This article is a guest post from Sujay Pawar, the CEO and Founder of Brainstorm Force.
Selling online has become super important, especially in the last few years. If you’re a small business owner, you should definitely have an eCommerce store. Combining WordPress and WooCommerce is the easiest and best way to set up an online store...but how do you create one?
In this post, we will walk you through how to set up a WooCommerce store for your small business.
We’ll go through each step and show you screenshots, too. After that, we’ll also discuss some essential plugins that every WooCommerce store should have.
Let’s get building!
What Is WordPress and Why Should You Use It?
Before we jump into the walkthrough, let’s briefly discuss both WordPress and WooCommerce. While some readers might be familiar with them, others may be totally new to eCommerce.
WordPress is one of the most popular ways to create a website. With over 65 million users, WordPress powers over 455 million websites. It is used by many well-known sites, including TechCrunch, The New Yorker, BBC America, and many others.
With WordPress, you can create just about any kind of website that you can dream of — including a store for your small business. But how can you do that?
What Is WooCommerce and Why Should You Use It?
WooCommerce is a free plugin that you can install on your WordPress site. It allows you to sell products and accept payments easily with a very simple setup process.
WooCommerce is used by nearly 4 million websites, which is 6.8% of the top 1 million sites on the Internet.
Many of these sites are small businesses, but it’s also used by some famous brands like AirStream and AeroPress.
Connecting WooCommerce to WordPress is very easy. You simply need to install a plugin on your website. But more on that later.
What Do You Need for an Online Store?
There are a number of different elements that go into setting up an online store.
To set up your WooCommerce store, you’ll need at least 5 things:
- Domain and hosting. First and foremost, you’ll need a domain name and a web host. You can purchase these separately, but many companies like SiteGround or NameCheap will allow you to buy both at once.
- WordPress. Once you have a domain and a host, you’ll need to install WordPress. Usually your host will have an easy way to install it, typically via cPanel. Other hosts may have WordPress pre-installed.
- WooCommerce compatible WordPress theme. While WooCommerce will technically work with any theme, it’s best to pick one that is optimized for eCommerce.
- WooCommerce. To set up a WooCommerce store, you’ll obviously need WooCommerce for WordPress!
- Other essential plugins. Finally, you’ll want to install some other essential plugins to round out your site. These cover functions like security, analytics, caching, and more.
Ready to build your WooCommerce store?
How To Create a WooCommerce Store for Your Small Business
Let’s walk through the steps of setting up an online store. This process should take you about 30 minutes to complete.
First, you’ll need to install WordPress on your web host. Many hosts do this automatically, but for those that don’t, there are usually installation wizards like cPanel.
Here are some guides for some popular hosts:
During the installation process, you'll need to create a user account, give your site a name, and fill out some other settings.
Install a WordPress Theme
Once you have WordPress up and running, it’s time to install a theme.
We recommend using Astra, as it is one of the best free themes available that is designed specifically for WooCommerce. It loads very quickly, requires no coding knowledge, and can be quickly modified using a drag-and-drop interface.
There are also nearly 200 premade templates you can use to quickly create a beautiful eCommerce website.
"Astra is the top-rated theme in our WooCommerce Best Themes list for both 2021 & 2022."— WP All Import
Next, it’s time to install the WooCommerce plugin itself.
To do this, go to Plugins > Add New on your WordPress sidebar.
Search for WooCommerce, then click Install Now and then Activate.
Now you have activated WooCommerce!
WooCommerce Setup Using the Wizard
Go to WooCommerce on your WordPress sidebar. You will now be presented with a WooCommerce setup wizard that has seven steps.
These steps are store details, products, payments, tax, shipping, marketing, and some other options. The entire process shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes or so.
On the first WooCommerce setup step, add some basic information about your shop.
This includes your address, industry, product types, business details, and theme. You can just continue with your current theme that we selected in an earlier step.
