If you have an existing WordPress website and are finally getting around to turning it into an online shop, the WooCommerce plugin is a reliable, affordable, and painless way of doing so.
WooCommerce is one of the most popular free eCommerce solutions on the market today. It is easy to set up, offers plenty of design and functionality straight out of the box, and even has free and premium extensions for taking your online store to the next level.
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Today I will explain how to turn your existing domain into a fully functioning eCommerce shop using the WooCommerce platform.
Who knows, you may even become inspired to open up shop and generate revenue from the loyal following you have built with your website’s killer content.
How to Use WooCommerce
Powering over 28% of all online shops, WooCommerce is a powerful and affordable eCommerce platform allowing website owners to quickly and painlessly turn their existing WordPress websites into online stores.
It has exceptional visual appeal, lots of built-in functionality, and gives you complete control over every element of your online store so you can sell physical, digital, and virtual products with ease from your website.
In addition, it comes with the ability to extend beyond what you could ever imagine, includes extensive documentation for troubleshooting, and in some instances has a support team on hand to help you with any glitches or security issues.
Step 1: Install and Activate the WooCommerce Plugin
First navigate to Plugins > Add New in your WordPress dashboard and search for WooCommerce.
Next, select Install Now and then Activate.
Step 2: Utilize the Setup Wizard
Once you activate WooCommerce, you will have the chance to use the convenient Setup Wizard to get your online store up and running quickly.
Click on Let’s Go, and follow the Setup Wizard’s prompts.
All you need to do is follow each step to get your WooCommerce store setup.
Step 3: Page Setup
The first step in the Setup Wizard is to create essential pages your website will need published to run properly. These pages include:
- Shop. The shop pages displays your online store’s products for customers.
- Cart. Here customers can view their shopping cart items and begin the checkout process.
- Checkout. This is where customers will be able to finalize their purchase transactions.
- My Account. Anyone registered on your website will be able to manage their account details and shopping orders from this page.
Click on Continue to have these pages automatically created for you. You will then be able to make any necessary changes to them from your WordPress dashboard section by navigating to the Pages section.
Step 4: Store Location
In this next step, first choose where your store is based. Next, choose the currency your online store will use and determine whether you will be charging sales tax. You will also need to decide whether your store products will have sales tax built into their prices manually or not.
Based on the information you provide about your store’s locale, WooCommerce will automatically import tax rates (such as state sales tax if based in the United States) into your shop’s checkout process. However, it is important to keep in mind that you may need to manually edit some tax rates depending on your product type and store location.
Step 5: Shipping
After your store’s location has been determined, you will be able to define the shipping details. For instance, I chose to define the weight and dimension units as pounds and inches respectively.
Additionally, I chose to enable the WooCommerce Shipping feature, which will allow me to print shipping labels and receive discounts on USPS shipping rates, directly from my WordPress dashboard.
Step 6: Payments
Payments are essential to running a successful online store. After all, without the ability to accept payments from customers, you cannot sell anything. And, while this may seem obvious, those new to building an online shop are often unaware of how payment acceptance on a website works.
WooCommerce offers online shop owners multiple ways of accepting both online and offline payments from customers:
- PayPal. Accept secure payments from customers while allowing them to access and utilize their PayPal accounts.
- Stripe. Stripe is another popular payment gateway for accepting credit card payments online.
- PayPal Standard. Allow payments to be made using an account balance or credit card.
- Check Payments. Agree to accept checks from customers as a way of paying offline.
- Bank Transfer (BACS). Another offline gateway allowing you to accept bank transfers from your customer’s bank to yours.
- Cash on Deliver (CoD). Accept cash payments once a product is delivered.
WooCommerce offers several other methods for accepting payments online, offline, via forms, iFrames, and more. Moreover, you can filter your payment options by country when deciding to add additional payment options to your online shop.
Step 7: Choose a Theme
The thing about using WooCommerce on your existing WordPress domain is that you will need a WooCommerce compatible theme in order for your shop to run properly without having to deal with coding issues.
However, most WordPress themes are compatible with WooCommerce, thus cutting down on styling and function issues.
You have the option of using WooCommerce’s default theme, Storefront, while setting up your online store. And, if you decide to change it later, you can do this easily from the WordPress dashboard.
In fact, there are many free and premium themes compatible with WooCommerce available on the market today.
Storefront comes with features such as:
- Seamless integration with WooCommerce and any extensions
- Fully customizable in all aspects of design and functionality
- Child theme ready for a solid foundation
- 100% mobile-friendly design
- Built-in accessibility to reach all audience types
- Support for all major slider, shortcode, and page builder plugins
- SEO optimized for the best search rankings
In the end, you can ultimately choose whatever theme you want depending on your design desires and functionality needs. Some of the best premium WooCommerce themes are found on ThemeForest, a reliable theme marketplace that has an extensive filtering system so you can find the perfect theme to match your budget.
Step 8: Add Products
And that’s it. Your online store is not all setup and ready to go. All you need to do now is add products to your store to start selling (which will take an entirely new post to explain!).
Setting up an eCommerce shop on your existing WordPress domain is simple when you choose to use WooCommerce as your platform. This is especially true when you take advantage of the built-in Setup Wizard that allows you to configure all of the basic settings step-by-step.
Though WooCommerce is very simple to configure, keep in mind that running an online shop takes a lot of hard work and effort if you want it to stand out from the crowd. As a result, you will likely need to do some learning along the way.
However, since WooCommerce has such a large following, plenty of documentation, and has an intuitive interface, creating the online shop of your dreams is definitely within reach.
Better option than Shopify?
Andrew Allemann says
Great question, John. I’ll let Lindsay chime in, but I’m a big fan of Shopify. A key reason people use WooCommerce is because of the flexibility. When you use Shopify you have limited customizations. (Until recently you couldn’t even host the checkout page of your shopify site on your own domain, for example.)
Interesting, thanks for the info, Andrew.
Lindsay Liedke says
Andrew is right, this is a great question and one I would love to address. Keep in mind, I do not run an eCommerce shop of my own, so I really have no reason to love one over the other. However, based on my test runs of each, here is what I have to offer you by way of explanation:
1. Shopify spares you the fee of hosting your website, whereas WooCommerce requires a self-hosted WordPress website, however, you lose a lot of control over your website this way which is not good for those that really love to tinker. This is especially true when it comes to overall site design.
2. Shopify websites are limited to the themes provided by Shopify, whereas WooCommerce integrates with nearly every WordPress theme available.
3. The built-in SEO that comes with many WordPress themes that cater to WooCommerce sites surpass the built-in SEO of Shopify sites. Plus, external plugins such as Yoast SEO help WooCommerce sites index and rank well.
4. The price is always a major concern. Though you must invest in hosting if you use WooCommerce, there are lots of high quality shared hosting plans starting as low as $3.95/month for WordPress users. That said, Shopify’s lowest priced plan starts at $29/month. Though it is an all-in-one solution, many of the features found in Shopify can be achieved on a WooCommerce website via free WordPress plugins.
In the end, this is not to say anything against Shopify. Shopify has a lot of really great features such as social media sales options, built-in site building tools, and mobile app technology. It just so happens, a lot of people prefer WooCommerce for the reasons I mentioned above (and some others I didn’t get into).
I hope that helps!
Thanks, yes this helps a lot for perspective and decision making, Lindsay. Another great, useful, valuable, and extremely well presented post by you. 🙂
Lindsay Liedke says
Thank you John! You are very kind with all the compliments 🙂