Woocommerce: The Complete Guide

Woocommerce The Complete Guide

The ecommerce platform you choose can either make or break your business. It’s hard to back out from a decision if it turns out you made the wrong choice. If you’re planning to dip your feet into the world of ecommerce, then perhaps you should consider going with WooCommerce, the world’s most popular ecommerce platforms out there.

WooCommerce works on WordPress, and it’s not only cost-effective and flexible but also one of the easiest ecommerce platforms to manage, even for absolute beginners.

What’s WooCommerce?

Wondering what WooCommerce is and whether it’s the ecommerce platform to build your online store with?

We’ll try to answer this question before diving into the details:

WooCommerce is an ecommerce platform that lets you build your ecommerce store on WordPress.

Think of WordPress as your site’s operating system, and WooCommerce as one of the software you install on your PC to get something done. That’s how the two operate or tie in together.

WordPress is the most popular content management system and one of the easiest ways to create a website.

WooCommerce is designed to take the basic WordPress operating system and convert it into a fully functioning e-commerce store.

More than that, some of the most successful ecommerce store you know are built using WooCommerce. As a matter of fact, it powers about 25% of the millions of ecommerce stores filling up the web.

The Market Share of Some of the Leading Ecommerce Platforms (in 2020)

Ecommerce Platform

% Market Share

WooCommerce

28.24%

Squarespace

17.69%

Shopify

10.98%

Monster Commerce

5.99%

WixStores

4.6%

Magento

3.44%

100 Sklepow

3.37%

SAP Commerce

1.6%

OpenCart

1.6%

Why is WooCommerce so Popular?

Here are a few reasons WooCommerce is so popular among store owners:

It’s free

You don’t pay to use WooCommerce. It’s free, just like the CMS program it’s built on. Apart from paying for hosting, your domain name, and theme (or web designer if you opted for a customised theme), there’s no any other cost to incur unless you opt for a premium plugin.

It’s Open Source

WooCommerce is open for modification, editing, and further improvement from anyone. You’re free to play around with this ecommerce platform and modify it any way you want.

Regular Person-friendly

You don’t have to be experienced in anything to launch or be a tech expert or good with codes to launch a fully functional ecommerce store on WooCommerce.

It’s Extensible

With WooCommerce, you can add just about any functionality using a plugin. The best part is that you don’t necessarily need to be a technical expert to pull this off.

WooCommerce Work on Any Device Out There

WooCommerce websites are super-responsive and can load just fine on any device. Remember: many of your customers will be shopping using their smartphones – and it’s your job to make sure they’ve the best shopping experience regardless of what device they’re using to access your store.

Your Store Will Look Exactly How You Want it to

With WooCommerce, your imagination is your limit. If you can think it, then you probably can create it. No technical knowledge is required. They have themes and plugins that give you total control over how your store looks and operates.

It’s Completely Secure

WooCommerce isn’t just an open-source platform. It’s supported by a multibillion company that’s always working around the clock to secure your store.

10 Examples of WooCommerce Stores

Here’s a list of WooCommerce stores that you might want to check out, for a feel of how your ecommerce store will look like.

Blue Star Coffee Roasters

Blue Star is a WooCommerce store dedicated to selling coffee and all of its accessories to consumers.

Porter and York

Porter and York is an online store for selling meat.

Barefoot Buttons

Barefoot Button is another ecommerce store built with WooCommerce. They only sell guitar pedals.

Underwear Expert

Underwear Expert is exactly as the name says… they sell underwear.

The Good Batch

The Google batch is an ecommerce store based in Brooklyn, New York. They sell cookies, ice cream, and cakes.

Untold Wish

Untold Wish is a well-known ecommerce store for selling gift cards and wraps.

Root Science

Root Science specialises in selling skincare products.

Marchue du Pre

Marchue du Pre is a Dutch ecommerce store dedicated to selling vintage cookware.

Sodashi

Sodashi is an Australian-based ecommerce store that only sells premium skincare products.

Henry J Sock

Henry J Sock is a UK-based ecommerce store that only sells socks.

A Brief Overview of WooCommerce

WooCommerce was first introduced in 2008, as one of the products of Woo Themes.