Add Products to Your Store
The next WooCommerce setup step is adding products to your store. You can add your products manually or automatically.
There are four different ways to complete this step and add products to your WooCommerce shop:
- Start with a template. These templates allow you to easily add physical and digital products to WooCommerce.
- Add manually. This allows you to add products individually, one at a time. It’s mostly recommended for smaller businesses with a limited inventory.
- Import via CSV. This setting lets you import a large number of products via an Excel (CSV) file. If you’re a WP All Import User, you can use this setting to easily import your data.
- Import from another service. This links you to Cart2Cart, a service that helps you migrate your products from another eCommerce system.
Select whichever option applies to your business and then add your products.
How to Set Up Payments and a Payment Gateway
After you’ve added products to your store, you need to select a payment gateway. There are many different options available.
WooCommerce allows you to accept payments using a variety of payment methods, including credit cards, American Express, Apple Pay, and others.
If you scroll down, you’ll also see some other payment options. These include Stripe Credit Cards, PayPal Payments, cash on delivery, and direct bank transfers.
Stripe, in particular, has a very good reputation and is definitely one of our top recommendations.
Configure Tax Settings
After adding your payment methods, you’ll also need to add tax information. As taxes are largely determined by geographical location, the first question asks for your store location.
For step 2, you have three options:
- You can install Jetpack, an add-on plugin for WordPress that can manage this setting (and many others) for you. If you pick this option, you’ll install the Jetpack plugin and then connect to WordPress.com to calculate the sales tax percentage.
- You can set up tax manually. If you pick this option, you will be taken to the Tax tab where you can set up your tax preferences manually.
- You can skip charging tax entirely. This is helpful if you manage taxes offline or otherwise don’t need to calculate them on your site.
After setting up your tax settings, it’s on to the next step.
How to Set Up Shipping
If you sell digital products, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you’ll need to fill out this section.
Set your store location and then add the shipping costs. You can choose whether you will ship internationally, too.
You can also use WooCommerce Shipping to help manage the label printing process. This is definitely a helpful option if you want to automate the shipping process.
Testing Everything Before Launch
Finally, before you launch anything and make it public, be sure to test and double-check everything. You don’t want to miss out on revenue because of a misplaced setting!
Essential Plugins for a WooCommerce Store
Now that you’ve got WooCommerce completely set up, you might be ready to launch your small business eCommerce store. But wait! You aren’t quite ready for it just yet.
Before launching your site, we recommend installing some other useful WordPress plugins.
They will help with everything from security to analytics.
First and foremost, you should install a security plugin. These plugins help keep your site protected against any malicious actors, which is especially important for eCommerce sites that are handling money.
The two best security plugins available for WordPress are Sucuri and Wordfence.
- Sucuri is a well-known plugin that beefs up the security of your website. It includes file integrity monitoring, post-hack actions, blocklists, and more functions to help secure your site.
- Wordfence is another good security plugin. It includes a firewall, malware scanner, blocklist, and other security features.
Importing Data Plugin
If you are coming from a different management tool or website builder, you’ll probably want to import your data. You can easily do this with a plugin like WP All Import. This powerful plugin lets you import data from any XML, CSV, or Excel file straight into your WordPress site. It works well with WooCommerce too, making it easy to import your products from another system into your WooCommerce shop.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is essentially just the action of optimizing your site to appear higher in Google search results. An SEO plugin, then, helps improve your SEO and gets your content to rank higher in search results.
There are many different SEO plugins available for WordPress, but the two best ones are Yoast and All in One SEO (AIOSEO).
- Yoast is the most well-known SEO plugin for WordPress. It comes with tons of automated SEO improvements that include canonical URLs, meta tags, XML sitemaps, and other SEO essentials.
- All in One SEO is another very popular SEO plugin. It has everything you need to optimize SEO: sitemaps, local SEO, and WooCommerce-specific settings.
It’s also recommended to get some type of tool for keyword rank tracking if you have the budget for it. This will allow you to easily track the terms you’re trying to rank for and see your progress over time.
