The era of online shopping is here as the consumers’ inclination towards e-commerce is a tell-tale sign of its success. Owing to this trend, for the past few years, a large number of businesses have moved to the e-commerce domain, and many of them have succeeded in making a cut. Though there are many elements behind the rising acceptance for e-commerce, WordPress is the one that plays a significant role for online businesses to hammer home success.
Do you want to launch your own online store?
Are you ready to tap this highly promising business landscape?
The necessary first step to take before embarking on this propitious journey is to create a powerful e-commerce website. For that, WordPress is the most obvious platform as it is powering a considerable number of websites around the world.
According to the latest statistics from Kinsta, by October 2018, WordPress had made it to the current market share of 32%. Because of its extensibility and user-friendliness, WordPress is not just limited to just blogging platform, it’s also become an e-commerce powerhouse. It effortlessly offers you many different ways to build your online store for all sorts of markets and every type of products.
The extreme popularity of WordPress is attributed to the following more reasons:
- It’s estimated that there are 75+ million installations of WordPress till date.
- It allows you to gain full control over your website.
- WordPress is completely free, flexible, open source, and scalable.
- It easily integrates themes and plugins to customize its functionality.
- Its functionality can be constantly updated for better security.
- It has a multi-user capability.
- WordPress is highly Customizable and SEO-friendly.
Here is a step-by-step procedure to create a WordPress-powered e-commerce website:
1. Choose Your Domain Name and Hosting Provider
To be able to run your online storefront, the first thing you need to have is a domain name and a web hosting account. To put it simply, your domain name is your online business’ address on the internet, and where users can access your website. Now, there is a lot to consider before choosing a domain name for your store. It should be fairly short, relevant to what you sell, and easy to remember.
I reckon the best domain names are the ones which in itself tell what your business stands for. Make sure you pick a name that you can stick with for a good amount of time so you can build your reputation and authority. For example, if you are selling a clothing line or trendy apparels online, you can use a domain name as Truefashionrage.com.
While WordPress itself is a free platform, you’ll still need to buy the domain name that can cost you anywhere from $5 to $10 per year. To successfully run your online store on the internet, you also need a hosting provider – a service that provides you space on its computer server so you can sell your products or services on the World Wide Web.
E-commerce hosting can be helpful for you in a number of ways, including templates for building virtual catalogs, customizing electronic shopping carts, customer order processing, secure credit-card transaction, and tools for tracking and managing inventory.
So having a dedicated hosting provider, you have an assurance that your website will load quickly as well as immune to the extended periods of downtime. There are many user-friendly hosting platforms for online businesses, and a control panel, like cPanel, can make your life much easier. It provides a graphical interface and automation tools designed to simplify the process of hosting your storefront.
There are many cPanel features that work best for e-commerce sites, such as, compatibility, reliability, and flexible database management. Furthermore, you also have the option of a shared host, where your website is on the same server as several other websites.
2. Select and Install an E-Commerce Plugin
There’s no doubt WordPress builds a powerful foundation for your online store, but you need to add functionality with which you will sell products directly from your site. For that, you have to install an e-commerce plugin, and first on the list is WooCommerce. It supports more than a million active installs and covers more than a third of the entire online shop market.
WooCommerce is a feature-rich platform that has its own plugin system, and is highly customizable, thereby giving you the total control over your online store. It offers product variations, different payment gateways, and shipping options. Additionally, WooCommerce is developer-friendly and integrates well with almost any theme.
Installation of WooCommerce
Once your hosting provider has automatically installed WordPress on your site, you will see a welcome message like the one shown below. Here we’ve used Hostpresto as a hosting provider just for example:
The next message you will see on your screen is as follows:
Next, inside the Dashboard, you have to run the WooCommerce Setup Wizard by clicking on the button.
Then, choose the country where your store is located, currency, and type of products that you plan to sell.
Next, set up the payment method. Aside from PayPal, you can also accept offline payments like bank transfer and check payments.
Then, choose the measuring units you prefer to calculate the shipping cost of your products.
During the setup wizard, WooCommerce may recommend the following plugin to enhance your store. If you don’t want these to be installed and activated, just click the “Skip this step” button below.
You can also activate Jetpack to help you monitor your online store performance.
After having put all the necessary information in these important areas, your online store with WooCommerce plugin is all set up. You will then get the following window:
3. Add Products to Your Online Store
Now that you have successfully installed your plugin, it’s time to start adding products and their product pages.
You need to visit Products » Add New page to add a new product, as follows:
It’s easy to add products in your WooCommerce store. But for every product you add, you must include the product name, price, image, and a brief description. Begin by entering your WordPress admin panel, select “Products” on the sidebar, and click on “Add Product.”
