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One of the best parts of getting into the e-commerce world is that it’s easier than ever. There are a huge range of services that can provide you with everything you need to set up your online store with just a few clicks. Find the right ecommerce platform, you’re off to a good start!
In our previous article on what to consider before building an ecommerce store, we have outlined some of the best ecommerce platforms. This time around, we are necessarily building an online store with WordPress, one of the most popular and flexible ecommerce solutions.
Why use WordPress?
WordPress is an open source and open source content management system developed by a core group of leading developers and communities made up entirely of volunteers. About one quarter of all websites on the Internet have WordPress as their content management system, and for good reason – it combines ease of use that allows it to be applied to the most basic websites and add-on modularity that allows its functionality to be extended to met almost all needs.
Its open source, community-managed nature also ensures that WordPress is constantly up-to-date with security patches and new features. Guides and documentation that will seem to you about anything can be found all over the web – if you have a question about WordPress, it’s almost certainly answered already.
WordPress is especially useful when building an ecommerce site, as there are many pre-made ecommerce themes. It also includes add-ons that add complete ecommerce functionality to the site, from product displays to shopping carts and ordering.
Finally, one of the main reasons for WordPress is that it is a flexible platform that gives you full control over what your website does and how it looks. At the top of the page, you can also include the blog, forum and any other pages you need.
All of this comes at no constant cost for using the WordPress platform. Your monthly fees come from your hosting company and domain registrar, with WordPress itself being free to use and certain add-ons and topics being one-off purchases.
Planning to create an online store with WordPress? This blog post will help you with each step of the process.
Step 1: Choose your domain name and hosting provider.
The first step in setting up WordPress eCommerce begins with your domain name. This will become the address of your future website. A domain name is what you type in your browser’s address bar to access the site.
Although WordPress itself is free, you will have to pay for your domain name, which starts at $ 10 per year. This cost is well worth it because owning your own domain name (i.e., yourbusinessname.com) is far more professional than your own name in another domain (i.e., yourbusinessname.otherdomain.com).
Read: Singapore Domain Registration: A Complete Guide
You will also need a hosting provider to host your website on the Internet. By having a dedicated hosting provider, you are sure that your website will load quickly and will not suffer long downtime.
You have the option of a shared or dedicated host. In addition to a shared host, your site is hosted on the same server as several other sites, which is cheaper but often gives you less control over your site as well as potentially less storage and bandwidth availability. In the meantime, a dedicated host is more expensive, but it gives your site an entire server solely for your use and gives you a wide range of control, storage, and bandwidth.
Once you’ve removed your domain and host, you can now install WordPress and there are two ways:
With one click, install, register your domain name, and get your WordPress site from the same service provider. WordPress recommends that your host support PHP 7, MySQL v5.6 + or MariaDB v10.0 + and HTTPS.
You can also use WordPress-trusted hosting providers that will simplify installation and ensure that your chosen host supports it. WordPress itself recommends Pressable, BlueHost, Dreamhost, Flywheel and SiteGround.
Using the option, you manually set up the server manually, then install the WordPress platform on the server and configure it. You will need to have an FTP client, set up a database via cPanel or phpMyAdmin, and access your web server. As such, this option is only recommended for advanced users. WordPress has extensive documentation that can guide you through the process.
Step 2: Choose an ecommerce plugin.
What will separate your WordPress eCommerce site from a standard WordPress website will be the means by which you sell products directly from your site. There are no native WordPress e-commerce features, so to add this functionality to your site, you’ll need to install an eCommerce plugin.
Once a mere eCommerce plugin, WooCommerce has now been rolled out to the entire platform with its own plugin system since Automattic bought it two years ago. It is a highly customizable platform that gives you full control over your online store. About 30% of all online stores use WooCommerce as their platform; some local stores that use it are Beauty Choice and Green Point Flowers.
WooCommerce contains a complete ecommerce utility that helps you build and organize product pages, and provides a shopping cart and purchase process.
It’s free to use, but you can extend its functionality even further with a variety of paid and free extensions. Extensions can do anything, from serving recommendations to AI customers on product landing pages, to providing scheduled group and daily deals that trigger when a predefined number of people buy an item.
Easy digital download
While most e-commerce plugins and platforms revolve around selling physical products, Easy Digital Downloads or EDD are specifically designed to help you sell digital products.
EDD allows you to create discount codes, set download limits, and provides full tracking and reporting of downloads, sales and other statistics. You can also add new features to your EDD store with extensions that allow you to sell software licenses and subscriptions, add payment processors like PayPal, and more.
