The three things you need to start an online store are:
You can setup your own online store with WordPress in less than 30 minutes and we’ll walk you through each step of the process.
There are two popular eCommerce platforms that we recommend: Shopify or WordPress + WooCommerce.
Shopify is a fully hosted eCommerce solution that starts at $29 / month (paid monthly or yearly upfront to earn a discount). It’s a hassle-free solution where you just log in and start selling. The downside to Shopify is that it gets quite expensive, and your payment options are limited unless you pay additional fees.
This is why most users choose WordPress + WooCommerce because of the flexibility it offers. It does require some setup, but it’s worth doing it in the long run. WordPress is the most popular website builder and WooCommerce is the world’s largest eCommerce platform.
In this tutorial, we will walk you through how to set up an online store in WordPress using WooCommerce.
To set up your eCommerce store, you need to a domain name, web hosting, and an SSL certificate.
A domain name is your website’s address on the internet. It is what users will type in their browsers to reach your website (for example: google.com or wpbeginner.com).
Web hosting is where your eCommerce website lives on the internet. It’s your website’s house on the internet. Every website on the internet needs web hosting.
The next step is to set up WordPress and your online store.
Upon your first login to your WordPress website, Bluehost may offer you help with setting up your website.
Go ahead and click on ‘I don’t need help’ link. Don’t worry we will walk you through all the necessary steps.
Let’s set up your WordPress website.
First, you need to visit Settings » General page to setup your WordPress site title and description.
You can use your store name as site title and provide a catchy description for your business. The description part is optional so don’t worry if you can’t come with something right away.
Setting up HTTPS to Use SSL
Your WordPress hosting package came with a free SSL Certificate. This certificate is pre-installed for your domain name. However, your WordPress site needs to be configured, so it loads as https vs http.
On the Settings » General page, you need to change your WordPress Address and Site Address to use https instead of http.
Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.
Your basic WordPress setup is complete. Now it is time to setup your online store.
WooCommerce is the best online store builder on the market. It is built on top of WordPress which gives the flexibility of WordPress with freedom to sell any type of products you want.
First, you need to install and activate the WooCommerce plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.
Simply go to Plugins » Add New page and search for WooCommerce. In the search results, click on the Install Now button
WordPress will now fetch and install WooCommerce plugin for you. Wait for it and to finish downloading the plugin and then click on the ‘Activate’ button to continue.
Upon activation, WooCommerce will launch the set up wizard and you’ll see the Welcome to WooCommerce screen. This set up wizard will walk you through important WooCommerce settings.
First, you need to provide basic information for your online store such as address, country, and region. If you are a retailer, then you can add your retail location information as the address.
After that, click on the Continue button to move on to the next step.
Next, you’ll be asked to choose a store industry. You can choose an industry closest to the type of store you want to make.
Click on the continue button to move on.
After that, you’ll be asked to choose the types of products you’ll be selling on your store. For instance, if your products need shipping, then you can choose physical products.
You can also choose multiple product types. For example, you can choose both Physical Products and Downloads too. Don’t worry about selling different product types. You can select which type of product you are adding for each product.
Click on the Continue button.
Next, you’ll be asked to provide some business details like how many products you plan to sell and if you are selling elsewhere. You can choose that I don’t have products yet and select ‘No’ for the other option.
Now, you need to switch to the ‘Free Features’ tab. You’ll see a box pre-checked to install free features for your website.
You need to uncheck this option as it will install several other WooCommerce extensions that you may not need. If you need them later, then you can always install them on your own.
Click on the Continue button for the next step.
Next, you’ll be asked to choose a theme for your online store. You can continue with your current default theme, choose Storefront or any of the free options listed on the page.
That’s all, you have successfully completed basic WooCommerce setup.
Next, you need to set up payment methods to accept online payments on your store. WooCommerce provides a bunch of payment gateways that you can easily setup.
Simply go to the WooCommerce » Settings page and switch to the ‘Payments’ tab. By default, you can choose from PayPal Standard, Cash on Delivery, Checks, and Bank Transfers.
Scroll below and you will also see the option to install Stripe, PayPal Checkout, and WooCommerce Payments. We recommend choosing Stripe and PayPal Standard as your payment options.
For each payment gateway, you can click on the Set up button and provide the required information. For instance, you can enable Stripe and enter your API Keys (you can find this information under your Stripe account).