Initially, it was nothing more than a fork of Jigoshop, but which will eventually form the cornerstone of their core business.

However, Autommatic (the company behind WP) would go on to acquire WooThemes, and converting it into one of their subsidiary companies. Since then, Automattic has been actively developing and maintaining the platform itself.

What Type of Ecommerce Store Works with WooCommerce?

WooCommerce can be used to create all types of ecommerce stores: small, medium, and enterprise-level stores.

It’s recommended because it offers an array of extensions and options, which works for both small and large scale selling of products. 

In addition to all that, the plugin can also be used to sell digital items. You can use it to sell music or any other form of downloadable item. It also has an option for selling your services, subscriptions, and just about any other thing you think you can sell.

WooCommerce Vs. Shopify

Perhaps the biggest competitor, WooCommerce has is Shopify. These two platforms stand head and tail over any other ecommerce platform.

So, given an option to choose between the two, which one should it be?

  • Both platforms offer outstanding ecommerce solutions, laced with so many similar functionalities and features.
  • Your choice will most likely be influenced by the pricing models between the two.
  • Shopify is recommended if you’re new and are looking for an easy or turnkey solution.
  • WooCommerce stands out because it gives you total control of your ecommerce store. You also get to benefit from the fact that your website will be running on WordPress.
  • WooCommerce is free. But you have to incur the cost of purchasing hosting and domain name.

Shopify is a bit costly, with its price ranging from $16 to $47 per month.

7 Advantages of Using WooCommerce

Overall, WooCommerce makes a better choice, and here’re are the reasons in support of this:

  • WooCommerce gives you full control of your online store. You’re the person in charge of everything.
  • With WooCommerce, you have thousands of themes and plugins to choose from.
  • WooCommerce makes a great choice if you have the technical capacity to get it up and running.
  • WooCommerce makes a great choice of an ecommerce platform for DIY enthusiasts.
  • Flexible enough to accommodate a smaller budget. With Shopify, you should at least be prepared to spend about $144 per year.
  • If you already own a WordPress site and would like to add an online store in one of its pages
  • No additional cost. No recurrent payment for using the tool.

The Cons of Using WooCommerce

  • No 24/7 support like the one on Shopify

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Setup an Online Store with WooCommerce

You need the following list of things to set up an ecommerce store with WooCommerce:

  • A Hosting Account: This is where all your web files will be stored
  • Domain Name: This is like your online address or the URL that people will be using to find you.
  • SSL certificate: for a secure connection, and so your website can start connecting via a secured https and not an insecure http.
  • All the tools we’ll mention in this setup guide.

Step 1: Buy a Domain Name and Web Hosting

At this point, we’d like to assume that you already have a name for your online store. With a TLD, this name will also double as your domain name.

Think of a domain name as your online address. It is what users type into their web browsers to find you. A domain name also reinforces your brand. So, choose wisely.

There are so many domain name registrars to choose from in Singapore. But here’s a list of accredited domain name registrars you might want to check out.

You also need a reliable web host for your website. A web host is where you store all your web files. When someone accesses your site, their web browser will have to communicate with the web host server and request it to deliver the content that the user wants.

Remember that not all web hosts are created the same. You have to take your time to evaluate the key features of each web hosting options (speed, security, support, reliability, and so on) and only choose the best.

After you purchase the two, the next thing you want to do is connect your domain name to your web host. You can ask your web host to show you how to do it in case you’re stuck.

A simple trick to avoid going through all this hassle is to consider getting your domain name and hosting from the same place, rather than buying them separately.

Step 2: Install WordPress

Since WooCommerce is designed to run on WordPress as one of the plugins, you have to begin by installing WordPress. How you install WordPress will depend on the web host you chose.

Luckily for you, many of these web hosting companies offer one-click installation. All you have to do is log into their Cpanel, and then scroll down until you see WordPress. Click on it and then enter all the requested details before clicking on Install.

The CMS should automatically instal.

We recommend you use a web host that’s trusted by WordPress. These will make the installation process easier for you.

Among the web host recommended by WordPress itself there’s Dreamhost, BlueHost, SiteGround, Flywheel, and Pressable.

