              • Checked reviews to make sure they’re trustworthy, before then installing  

                            Add content that converts

                            Now it’s time to adjust the copy on your key pages. Find these key pages by heading to ‘Pages’, then ‘All Pages’. 

                            We’ve written a whole guide to writing for the web, jam-packed with advice from copywriting experts – make sure you give it a read! 

                            For now though, we’ll be honing in on some specific types of content. Nail all the elements below, and you’ll be well on the way to launching a successful ecommerce store: 

                            1. Microcopy

                            ‘Microcopy’, sometimes referred to as ‘UX copy’, refers to the little bits of navigational copy on your site, as well as error messages and ‘calls to action’ (CTAs). 

                            Word for word, this is the most important copy on your site. It guides users through your site, and reassures/persuades them at key points (such as when they’re about to part with their money). 

                            Take your time to write this with care. Think about your user’s mindset at each stage of their journey through the website. For example, on the homepage, it might be more appropriate to have a button leading to your product saying ‘Find out more information’, or ‘Have a browse’. Something more pushy, like ‘Buy now’, might be very off putting – at this stage, your user is interested in finding out about your brand, but probably not ready to buy. 

                            2. Product descriptions

                            These should be short, but helpful – and as the name would imply, descriptive. Think about everything you’d want to know when buying that product for yourself, particularly things that aren’t evident from the product photos. Use bullet points to separate out the information, and keep the formatting and info consistent across all products.

                            3. Product images

                            The quality of your product images can really make or break your site. Use a good quality camera and a simple background for best results. A general rule is, ‘the more product photos, the better’. As with the descriptions, keep your product images consistent for a sleek-looking site.

                            Top tip! Be sure to compress your images with a tool like TinyPNG or Kraken. This will reduce the file size without compromising image quality, helping to keep your site as fast as possible.

                            4. Privacy Policy

                            An important component of any website, WordPress will actually ask you to select a privacy policy page before putting your site public. Luckily, there’s a handy template available for you to follow.

                            Simply head to ‘Settings’, then ‘Privacy’, then click ‘Check out our guide’. Once that’s written up, just select the right page from the dropdown menu underneath.

                            Before moving on to the next step, make sure you’ve:

                                • Personalized the content of your website, including the main cart and shop pages 

                                • Carefully crafted persuasive CTAs and helpful navigational copy 

                                • Written and uploaded a privacy policy page

                              Make your site public

                              Once you’re basically happy with how your site works (remember you can always ‘Preview’ pages to see how they’d look live), it’s time to make it public. 

                              This is the easy part! 

                              Go to ‘Settings’, then ‘Privacy’. Once you’ve uploaded your privacy policy, you should see the option to turn your site ‘Public’.

                              Before moving on to the next step, make sure you’ve:

                                  • Made your site public, so people can start shopping!

                                How to Make a WordPress Ecommerce Website: Summary

                                And there you have it! The 9 steps to successfully launching an ecommerce website. Let’s recap them one last time: 

                                    1. Score the perfect domain name

                                    1. Sign up to a hosting provider

                                    1. Install WordPress

                                    1. Install and configure WooCommerce

                                    1. Add products

                                    1. Choose a theme

                                    1. Install additional plugins

                                    1. Add content that converts

                                    1. Make your site public

                                  We’ve aimed to make this guide as simple as possible, but the reality is that WordPress is best-suited to those with some tech experience. If (like many!) you wouldn’t put yourself in that bracket, not to worry – ecommerce website builders are designed to be easy for anyone to use, and prices start at just $15/month. Check out our ecommerce website builder reviews or comparison table to find out more.

                                  We’d love to know how you found building an ecommerce store, either with WordPress or a website builder. Leave a comment below, or email us at info@foxmarlin.com .

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