After this, you will get an important field called “Product data.” This is where you will provide product related information like pricing, inventory, shipping etc.
WooCommerce can be used to sell both digital downloads and physical goods that need shipping. The process of adding virtual products is the same as that of physical products. The only thing you have to do is check the “Virtual” or “Downloadable” boxes next to Product Type.
Things to remember while uploading products:
Don’t forget the product titles
Your product titles should resonate with customers. How you structure titles and what attributes they contain can be key to your store’s personality. Having the right titles affects everything from performance in search, navigation to scanning. Your products should always be named in the title bar.
Write catchy descriptions
While describing your products, you need to be unique and creative. Well-Written product description will captivate your customers, and they might end up placing an order. So make it interesting, impactful, and short.
Use high-quality images
Good quality product images are key to selling your products online. Product images are the only representation of the goods that customers will receive. Make sure these images show your products from every angle with clarity. Also, you need to be consistent with the quality.
Categorize and tag accordingly
Place your products under categories and tags. It will help you on two counts – customers can easily find them, and Google will process them as keywords.
4. Choose a Theme
To a large extent, WordPress themes control the visual appeal of your online storefront. Just like any physical store, your online shop should be designed in such a way that your customer develop a sense of attachment towards it. You need to make it presentable and attractive; for that, find and install the right theme on it. Your theme determines the entire layout and feel of your site. It also controls how your products are displayed.
For example, when you enter a Starbucks coffeehouse, you get instantly connected to it. You must have noticed Starbuck’s design reflects the character of the store’s surrounding neighborhood so it can resonate among the customers. Similarly, your storefront’s theme should entice your prospects so that they can easily connect with your business.
To install a free theme, navigate to Appearance » Themes in your WordPress dashboard. Then click the Add New Theme box, as follows:
WooCommerce is already loaded with many default/preinstalled themes. But if you want your online shop to really stand out, you can also opt for a custom WooCommerce theme.
Things to consider before choosing a theme for your e-commerce site:
Today, more and more people are using mobile for shopping. So your theme must be responsive and adapt to all the different screen resolutions and devices. It also makes it rank higher in search engine results.
If your theme doesn’t produce a good visual treat, there’s no point using it. After all, a great theme is one that captivates browsers and invites them to become buyers. The display of products should be such your prospects can’t resist themselves from making a purchase.
Security is one of the main concerns for e-commerce business owners today. There is invaluable business as well as customer data with online shopping companies, which needs to be protected. Your theme should be able to protect every page of your site to reduce the likelihood of a potential cyber attack.
Your e-commerce theme should support all the important functional activities, such as shipping, payment, checkout, etc. Yet make sure it is lightweight as well as compatible with a variety of important extensions.
Your theme should be such that adding and tracking of products should be easily accomplished, with a minimum effort. Marketing, promotional and SEO functions should be integrated to help you attract attention to the site.
5. Add Additional Payment Methods
A payment gateway is a channel that fulfills an important role in e-commerce transaction process between merchant and customer. It works on encryption and verification technology for the simple reason that online shopping involves distance and anonymity.
The fact is accepting payments from your customers isn’t akin to flipping a switch, but it doesn’t have to be complicated, either. Thus, adding the right payment gateways, it’ll be easier for your customers to pay for your products. While making the final purchase on your site, your customer is directed towards payment gateways. Make sure you offer all the payment options for them. PayPal is one of the leading payment gateways available, but it’s not necessarily everyone’s preference. WooCommerce, therefore, supports a wide variety of other payment gateways.
Here’s a list of supported gateways:
- Authorize.Net CIM
- Chase Paymentech
- Elavon Converge
- First Data (Payeezy Gateway)
- First Data (Payeezy)
- Intuit Payments
- Intuit QBMS
While choosing the right payment gateway, the first thing you need to look for is PCI-Compliance and SSL certification. These certifications make your website fully secure for any kind of transactions. Furthermore, you can consider using integrated payment gateways. The biggest advantage of this is that customers never have to leave your store to input payment information and submit orders — it’s a smooth, seamless experience.
WordPress is the most widely used e-commerce platform in the world because of its numerous features like compatibility, flexibility, and customizability.
Although WordPress is the number one choice for e-commerce marketers, setting up an online storefront is not a cakewalk, either. It takes a lot of consideration on your part.
To make most of its features, you have to install WordPress properly and follow certain steps. You need a good hosting, a relevant domain name, and a powerful plugin called WooCommerce. Inside the online store, you need to add your products with a detailed description, use an interactive theme, and incorporate a safe and sound payment gateway.
Author bio: Smith Willas is a freelance writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. He has a management degree in Supply Chain & Operations Management and Marketing and boasts a wide-ranging background in digital media.