This tutorial is going to teach you how to create an ecommerce website with WordPress.
- You don’t need to know any type of coding or programming
- You just need a computer
- And you need time to learn and enjoy
Step 1: Choose your domain name and hosting provider.
The first step in WordPress eCommerce setup starts with your domain name. This will become the address of your future website. A domain name is what you enter into the address bar of your browser to access a website.
While WordPress itself is free, you’ll need to pay for your domain name, which starts at US$10 per year. The cost is well worth it, as having your own domain name (i.e. yourbusinessname.com) is far more professional-looking than having your name on someone else’s domain (i.e. yourbusinessname.otherdomain.com).
You will also need a hosting provider, a service that will host your website on the Internet. By having a dedicated hosting provider, you’re assured that your website will load quickly and not suffer from extended periods of downtime.
You have the option of a shared or dedicated host. With a shared host, your website is on the same server as several other websites, which is cheaper, but often provides you with less control over your website as well as potentially smaller storage and bandwidth availability. Meanwhile, a dedicated host is more expensive, but gives your website a whole server exclusively for your use, and gives you a wide degree of control, storage, and bandwidth.
After snagging your domain and host, you can now install WordPress, and there are two ways to go about it:
In the one-click install, you register your domain name and get your WordPress site hosted from the same provider. WordPress recommends your host supports PHP 7, MySQL v5.6+ or MariaDB v10.0+, and HTTPS.
You can also use hosting providers trusted by WordPress, which will make installation easier and ensure that your chosen host is supported. WordPress itself recommends Pressable, BlueHost, Dreamhost, Flywheel, and SiteGround.
With the manual option, you set up a server manually, then install the WordPress platform on your server, and configure it. You’ll need to have an FTP client, a database setup through cPanel or phpMyAdmin, and access to your web server. As such, this option is recommended only for advanced users.
Step 2: Install Ecommerce WordPress Theme
The easiest way to start your site is with a premade eCommerce theme. You’ll get an attractive design, all the features geared for eCommerce websites, and support from the theme author.
These three collections can help you to choose a good eCommerce WordPress theme:
- Best Premium Ecommerce WordPress themes
- Best Free Ecommerce WordPress themes
- Best Ecommerce WordPress themes
Step 3: Select an eCommerce plugin.
What will separate your WordPress eCommerce website from a standard WordPress website will be the means by which you sell products directly from your site. There are no native WordPress eCommerce features, so to add this functionality to your website, you’ll need to install an eCommerce plugin.
Once a mere eCommerce plugin, WooCommerce has now morphed into a whole platform with its own plugin system since it was acquired by Automattic two years ago. It’s a highly customisable platform that gives you total control over your online store. About 30% of all online stores use WooCommerce as their platform; some local stores that use it are Beauty Choice and Green Point Flowers.
WooCommerce features a complete eCommerce backend that helps you build and organise product pages, and provides a shopping cart and checkout process.
Easy Digital Downloads
While most eCommerce plugins and platforms revolve around the sale of physical products, Easy Digital Downloads or EDD is specifically designed to help you sell digital products.
EDD allows you to create discount codes, place restrictions on downloads, and provides full tracking and data reporting of downloads, sales, and other statistics. You can also add new features to your EDD storefront with extensions, which give you the ability to sell software licenses and subscriptions, add payment processors like PayPal, and more.
EDD is free, with various paid extensions you can purchase.
WP eCommerce isn’t quite as fully-featured as WooCommerce, but it’s another popular and robust choice for creating an online store with WordPress.
It has all the basic features, including product pages, shopping cart, and checkout functionality, and comes with excellent data reporting capabilities and inventory management. Like the other plugins, it’s free, but provides optional paid and free extensions that can add functionality. It also comes in a paid Gold Cart package option that adds more advanced tools, layouts, and features. You can also purchase premium payment gateways like Stripe and Authorize.net.
Step 4: Install your eCommerce plugin.
Once you’ve chosen an eCommerce plugin for your WordPress site, it’s time to install it through your WordPress backend. For convenience’s sake, the following steps assume that you chose the WooCommerce platform:
- Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
- On the sidebar, go to the Plugins section and click “Add New”.
- In the search bar, type “WooCommerce” and hit Enter. Click “Install Now” on WooCommerce by WooThemes.
Step 5: Set up the product pages.
Now that you have your plugin set up, it’s time to start adding products and their product pages. Every plugin does things differently, so we’ll cover the steps for doing this in WooCommerce.
At the very least, every product you add must have the following features:
- Product name
- Brief description
Begin by entering your WordPress admin panel, then select “Products” on the sidebar and select “Add Product”. WooCommerce allows you to add both physical and virtual products to your store.
a) Adding physical products
You’ll be greeted with an interface very similar to that of publishing a blog post on WordPress. Insert your product name where a post title would normally be, and add a description where post content would be. Then, on the right sidebar, add a product image for your product (analogous to a featured image), and then optionally insert more images in the product gallery.
Next, in the Product Data section, add more details about your product. The first thing to pay attention to is the Product Type drop-down box. The applicable product types for physical products are the following:
- Simple: A simple product with no SKU options
- Grouped: Multiple related products, which consist of several related “child” products, each of which is a Simple product
- Variable: A product with different SKUs, for example, shirts or shoes that have different size options
- External/Affiliate: Items sold outside of your store