In this guide, I will cover some of the steps to get you started and selling online with WooCommerce. I’ll assume you have WordPress already installed and are ready to take those tentative steps into creating your online store using WooCommerce.
Completely new to WooCommerce? You can get setup with a brand new website and go live in less than an hour by following James’s video tutorial here:
Installing WooCommerce The Easy Way
The easiest way to install WooCommerce is via your WordPress admin, head on over to Plugins in your admin sidebar, click on Add New, add WooCommerce as your search term, then hit install. Simple.
Installation complete, it’s that easy.
Activating some plugins for WordPress can be a laborious affair, not so with WooCommerce. Over the years, WooCommerce has grown exponentially; as a by-product of this, once you’ve activated WooCommerce, you’ll be greeted by a wizard.
The WooCommerce Setup Wizard
If you’ve never installed WooCommerce before, you might be a little taken aback once hitting the activate button. Don’t panic; the WooCommerce setup wizard makes your life a whole lot easier.
The setup process is separated into five stages; first up the Welcome to WooCommerce section.
1. Welcome to WooCommerce
Filling this correctly, and WooCommerce will auto-detect which currency to use for your online store, along with shipping rules. You can change these later if so required.
Ignore the setting up a store for a client; this guide is for you and your online store, not a client.
Lastly, you’ll see skip setup store details; for the ease of setting up WooCommerce, don’t click this option. Unless you’re a pro, if you are, why are you reading this guide?
Once you’ve filled in your address details and hit continue, you’ll see the below prompt
This step is entirely optional; in this example, I’ve opted out.
2. Choosing a Sector for Your Online Store
Here you’ll need to set a specific industry that’s relevant to your store; there are seven choices in total:
- Fashion, apparel, and accessories
- Health and beauty
- Electronics and computers
- Food and drink
- Home, furniture, and garden
- Education and learning
Selecting Other will ask you for a description of your sector. Enter in a brief description of your industry.
I’ve chosen Electronics and computers.
3. Product Types
As the industry I’ve chosen lends itself to physical products, that’s what I’ve gone with; however, should you require downloads as an option, you can enable that here.
The other checkboxes cover services offered by WooCommerce, such as Subscriptions, Memberships, Bookings, Bundles, and lastly, Customizable products.
There is a cost associated with these options. And it’s down to you and your needs as to what to enable here.
4. Business Details
I check the first option usually; this doesn’t affect anything in your WooCommerce setup.
The second option currently selling elsewhere throws some choices at you based on your input; here are the input options:
- Yes, on another platform
- Yes, I own a different store powered by WooCommerce
- Yes, in-person at physical stores and/or events
- Yes, on another platform and in person at physical stores and/or events
Choosing anything other than No, and you’ll be prompted to answer questions such as what platform you are currently using and the annual turnover.
You’ll also see the below additions, and these are recommended plugins to help you get the most out of WooCommerce.
Here you can enable or disable the installation of plugins WooCommerce offers.
I’ve deselected them as I want my store up and running as quickly as possible.
You can always come back to these options at a later date.
5. Choosing a Theme for Your Woocommerce Store
The last part of the WooCommerce setup wizard deals with your WordPress theme.
You probably have a WooCommerce compatible theme already; if you don’t, you can choose a new one here.
Choose from paid themes or free WordPress themes; in this example, I have the Twenty Twenty theme installed. I’ll keep it for the time being.
Click on Continue with my active theme, and the setup is complete. Or is it?
There’s One More Step
On clicking on continue with my active theme, you will see the below:
Another optional step, here you can connect Jetpack to your WooCommerce installation.
Doing this will allow you to manage your store via an app, automate sales taxes/print shipping labels at home, and lastly, help improve the speed/security of your online shop.
You can enable these options later, so don’t worry too much about them now.
The WooCommerce HQ
The WooCommerce HQ is an onboarding process and only lasts a few steps, so clicking on next will speed through the slides.
What we’re interested in is finishing the setup for WooCommerce. See below:
After you’ve enabled the theme of your choice, completed the WooCommerce HQ onboarding, you’ll see a collection of steps to finalize your store setup.
Before I go through these steps, WooCommerce creates pages for you as part of the installation process. Let’s take a quick look at each one, so you know what to expect.
As you can see from the above, WooCommerce has created four pages in total: Cart, Checkout, My account, and a page for the Shop.
