Building an Ecommerce Website with WordPress

Peter A. Liefer II | Posted: January 15th, 2021 | Updated: February 4th, 2021

In today’s competitive marketplace, e-commerce is a must-have for a business. It’s not just an extra to add to your marketing plan. How important is e-commerce to your business? Online shopping is one of the most popular online activities, not just in the USA but worldwide. 

Try to wrap your head around these numbers.

The world population currently at the end of 2020 is 7.8 billion. According to Statista, a leading market and consumer data provider, 2.05 billion individuals purchased goods online in 2020. That is a quarter of the world’s population! 

Further on, 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online in 2021, with sales projected to grow to 6.54 trillion US dollars in 2022.

Convenience and cost-savings prompt people to use ecommerce. Faster Internet speeds and cheaper devices also aid in the tremendous growth of this remarkable marketing technology.

Due to hectic schedules, mobile devices, and apps’ pervasiveness, consumers look for businesses that understand this and cater to their needs. As a business owner, you do not want to miss this opportunity to reach a global market that’s open 24 hours, seven days a week. By launching an online store, you can connect with a vast audience.

eCommerce – Start with WordPress

If you want to start an ecommerce website for your brand, WordPress is one of the best platforms to use. WordPress is NOT an ecommerce application but is a CMS or Content Management System. 

A CMS provides the capabilities for creating, organizing, editing, and publishing content to the Web. Instead of requiring multiple software applications, only one application is required.

WordPress is user-friendly and provides a solid foundation to power your online store. However, there are no native WordPress eCommerce features. To give it the functionality to sell products or services, you need to add an ecommerce plugin. 

There are many plugins and extensions you could use to make WordPress operate as an ecommerce store. One popular plugin is WooCommerce.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin for small to medium business websites for one good reason. It’s free! There are many free extensions (plugins) to expand functionality. More advanced plugins cost, so what you have to spend will depend on your needs. However, you can have a decent eCommerce site without paying for particular functions. 

Getting started

To use WordPress to create an eCommerce website, you’ll first have to pay for a domain name and web hosting. Most web hosting companies provide WordPress hosting with a one-click installation at affordable monthly and annual rates.

With WP’s easy-to-use interface, your online store can be set up quickly. The more information prepared ahead of time, the faster your store can be up and running. To this end, have your business name, logo, and tagline ready. Have your initial products named, with descriptions, categories, prices, and images prepared beforehand as much as possible. 

Install a Theme

Once WordPress is installed, you will need to select a theme. In simple terms, a theme is the appearance of your website that your audience sees.

WordPress defines a theme as:

 “a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software.”

You will have 14 free themes available to use at the start. You can find a massive selection of free and paid Themes online at sites like Themeforest or Elegant Themes, to name a few. 

To be sure how a theme will look, you can preview it before activation. Keep in mind that if you use the standard WordPress themes initially provided, other websites may use the same theme, so your website won’t be unique.

The beauty of WordPress is that you are never stuck with a theme. You can change themes or change colors and other theme parts to customize it.

Plugins

Plugins are an essential feature of WordPress. Plugins extend and add functionality that already exists in WP. As previously mentioned, you will need to add the WooCommerce plugin to give your site shopping functions. 

Just as with themes, there are many plugins available, both from WordPress and many other sites online, free, and paid. There are over 50,000 plugins that can do just about anything you may want at wordpress.org. 

How to install WooCommerce

Installing WooCommerce or any plugin is simple.

  1. Log in to the WordPress dashboard.
  2. Go to the Plugins section on the sidebar and click “Add New.”
  3. In the search bar, type “WooCommerce” and hit Enter. 
  4. Click “Install Now” on WooCommerce.

Once the WooCommerce installation is complete, an activate button will appear. The activate button will launch a setup wizard to continue configuring your store’s initial settings.

The WooCommerce Setup Wizard is where you configure basic settings through a guided screen by screen walkthrough of five setup components: 

  • Page Setup 
  • Store location 
  • Shipping 
  • Payments
  • Themes 

Setup can also be completed within the WordPress Dashboard.

Required Pages

For your shop to function, you will need to create these essential pages:

  1. Shop – where your products are displayed.
  2. Cart – where the customers go to view items in their cart and begin the checkout.
  3. Checkout – where the customers go to pay for their items.
  4. My account – where registered customers manage their account details and view past orders. 

Adding Products

Now that WooCommerce is set up, you can start adding products and product pages. Every product added needs to have the following items at a minimum.

  • Product name
  • Price
  • Image
  • Brief description

Go to the WordPress admin panel, and on the sidebar, select “Products” Then select “Add Product.” You can add physical and virtual products to your online store.

Payment Gateway

In the Setup Wizard, you will set up your online store’s payment options. An eCommerce site, of course, needs a means of receiving payments from customers. When a customer goes to the checkout of your shop, they are directed to your payment gateway. There they need to input their financial information or sign in to their account.

PayPal is a popular payment gateway available, but not everyone will use that. WooCommerce incredibly supports over 100 payment gateways. There are four default options in the Payments section to receive payments. These are:

  • Direct bank transfer
  • Check payments
  • Cash on delivery
  • PayPal

Payment Security

To use most features of payment gateways, you must have an SSL certificate. The certificate ensures that all transactions and exchanges of financial information between you and your customer are safe from hackers. Most customers will be reluctant to purchase items online without this level of security. SSL certificates can be installed on your site by your hosting provider for a fee.

Shipping

The next thing you need to set up is how customers will receive your products. On the shipping tab, you can configure your shipping rates. You can choose from Live Rates, Flat Rates, and Free Shipping. If you’re not sure what these will be, you can accept the default and modify them later.

Conclusion

This article is just a fundamental idea of how you can use WordPress to launch an eCommerce website for your business. There are many things to know about WordPress and WooCommerce. There are many online resources to discover the minute details that can make your site very professional and effective at delivering sales. 

Hiring a web development company is an option you should consider, at least to get you started. They can provide training on different aspects of managing an eCommerce website. After a time, you should be able to do many of the functions required, such as adding new products and functionality with plugins. 

Don’t get frustrated with the endeavor. You can continue to expand and improve your online shop as you go and see what works and what doesn’t. The rewards can be tremendous. 

I hope this article will inspire you to join the millions of others who have brought their brick-and-mortar shop into the realm of online shopping.