So, you’ve decided to go for broke. You’re fed up with being a slave to the nine-five and you’re ready to branch out on your own with an online store. Or maybe you’re quite happy where you are, but that eCommerce idea you’ve been floating around is just too good not to pursue, even if it is only as a side project to your main day job.
Either way, you’ve likely got a lot of things in place already. You’ve invested in a top shared hosting package, you’ve got the majority of your website built and ready to go using the WordPress Content Management System, and all you need now is a way to add products and manage the actual store itself.
If you’re anything like most people, you’ve probably at least looked at WooCommerce. Arguably the most popular -and easy to use- eCommerce plugin available for WordPress, WooCommerce has earned rave reviews among web experts and users alike thanks to its simplicity, flexibility and functionality, so it’s no wonder that it’s currently a strong contender for your site.
There’s just one problem, you’re not entirely sure where to start.
Worry not dear readers, in the following brief guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about getting started with the WooCommerce eCommerce plugin for WordPress.
Integrating WooCommerce into your site
Here’s probably the easiest thing you’ll ever have to do with WooCommerce. Getting it set up on your new website is an absolute doddle, and involves nothing more than downloading the free plugin from the WooThemes website, installing it on the plugins page of your WordPress dashboard, and activating the plugin.
From there, you’ll find two tabs now feature in your dashboard menu – WooCommerce and Products. The former is where you’ll find most of the back-end features such as payment methods (more of which later), report generation and system status, whilst the latter is -as you may have gathered- for adding and managing products on your customer-facing site.
Setting your payment methods
Up next, one of the first things you’ll want to do with your new WooCommerce setup is to enable it to accept payments from your customers.
By default, the plugin only uses a few simple methods, only one of which will actually be all that useful to you; PayPal integration. Add the email address associated with your PayPal account, and your customers can pay you directly into the account.
The other options are to pay by cheque (does anybody do that any more?) and to give your customers the option to send you a direct bank transfer, which is far more trickier than simply accepting card payments directly through your website.
To accept those payments through your site, you’re going to need something called a payment gateway, which will securely process card details and transfer the money from a sale into your account. There’s a wealth of both free and premium payment gateways available which support WooCommerce integration, though it’s rare that you’ll find one which doesn’t charge you at least a small percentage of each sale you make.
Adding products and categories
Second only to installing the plugin itself in terms of simplicity, adding products and categories to your website is a complete breeze. Using the WordPress page editor that you’ll already be familiar with from adding pages and blog posts to your site, creating a product is no more difficult than entering some basic information, adding your images and sales copy, and adding categories.
When it comes to adding the shop to your main menu, you do that just as you would with any other page on your website, through Appearance – Menus.
When we say there’s nothing more to it than that, we’re not exactly telling the truth. The platform does come with a range of both free and paid-for extensions allowing you to do even more with WooCommerce, but that’s the basics covered right there. For a simple online store, you need never do anything more than the key elements we’ve just covered above, which means that for now, all that’s left for us to do is to wish you every success with your new online store!