EDD is free, with a variety of extras you can buy.
WP eCommerce is not as well equipped as WooCommerce, but it is another popular and robust choice for creating an online WordPress store.
It has all the basic features, including product pages, shopping cart and checkout functionality, and offers excellent data logging and inventory management capabilities. Like other add-ons, it is free, but offers optional paid and free extensions that can add functionality. It also comes in a paid gold basket package that adds more advanced tools, appearance and capabilities. You can also buy premium payment gateways like Stripe and Authorize.net.
Step 3: Install the ecommerce plugin.
After selecting an ecommerce plugin for your WordPress site, it’s time to install it through your WordPress backer. For convenience, the following steps assume that you have selected the WooCommerce platform:
- Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
- In the sidebar, go to the Extras section and click “Add New”.
- Type “WooCommerce” in the search bar and press Enter. Click “Install Now” on WooCommerce by WooThemes.
If you are still in the phase of looking for a hosting provider, you may want to check out Bluehost’s partnership with WooCommerce. Bluehost offers an all-in-one solution for setting up WordPress eCommerce, which includes a domain name, WordPress with WooCommerce pre-installed, and SSL certification to keep your online store secure.
Step 4: Set up product pages.
Now that you’ve set up your plugin, it’s time to start adding products and their product pages. Each plugin does it differently, so we’ll cover the steps for that in WooCommerce.
At the very least, every product you add must have the following features:
- Name of the product
- Short description
Start by entering your WordPress admin panel, then select “Products” in the sidebar and select “Add Product”. WooCommerce lets you add physical and virtual products to your store.
a) Adding physical products
You will be greeted by an interface very similar to a blog post on WordPress. Insert your product name where the post title would normally be and add a description that would include the content of the post. Then, in the right sidebar, add a product image to your product (analogous to the image presented), then optionally insert more images into the product gallery.
Then add more details about your product to the Product Details section. The first thing to pay attention to is the Product type drop-down box. The existing product types for physical products are the following:
- Easy: Simple product with no SKU capability
- Grouped: Multiple related products consisting of several related “baby” products, each of which is a simple product
- Variable: A product with different SKUs, for example, shirts or shoes with different size options
- Outside / Branch: Items sold outside your store
For now, let’s go with a simple product.
The “Virtual” and “Download” checkboxes will also appear next to the product type. Leave these unattended for physical products.
Let’s move on to the components on the left of the product information and what happens to them:
|Overview||Code||Use this to create IDs that can help you call in-store products. They
it must be unique.
|Price||It comes in regular and on sale. It’s regular
price normally sold; The sale is a discounted price that can be scheduled
at certain times.
|Inventory||Inventory management||Determines if WooCommerce
will perform inventory management for
you on this item
|Amount of shares||
How applicable, how many items are available for purchase
|Stock status||In stock / Out of stock|
|Allow orders?||It allows customers to buy items in stock and ship them as soon as they become available|
|Determines if only one instance of this product can be purchased to order|
|delivery||Weight||Item weight in kg|
|Dimensions||Length, width, height of objects|
|Different shipping costs for
|Advanced||Purchase Note||Sends a note to a customer who
buy the item
|Menu order||Overrides the order in which
your product is being displayed
|Enable reviews||Selectively enables or disables it
reviews for this product
In the Attributes section, you can assign specific details to each product. You can add as many attribute fields as you want. Just make sure the attribute is consistent across similar products being sold.
b) Adding virtual products
Virtual products are products that are not physically sold while downloadable from your store. Some products are virtual to download, such as eBooks.
Adding virtual products has the same process as physical products for the most part. But with virtual products, check the “Virtual” or “Downloadable” checkboxes next to the product type. When you select either option, you lose the Delivery tab in the product data. You should also go to the Inventory tab and uncheck “Inventory management?”
For downloadable products, the General tab offers additional options:
- Download files: Insert file links here for large or previously uploaded files. Alternatively, click “Select File” to upload the file.
- Download limit: The maximum number of downloads for this file
- Expiration Expiration: Customers can only download the file for a specified number of days.
Beyond these changes, the process remains the same for physical products.
After the product information section, you will find a brief description of the product. This will appear at the top of your product’s landing page. Your customers will see this short description before the full description you have already written.
Once you’ve done that, click “Update” and the product will be added.
WordPress eCommerce Transfer Tips
The following tips ensure that your products are attractive to customers and can be easily found either from your store or through a search engine.
a) Don’t forget your titles!
When you add a product to the store, your product should always be on the title bar. You should also use SEO tools like Yoast to determine the best possible title for your product based on SEO.
b) Create interesting product descriptions.