Manual Installation

For web hosts that don’t offer a one-click WordPress installation, the only option left would be to install it manually.

Everything has to be set up manually.

But first, you need an FTP client and a database setup through phpMyAdmin or cPanel. You also need your server’s access.

Remember that this option is recommended to advanced WordPress users. Otherwise, you’re better off with the one-click installation. 

Step 3: Select a WooCommerce Plugin

After you’ve successfully installed WordPress, you can proceed to install the WooCommerce plugin.

Note that WooCommerce isn’t your ordinary plugin but a fully-fledged ecommerce platform. It’s highly customisable and advanced enough to give you full control of your online store. So, don’t underestimate it.

Arriving with it is a complete backend that you can use to build your online store and organise everything, including product pages. It also comes with a checkout process, shopping cart, and almost any other ecommerce feature you can think of.

WooCommerce is completely free. It also comes with thousands of free and paid extensions that you can use to extend its functionalities.

There’s an extension for almost anything you’ll ever think of doing to your ecommerce store. From serving AI-driven recommendations to your customers, to serving scheduled daily deals to segmented groups of customers, you can bet there’s a plugin that’s been specifically designed to do that.

Easy Digital Downloads

While a majority of WooCoomerce plugins revolve around physical products, Easy Digital Downloads is all about selling digital products online, as the name suggests.

It’s a feature-rich plugin that allows you to place restrictions on your downloads and create discounts. It also provides full-tracking and data reporting of your sales, downloads, and other vital statistics.

Even better, they have extensions that you can use to add more features to your EDD store. There’s an extension for selling software licenses, creating subscriptions, and even integrating your store with payment gateways such as PayPal, Skrill, Stripe, and more.

EDD is also free. It also comes with both free and paid extensions that you can use to expand your site’s functionalities.

WP Ecommerce

WP Ecommerce isn’t exactly a WooCommerce feature, but more like its alternative. It’s another popular and reliable choice for creating an ecommerce store on WordPress.

It comes with all the basic features for setting up an ecommerce store on WordPress, including product pages, checkout functionality, and shopping cart. It also has an inventory management system, as well as excellent data reporting capabilities.

It’s also free, with optional free and paid extensions that you can use to add more functionality to your store. Its Gold Cart package comes with more advanced features, tools, and layouts.

However, you have to purchase premium payment gateways such as Authorise.net and Stripe.

Step 4: Installing WooCommerce

The installation process for WooCommerce is the same as installing any other plugin on the platform. First, you have to access the WordPress backend or dashboard. You can do this by adding “wp/admin” at the end of your domain name.

So, if your domain name is abcdef.com, it becomes abcdef.com/wp-admin.

Enter your username and passwords, and you’ll be directed to your WordPress dashboard.

Next, click on “plugin” > “Add New.”

In the search bar, type “WooCommerce.” Now hit enter, and then go to “WooCommerce by Autommatic” and click “Install Now.”

Click on “Activate” after that.

At this point, your plugin is fully installed and ready to go. You’ll be directed to the Setup Wizard, where you’re to configure some basic features of the plugin.

Alternatively, you can access the Wizard from WooCommerce ~> Help ~> Setup Wizard.

Step 5: Set Up Your WooCommerce Account

Here’s a simple, step by step tutorial on how to set up your WooCommerce website.

  1. Set up the Store Details: In the first page that pops up, you’ll be asked to set up your store details. Here, you’re to enter your address, country, city, and zip code.
  2. Your Industry Details: The next page is your industry details. You’re to check the right box from the list provided. You’re also to provide a short description of what it is that you plan to sell.
  3. Product Types: What type of product are you planning to sell: physical products, subscriptions, downloads, bookings, composite products, or memberships? Again, you’re to check on the right box.
  4. Business Details: This is where you narrow down to the specifics of your business. How many products will you be displaying, and do you sell them somewhere else?
  5. Choose a Theme: This is where you choose a theme. You can choose a free theme or from one of their premium themes. If you’re still not decided on what theme to use, then just choose a random one. You can always come back and change it later
  6. Enhance the Store with Jetpack: Jetpack is an essential feature for WordPress. It’s what you use to enable payment gateways and sales taxes. It also comes with other extra benefits, including better security, store monitoring, improved speed, product promotion, and the ability to use your phone to manage your store.