The WooCommerce Cart Page
Move along, nothing to see here! What did you expect? We don’t have any products available as yet, so nothing to add to the cart; if we had, this is where they’d be.
The WooCommerce Checkout Page
To the untrained eye, you might think this is the same page, and it is. Notice the highlighted section?
When clicking on Checkout to view it from your admin, and as we have no products to checkout with, WooCommerce (rather cleverly) redirects the checkout page to the cart page.
Displaying a message in the process:
Checkout is not available whilst your cart is empty.
This isn’t an error, so don’t panic!
The WooCommerce My Account Page
The My Account page is where is a hub of sorts for your customers. It’s where they can view their current orders, view downloads, add a new billing or shipping address, and make changes to account details.
The WooCommerce Shop Page
Again not much to see here; once you’ve started adding products to your WooCommerce powered store, this is where they’ll reside.
Let’s finish the setup.
Setting Up Woocommerce Product Categories
Contrary to the finish setup brief in WooCommerce, I’d recommend adding a product category first. The reason?
We need to categorize our products. By default, WooCommerce adds the following product category: Uncategorized.
I always edit the Uncategorized category first, as you can’t delete it by default.
Editing this category gives you a base to work off. Here you can add whatever product category you wish; make sure you give it a description and save it.
The Woocommerce Product Page
Adding a new product to WooCommerce is not unlike adding a new blog post or page.
Currently, Gutenberg isn’t supported in the creation of products, and WooCommerce uses the classic editor for this purpose.
The Woocommerce Product Page Layout
There is a lot to get through; and I’ll briefly touch on the product page’s layout. Let’s break things down into easy to swallow chunks.
Product Name & Description
The product name, here you’ll need to add a title for the product in question. Next, you’ll need to add a description of the item, using the editor, fill it with text/images relevant to your specific product.
We will be elaborating more on the product data tab in future posts, as there’s quite a lot to it. For now, I’ll be brief.
Product Data – Simple Product
General, this deals with the regular price and the sale price. There’s also an option to schedule a sale, choose a start/end date via a date picker.
Inventory, this option allows you to set an SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). An SKU is a unique identifier for your product.
You can also enable stock management, stock status and choose to allow your product to be bought only once in a single order.
The Shipping tab lets you set the weight, dimension, and shipping class of your product.
Linked Products, when you start adding products to WooCommerce, you can manually search for additional products you’d like to offer as upsells or cross-sells.
Product Attributes, here you can add a custom attribute for your product and choose whether to display it on your store’s front end.
An example attribute could be something like:
Values: Red | Blue | Pink
Advanced tab, here, you can add a purchase note to be shown to the customer once they’ve placed an order. This note will display in the following places:
- The order received page for customers.
- Purchase confirmation page received by the customer.
- On the My Account page, under orders, view orders.
Enable reviews; if you’d like to allow customers to leave a review of your product, tick the box. Don’t want reviews left on your item, untick the box.
You can also set the Menu order for the reviews tab on the frontend by entering a numeric value.
The last tab is called Get more options; here, you can view recommended extensions for WooCommerce.
WooCommerce has lots of extensions, some free, some premium. If you’d like to turn off suggestions, click on Manage suggestions; in the next screen, uncheck the Show Suggestions box.
Virtual & Downloadable Products in Woocommerce
Did you notice the two checkboxes next to Simple Product? Clicking Virtual removes the Shipping tab, as shipping is not required when using this option:
Adding a Downloadable product is a different process, and if you are thinking of using WooCommerce to sell digital downloads, there are a few fields you’ll need to fill in.
There are three new fields you’ll need to complete to add your digital download.
First up, you’ll need to Add File(s) to your product listing, then set a Download limit (to prevent multiple downloads) and a Download expiry date.
That’s the simple product covered; now I could go into detail on each one of the below:
- Grouped product
- External/affiliate product
- Variable product
If I went into detail on Grouped products and Variable products, this guide would be incredibly long. We will be covering these in finer detail in another article.
For now, you have an understanding of how a simple product works and what to expect.
Product Short Description
The short description of products often gets overlooked; I cannot stress how important it is to use it.
Adding a short description to your product helps customers, the content you enter here displays on the frontend of your product.