Caching is an often-overlooked way to dramatically improve the loading speed of your website. Luckily, there are a number of good plugins out there that help you use caching.
The two most popular ones are WP Rocket and W3 Cache.
- WP Rocket is the most powerful set of tools for caching. In a matter of clicks, you can boost your page speed, reduce bouncing, improve SEO, and more.
- W3 Total Cache is another great caching plugin. It’s aimed more at free users, but still packs a powerful punch.
Conversion plugins help you gain more customers by improving the design and layout of your sales page. There are many different kinds of conversion plugins, but we recommend using Convert Pro, which has a variety of features built-in.
Convert Pro is a powerful conversion tool that comes with many features. These include popups, triggers, exit intent actions, and other features to improve your conversion rate.
It’s important to let users contact you and/or submit data to your site. To do this, you’ll need a forms plugin.
There are perhaps hundreds of different form plugins available for WordPress, but our two recommendations are WP Forms and Contact Form 7.
- WPForms is a powerful form builder. It has a drag-and-drop interface and allows you to create a variety of different form types, such as contact forms, newsletter forms, registration forms, and dozens of others.
- Contact Form 7 is a simple but powerful form plugin. It’s completely free to use and has most form functions that you’ll need.
Finally, you’ll want to install an analytics plugin. These plugins help you get more data about your visitors, the pages they visit, what links they click on, and more. The most popular analytics tool is called Google Analytics.
There are two major analytics plugins for WordPress that work with Google Analytics, GA Google Analytics and MonsterInsights.
- MonsterInsights is the most popular plugin for using Google Analytics with WordPress. It gives you real-time analytics, including conversion rates, device breakdowns, bounce rates, and more.
- GA Google Analytics is another well-known tool. It is much more affordable than MonsterInsights. It has many of the same features as MonsterInsights.
Top Tips for Growing Your WooCommerce store
Once you have completed WooCommerce setup, you’re still not quite done yet. You’ll need to market your business!
In this last section, we’ll share some general tips for optimizing and growing your WooCommerce store.
Optimize Checkout and Product Pages
You’ll definitely want to make sure that your checkout page works well and looks good, too. After all, it is the last page customers will see before finalizing their purchase.
In addition, you should look at the pages for each individual product that you sell. Depending on the number of products that you offer, this can either be an easy or time-consuming process.
Create Sales Funnels
A sales funnel is simply the path that leads your customers to make a purchase. It starts with them visiting your website and ends with them purchasing a product. Setting up an effective sales funnel is a very good idea if you want to maximize the revenue of your small business.
Email marketing is a big part of an effective sales strategy. Be sure to set up a variety of email types, including a newsletter, post notifications, cart abandonment emails, and others.
Adding Other Payment Methods
Customers often want to pay with a specific payment method, so be certain to offer different ways of purchasing your products. These can include cryptocurrency, bank transfer, check, credit card, and many other payment types that vary based on the region.
Explore WooCommerce Extensions
As a final suggestion, check out the WooCommerce Extensions library. There are dozens of super useful tools that you can use to customize and extend the functionality of your website.
How To Set Up an Online Store With WordPress and WooCommerce
With so much commerce happening on the internet, it’s critical to set up your small business online, too. Although the process can be a little complicated, using WooCommerce for WordPress is a simple and easy way to sell your products online.
In this post, we walked you through how to set up an eCommerce site using WooCommerce and WordPress. We also discussed some other must-have WordPress plugins, plus shared our best tips for improving the performance of your WooCommerce shop.
Do you have a WooCommerce website for your small business? What has your experience been with using it? Share your thoughts below!
About the Author
Sujay Pawar is the CEO and Co-Founder of Brainstorm Force, the company behind Astra. He's passionate about the online space and writes articles to help entrepreneurs and freelancers succeed online. You can connect with Sujay on Twitter @sujaypawar or via email at [email protected].