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How to set up an online shop with WooCommerce

Sam Hollis is a web designer, dad and serial networker

‘I’m always happy to chat and advice is always free’

First things first: WooCommerce is a handy tool that lets you sell things on your WordPress site easily.

It’s one of the many ecommerce tools that have popped up in the last few years to help people sell online. However, it stands out for several reasons, especially where my customers and blog-readers are concerned.

  1. It works with WordPress, which many of my customers and millions of others around the world use.
  2. Unlike many ecommerce tools, it’s free – at least for the basic version.
  3. It’s relatively straightforward to install, customise and use.

It’s also open source, so anyone can edit any part of it. Thar means there are loads of different add-ons and customisations to make your online shop truly yours and to ensure it works the way you want.

These are some of the main reasons I use it to create and manage online shops for many of my customers. If you want me to set up and support an online shop for you with WooCommerce, I can do that, but I’m also here to help you if you decide to go it alone, so here is a bit of a guide to using the platform.

 

Who can benefit from using WooCommerce?

 

If you have products that you can post, or deliver directly to your customers, you can probably benefit from WooCommerce. That means you if you run a:

    • Delivery service
    • High street shop
    • One-person selling gig
    • Retail business
    • Any other company that sells deliverable products.

If you already have a WordPress site, great, WooCommerce can be used to turn it into a shop relatively easily. That means you won’t have to rip your site apart and put it together again.

If you don’t have a site, you can build one with WooCommerce on WordPress from the word go and jump straight into the world of ecommerce.

If you have a non-WordPress site, it’s possible to build a separate WooCommerce site and link it seamlessly to your existing site. The platform is so customisable, you can make it look and feel practically the same.

 

How to install WooCommerce

 

  1. WooCommerce works on WordPress, so the first step is to ensure that you have a WordPress account set up. You can learn more about the basics of WordPress by watching my video blog on the subject.
  2. WooCommerce can be installed like any WordPress Plugin:
    1. Select ‘Plugins’ from the bar on the right of your WordPress dashboard
    2. Click ‘Add new’
    3. Search for WooCommerce.
    4. Click ‘Install Now’.
    5. When it’s installed, click ‘Activate Now’ to go to the WooCommerce setup wizard
  3. This wizard will ask you a series of questions about you and your business to help customise your store to you and your needs. Then you will be able to choose a theme and any add-ons you like.

 

WooCommerce's setup checklist

How to create your WooCommerce shop

  1. Next comes the store setup checklist – pictured on the left – which lists the main things you have to do to launch your store. A click shows you how to perform each action.
  2. When all that is complete, you can start adding your products. Adding them manually is recommended. Importing or migrating products across to your store is quick if you have them already set up, but it requires other resources and specific formatting.
  3. Next, you can personalise your store with a logo and custom homepage as you like.
  4. Finally, you need to set up shipping, tax and payments – You can use Strip, Paypal, Klarna or WooCommerce’s own payment processing system. The platform will take you through these processes in a fairly straightforward manner.

 

How to run a shop on WooCommerce

WooCommerce's store management menu

WooCommerce makes running your online shop relatively easy. I say relatively because, like all things in business, it can be really simple in some cases and much less so in others. This depends on the number of items you’re selling, what you’re selling, where you’re operating, where you’re delivering to and more. Fortunately, WooCommerce has a way to manage all of these different issues, no matter how simple or complex they are.

Even better, most of the tools you need can be accessed from a fairly self-explanatory store management widget, pictured on the left. You should be able to see this when you have finished the install process and whenever you click on the WooCommerce plugin from your WordPress dashboard.

 

Managing orders and other day-to-day things in WooCommerce

As soon as you have set up your shop and decided to open it, you can start getting orders. These will be sorted automatically be WooCommerce and will be listed under WooCommerce > Orders in your WordPress dashboard. For each, you will be able to see:

  • An order ID made of a number and the customer’s name
  • The order date
  • The status, which is important to monitor so you know when to do things like processing and posting the product.
  • Billing address
  • Payment method
  • Total paid

You can click on the eye to view an individual order in more detail with more information.

There is also an action column containing buttons you can press to set the order to ‘processing’, and ‘completed’. These appear when payment is confirmed and should be used to let the customer know when you are preparing the order and when it has been sent for delivery.

I’m sure all my readers understand the importance of rapid processing and delivery after an order is placed, but I’m going to emphasise it again here just because it is so very essential.

 

WooCommerce products can now be found on Google!

I’m not here simply to advertise WooCommerce. There are other great ecommerce tools, each with their own benefits and reasons for use. I’m just creating this blog because WooCommerce is the tool that I use and recommend most to my customers. I do that because it is simple, effective and targeted at people like those I often work with.

Having said that, WooCommerce has many benefits. A new one of these is that shop owners can now get their products searched directly on Google with just a few clicks. Because the platform has integrated with Google Merchant Centre, customers can now shop for products directly through Google. This makes WooCommerce users’ products more widely discoverable and the stores more easily trusted under the umbrella Google’s big name.

If you’re selling online, or if you want to, it really is worth thinking about using WooCommerce to make your shop easier to run, easier to find and harder to ignore. It’s possible to install and run a store yourself, or you can open one with support from an expert. Whatever you choose to do, email me at Sam@samhollis.co.uk and I will be glad to help out further.

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