Let’s fill it in, and I’ll show you what I mean. See below for an example:
Think of the short description as a call to action. Keep it short and give customers an idea of what features the product has:
As you can see from the above screenshot, the product looks all the better for a short description on display.
Here’s a quick tip to make sure you don’t forget to fill in the short description, see below:
Move the short description section above the product data tab using the chevron as indicated.
By doing this, it’s more obvious you need to fill it in. I’ve created products before, and I was so eager to get the product published, I’d completely forgotten to fill it in!
Product Images In WooCommerce
So I’ve covered the basics with products, and now for images. A picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure you have quality images of your products for potential customers.
If you’re already familiar with WordPress, you’ll know the process for adding images.
You have two options when adding images:
Product image, this is the primary image of the product or featured image, if you will.
Product gallery, this is where you can add additional photos of your product.
I’ve gone ahead and added another image; how do they display on the frontend? See below:
The key is not to overwhelm potential customers with a shed load of images; sometimes, less is more. Only use images that show the product off to the best of your ability.
Setting up WooCommerce Shipping
Shipping in WooCommerce or at least getting set up can be a complicated process. In this example, I’m going to simplify things.
You’ll have seen that the currency on display in some of the screenshots is in £ or GBP (Great British Pounds); as the store is based in the UK, I want to set up shipping for this country.
Accessing shipping settings is simple; in your WooCommerce menu, click on Settings, and you’ll see the below options:
Setting up a Shipping Zone in Woocommerce
Next, you’ll need to click on the Add shipping zone button; once you’ve done that, you’ll see the following:
As you can see from the above, I’ve given the Zone name, UK Shipping. Zone regions, from the dropdown menu, I’ve selected the United Kingdom.
You’ll notice right under the Zone regions section, a link called Limited too specific ZIP/postcodes, here; you can add a list of postcodes/zip codes you’d like to limit this zone region for.
Adding a Shipping Method in Woocommerce
Clicking on the Add shipping method button, a modal will appear for you to set a specific method:
The options are:
- Flat Rate, set a specific amount to charge for shipping.
- Free Shipping, useful if you’ve already built shipping into your cost price and more attractive to customers.
- Local pickup, if you have a warehouse or business premises, you can add this as an option.
For now, I want to get up and running as quickly as possible, so I’ve gone for Flat rate shipping.
Once you’ve added Flat rate as an option, you’ll see the below added to your Shipping zones screen:
To associate a cost with this method, you’ll need to edit it. Click Flat rate, and you’ll see a prompt to add a price:
Here you can change the method’s title, choose whether it’s taxable and finally add a cost.
Woocommerce Payment Methods
Our store wouldn’t be a store without the ability to accept payments. To enable payments and view the available options, you’ll need to head towards Settings and click on the Payments tab:
Out of the box, WooCommerce supports four different payment methods: Direct bank transfer, Check payments, Cash on delivery and Paypal Standard.
Direct Bank Transfer
This method allows customers to make a payment directly to your bank account:
All you need to do here is give the method a Title, Description, Instructions, and, more importantly, Account details.
Some businesses (believe it or not) still use check payments, and if that’s your business, then it’s good to know WooCommerce has this option.
Here you can add a Title to this specific method, add a Description to clarify what you need from a customer. Lastly, Instructions this is displayed on the order confirmation page and in customer emails.
Cash On Delivery
Cash on delivery only applies to those with a brick and mortar store/warehouse or perhaps a pickup point.
Setting this method up is very similar to the other two methods already mentioned, with two new additions.
Enable for shipping methods; here, you can enable cash on delivery for specific shipping methods, take, for example, Local pickup as an option.
Accept for virtual orders; if you’d like to accept cash on delivery for virtual orders/services, you can enable it here.
There’s quite a lot to go through here, and we will cover this more in-depth in another article as it’s an article in itself!
PayPal isn’t the only option for online payment gateways. WooCommerce has over a hundred different extensions for dealing with payments.
Wrapping it Up
Hopefully, this guide will have armed you with enough information on whether WooCommerce is right for you, and hopefully, you’ll have picked up some tips along the way.
Remember, there’s a whole lot more to setting up a WooCommerce store; I’ve not even covered taxes, weight-based shipping; there’s so much more to go through.
Don’t worry; we’ll be covering more WooCommerce tutorials, offering tips and advice along the way.
Till next time.