It’s a feature you wouldn’t want to miss. So, click Yes Please!

  1. Create a Jetpack Account: This is where you create your Jetpack account. You’ll be prompted for an email address, as well as username and password. Alternatively, you can use the one-click registration process that lets you sign up through your Facebook or Google account.

Creating a new Jetpack account will direct you to Jetpack’s interface while signing in will direct you to the final stage of setting up your account.

  1. WooCommerce Dashboard: After you finish setting up your Jetpack account, you’ll be directed to the WooCommerce dashboard. Here, you should be able to see Finish Setup, Inbox, Stats Overview, and more.
  2. Finish Setup: In the Finish setup section, you’re to click and finish up the setup process for the following: Personalise My Store, Add My Products, set up payment, set up tax, and set up shipping.
  • Add My Products: You can add your first product by selecting “Add My Products.” You have three ways in which you can add your products.
  • Add them manually
  • Importing them through CSV files
  • Migrating them from another site
  • Personalise Your Store: This selection allows you to customise your homepage. You can add your logo and even change the settings on your store notice.
  • Set up Shipping: This is where you specify how much your customers should pay to ship your products to their place of residence or anywhere else in the world.
  • Set up Tax: You can set up your tax manually or by connecting the store to WordPress to automate the calculations.
  • Set up Payment: Which payment method do you prefer to use? You have the option to choose between PayPal, Cash on Delivery, Direct Bank Transfers, or Credit Cards.

Step 6: Add New Products

There’s nothing complicated about adding a new product to WooCommerce. If you’ve ever published a new post online, the process is pretty much the same.

Here’s are the step to follow when adding a new product to your WooCommerce site:

  • On your WordPress dashboard, just under WooCommerce, click on Products ~> Add New.
  • Now go ahead and type in the name of your product. Remember to also write a brief description of the product. Be sure to provide all the relevant information you suspect your customers might be interested in.
  • Scroll down until you get to the product data section, where you’re to specify the product type. Remember to set additional information, including price, inventory, stock, shipping, products, and so on.

For non-physical products that need no shipping, you have to check on the Virtual box provided. Remember to also check on Downloadable if you’re planning to sell software, files, music, or any other downloadable item.

  • Now you want to price the product and add a short description. The description will be displayed just below the product’s name.
  • Next, you can go ahead and add the product category. The option can be found on the right-hand side of the dashboard. You can either add it to a new category or place it under a previous category.
  • Set up your product tags. Some people ignore them, a grave mistake if you ask. Product tags label your products, thus making them easier to find.
  • The product Gallery section allows you to add more product images.
  • You can go ahead and confirm everything. If there’s nothing wrong with the setting you’ve so far made, preview it or save the change in the draft before publishing.

Note that you’re also allowed to change your product visibility. The default setting is public. But feel free to change it to private or password protected if it suits you.

You also have to set your Catalogue Visibility. Here are the options it offers:

  • Shop & Search Results: This option allows your products to be visible anywhere: shop pages, search results, and category.
  • Search Result Only or Shop Only: Your product will only show up in one of the places: shop only, search results, or category pages only.
  • Hidden: Your product will only show on the product page, not anywhere else.

The Basics of WooCommerce

You have to understand a few WooCommerce basics to avoid making some common mistakes people make all the time.

You have to understand the difference between attributes, types, and categories:

Product Category: Don’t just randomly come up with a product category. Instead, list down all your products and group them accordingly. For example, if you’re planning to sell clothes, then your categories can include apparel, bottom wear, top wear, or nightwear.

That way, shoppers can locate your products based on categories. Keep in mind that you’re allowed to create as many categories as you want. There’s no limit or anything to restrict you.

Attributes: Attributes are like your product filters. They’re to help your customers narrow down to a particular selection. For clothes, attributes can include things like colour, fabric, or size.

They’re all about helping customers choose the desired product. You have the option to assign attributes to your products individually or by setting up global attributes for your entire site.