Do not copy descriptions from product manufacturers. Be unique and creative in your descriptions. Also, use very specific long tail keywords to ensure your product appears in search engine results. Lastly, be brief – limit descriptions to 150-250 words.
c) Observe the quality of your images.
Use a prominent square-shaped product image to comply with WooCommerce standards. Also, use large, high quality images to attract more customers.
b) Accordingly, categorize and label.
Put your products under categories and labels. The effect is twofold: it will be easier for buyers to view their time, and Google will treat them in a similar way to keywords.
Step 5: Payment
Just like the last step in the purchase process, both online and offline, the last step of any WordPress e-commerce setup is to pay. Your ecommerce site needs a way to get paid from customers.
Most online financial transactions take place through a payment gateway, and these are services that act as an intermediary between you and your customer.
Upon cancellation from your website, the user is directed to the payment gateway website where he enters financial information or logs into his account through a gateway. The money is safely exchanged from the customer at the payment gateway and then the payment gateway transfers the money to your merchant account. Some payment gateways also have payment accounts.
PayPal is one of the leading available gateway approaches, but it is not necessary for everyone. Fortunately, WooCommerce supports a wide variety of other gateways, and adding them is as easy as going to the Payment Gateways section of the WooCommerce Extensions Store, with which you can add access of your choice with a single click. Payment passes come in free and paid form.
To use most of the features of the payment gateway, you will need to have an SSL certificate. This ensures that all transactions, and therefore financial information exchanges, between you and your customer are safe from the prying eyes of hackers. Obtaining an SSL certificate can usually be accomplished with a fee from the hosting provider.
In Singapore, certain payment gateways are paid for by both customers and local e-commerce sites. Here are some of the best used:
2Checkout allows ecommerce merchants to easily accept payments from all over the world, whether it’s mobile or online. Ecommerce sites have the ability to use 2Checkout as a host solution, where customers are referred to the 2Checkout site to complete their payment. More advanced site owners may choose to integrate their store directly with the 2Checkout payment API.
One of Asia’s largest payment gateways, Asia Pay, is also among the top choices for payment processors in Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Fast and efficient, PayPal Express allows users to view and pay for their items in three clicks. Customers can easily store their financial information within PayPal, making the process quick and easy.
Avoid hidden costs and choose the right reimbursement for your store.
Considerations when choosing a payment gateway
Each payment gateway determines the percentage of the fee per transaction. Check the cost of service for each gateway you plan to use. Sometimes a higher fee is justified if the gateway has excellent service.
2. Ecommerce compatibility
Not all payment gateways support every ecommerce plugin. Make sure your payment gateway is selected in the list extension of your ecommerce add-on.
3. Enter financial information
Payment gateways offer two options for receiving financial information from customers. One is the host page, which redirects customers to the gateway site for post-checkout payment, where they enter their information. This is the safest method, but it’s also a little clumsy and probably won’t fit the visual theme of your store.
Another way is integration, where customers enter their financial information in a series of fields directly on your website, which will then be sent to your payment gateway. This method is much simpler and more practical, but less safe.
4. Mobile compatibility
More and more online transactions are taking place through mobile devices. Customers need to be able to buy and pay for items from your store, even if they use their smartphones. Choose a payment gateway that not only supports mobile transactions, but also has an optimized mobile experience with a good user interface.
5. Security and support
There are several things as important as your customers’ data security. To ensure this, make sure your payment gateway has encryption, support for SSL certificates, and anything else related to data protection.
You should also be able to address payment, refund, and other transaction concerns. Your payment processor of choice should have effective and timely support that effectively meets your needs.
For more information on setting up a payment gateway through WooCommerce, see this detailed guide.
This article is an e-commerce guide in WordPress that guides you through each step of building your own online store on one of the largest platforms on the Internet. You learned how to choose your hosting provider, decide which plugin to use, install your plugin of your choice, add your first product, and set up a payment gateway for your site.
At the end of this article, you should have a fully functional, though barebones, eCommerce site that you can continue to expand and enhance as needed.
If you need more information on eCommerce web site design from experienced professionals or want to quickly transition your site development to an effective consultation, head over to Construct Digital, where we provide eCommerce web site design and development services, reinforced by years of experience in the field.
Looking for more ecommerce articles? Check out our comprehensive Ecommerce Resource Page.
Image sources and credits:
Body Images: WDNetStudio @ Pixabay; Vimeopro; kinkate @ Pixabay; Unsplash @ Pixabay; Firmbee @ Pixabay
Images of online stores courtesy of their web site