Don’t forget to click on the Save changes button to store your payment settings.
Let’s start with adding the first product to your online store.
You need to visit Products » Add New page to add a new product.
First, provide a title for your product and then some detailed description.
On the right hand column, you will see the ‘Product Categories’ box. Click on the ‘+Add New Product Category’ to create a category for this product. This allows you and your customers to sort and browse products easily.
Scroll down a little and you will notice the Product Data box. This is where you will provide product related information like pricing, inventory, shipping etc.
Below product data box, you will see a box to add product short description. These product descriptions will be used when users are viewing multiple products on a page
Lastly, on your right hand column you will see boxes to add a main product image and a product gallery.
Once you are satisfied with all the product information you have added, you can click on the Publish button to make it live on your website.
Repeat the process to add more products as needed.
Themes control how your WordPress sites look to the users when they visit it. For a WooCommerce shop, they also control how your products are displayed.
There are thousands of paid and free WordPress themes available that help you create a stunning online presence.
However, not all WordPress themes are designed specifically for eCommerce stores. We have hand-picked some of the best WooCommerce themes that you can choose from.
If you need help selecting a theme, then please refer to our guide on 9 things you should consider when selecting a perfect WordPress theme.
Once you have installed a WooCommerce theme you can customize its appearance to your own requirements.
Simply head over to Appearance » Customize page. This will launch theme customizer where you can change different theme settings.
Most modern WooCommerce themes come with different customization options and work well with desktop as well as mobile devices.
Now that your store is almost ready, you may want to add more features to create a successful online store. For example, you can add a customer support form or promote your new business on social media to make your first sale.
This is where plugins come in.
Both WooCommerce and WordPress allow you to easily add new features to your website by using plugins or extensions.
Plugins are like apps for your WordPress website. There are thousands of them that you can use, both free and premium. The WordPress.org plugin directory alone has more than 59,000 plugins.
However, this abundance of choice also makes it difficult for beginners to choose the right plugins. How do you know which plugin to choose?
Here are some of our top picks for essential plugins that every online store should install.
OptinMonster helps you easily convert website visitors into paying customers. It comes with tools like lightbox popups, sticky header and footer banners, countdown timers, spin to win, and more.
All of them help to improve conversions, boost sales, grow your email list, and reduce shopping cart abandonment.
Note: You can get a free version of OptinMonster if you sign up from inside the OptinMonster WordPress plugin.
WPForms is the best form builder plugin for WordPress. It allows you to easily create any type of form for your store including contact forms, surveys, login forms, gift cards order form, and more.
It has an intuitive drag and drop form builder that allows you to just point and click to create forms. See our guide on how to easily create a contact form in WordPress for detailed instructions.
Note: WPForms also has a free version called WPForms Lite that you can use if you don’t need the Pro features.
AffiliateWP helps you easily add an affiliate program to your online store. This allows you to partner up with affiliate marketers to promote your products for a commission.
It comes with powerful affiliate tracking, no transaction fees, fraud detection, 1-click payouts, and an affiliate dashboard for your partners. For more details, see our guide on how to create a referral program for your online store.
All in One SEO for WordPress is the best SEO plugin for WooCommerce. It allows you to easily optimize your online store for SEO without any search engine optimization skills.
It comes with a full eCommerce support, schema markup, sitemaps, breadcrumbs, and more. This helps you bring more traffic to your online store. For details, see our complete WooCommerce SEO guide for beginners.
Note: There is also a free version of AIOSEO which is still pretty powerful for those who’re just starting out.
MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. It helps you see where your customers are coming from and what they do on your website.
MonsterInsights comes with WooCommerce tracking so you can see the conversions and sales data on your website. This helps you adjust your marketing strategy and grow your small business with data driven decisions.
HubSpot is the best CRM plugin for WordPress and WooCommerce. It allows you to automatically sync your forms, manage contacts, segment them into lists, and see every interaction your visitors have with your site. It also has free email marketing feature built-in.
They also let you add live chat to your website pages and get analytics on the performance of your entire marketing program.
There are many other plugings that add more functionality to your online store.
We hope that this tutorial helped you learn how to build an online store.
I hope this article helped you learn more. You may also want to see of Beginner guid on internet marketing, and how to publish a website
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