Product Types: WooCommerce has a predefined list of product types that you’ll be required to choose from. They include:

  • Simple: a standalone product with no option. The product has no variety and is to be shipped as it is — an example is one physical book.
  • Grouped: These items are to be shipped in a group, like a dozen physical books or glasses.
  • Virtual: any item that requires no shipping. It includes services or downloadable items.
  • Downloadable: Any digital product that the customer would want to download after making payments. It includes things like music, images, songs, videos, etc.
  • External: An external product will only be advertised on your store, but sold on a different platform. There has to be a link directing the customer on where to buy.
  • Variables: These products have so many variable qualities, like colour, size, etc. Examples include clothes and shoes.

10 Must-Have WooCommerce Plugins for Your Store

Yith WooCommerce Wishlist

Yith WooCommerce is a pretty useful plugin for your ecommerce store. Not every potential customer who lands on your site will be in a position to buy. But with Yith WooCommerce Wishlist plugin installed, these customers can save the product to buy later and even share it with their friends and families.

AliDropship Plugin

If you’ve ever thought about venturing into the world of drop shipping, then this is the plugin for you. Ever thought about running an ecommerce store without owning any of the products? Well, here’s a plugin that can still help you to list these products on your ecommerce store, as you dropship from ecommerce stores such as Alibaba and AliExpress.

WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration

You don’t need to be reminded about how important it is for you to track the people that visit your store. WooCommerce Google Analytics is a plugin that lets you monitor the metrics you need to track your site’s performance. You can use it to track your site’s visitors and even use some of the results you get to increase your sales.

The plugin also comes with a referral link program that you can add to your site.

Booster for WooCommerce

Booster is like Jetpack, but for WooCommerce. The only difference is that its functionality is not restricted to just one thing.

Instead, it operates as a modular set of more than 100 features that you can use to tweak your store and improve different aspects of it.

It’s a modular set because you’re the one to decide which features to enable. This should save you from bloating your site with features that you don’t need.

Here’s an essential break down of the features included:

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  • Price and Currency: You can add currencies, bulk convert prices, currency exchange rates, and even set prices based on the role of the user.
  • Button and Price Labels: An option for tweaking the add-to-cart button. You can even customise the label for free items and so forth.
  • Products: Allows you to add product bookings, set up cross-sells, and even enable crowdfunding, among others.
  • Cart and Checkout: With this, you can customise your checkout fields, create custom coupons, and so on.
  • And more

WooCommerce Direct Checkout

Making your visitor jump through so many hoops will make some of them abandon ship.

That’s the case with the default checkout process for WooCommerce. It’s flabby, and enough to make some customers lose patience.

Storefront ~> Product Page ~> Shopping Cart ~> Checkout

However, with this plugin, you can completely skip the cart process. So, the customer moves from Storefront ~> Product Page ~> Checkout (no cart process).

Checkout Field Editor

There are plugins to help you improve the default checkout process that comes with WooCommerce. However, this plugin goes a step further by giving you total control over the checkout function itself.

It allows you to customise every field on your checkout screen.

WooCommerce Currency Switcher

WooCommerce Currency Switcher is the plugin you use to switch to a different currency and convert your prices in real-time. The plugin has more than 30 000 active installations.

It displays product prices and even allows you to display prices in different currencies so your customers can purchase it in their preferred currency.

WooCommerce PDF and Print

With this plugin, you can integrate Doc, PDF, and print buttons with your WooCommerce product pages. It also allows you to print and save your product information as doc or PDF files.

Genesis Connect for WooCommerce

This plugin is designed to preserve your customisation settings, in case you decide to update your module. That way, you can be sure none of the settings will be lost after the update.

WooCommerce Gift Wrap

This plugin adds an optional Gift Wrap functionality to your product pages. It comes with a list of simple gift wrap fields, including gift wraps message, enable gift wrapping, and default gift-wrapping.

This plugin saves you from overriding these costs.

The Final Words

We tried to walk you through the simplified process of setting up a fully-functional WooCommerce website. To this end, you should at least have a barebone ecommerce site that you can expand or continue to improve.

For more information on ecommerce or how to set up your website on any ecommerce platform out there, you’re more than welcome to talk to our team of ecommerce developers.

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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September 07, 2020

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