Businesses have taken to the internet in a bid to reach more people across the globe. Some of these businesses include online stores that have made it easier for clients to make purchases or place orders. However, building a website that will incorporate your style and still maintain functionality is a nightmare for many.
WordPress has been around for a while now and it has been known as a blog. In the recent years leading to this moment, WordPress has outgrown itself by venturing into content management. This is by far the most preferred content management system in the world. This means that it can be used to build and manage any type of website including e-commerce websites.
In this guide we will be taking you through the basic steps of building an e-commerce website and have it up and running in the shortest time possible.
Ecommerce websites are “heavy” in that they consume a lot of space both in storage and your RAM unlike other type of websites. Having said that, you need to ensure that your hosting account has enough space storage space and RAM. The more the better.
WordPress e-commerce Options
I know you have heard of the word e-commerce website before, but you are still wondering what the difference from other websites is. Generally, there are 3 components that make up an e-commerce website and they are the shopping cart, the product pages and the checkout process.
WordPress allows e-commerce functionalities to be added onto it through the use of plugins. Plugins are simply separate software that can be installed in WordPress to increase functionality.
In the case of e-commerce websites we will need a plugin that can create unique product pages, contain a shopping cart and will enable our visitors to sync their payment details with our website to allow purchases directly. It’s quite a hustle huh? But I promise it is so much fun.
For this tutorial, we will be using the leading e-commerce plugin WooCommerce. This plugin is versatile and easy to use. It contains a lot of amazing features like SEO optimization and is free?
Installing the Ecommerce Plugin
After installing WordPress it is now time we get to serious business and we start by installing WooCommerce. Head to the WordPress Dashboard and proceed to Add New Plugin. In the search box, enter WooCommerce and hit search. WooCommerce by WooThemes will appear and you simply install and activate the plugin.
After activation, a WooCommerce installation wizard will appear and it will take you through the final steps. They include adding the three components we talked about that are crucial for an e-commerce website.
Next will be a prompt asking you to enter the location of your store, the currency you prefer to use and so on. Next will be the shipping and tax details followed by the payment details which is the most important part of your online store.
If you are unsure of the details to enter in these steps do not worry because you can change them later in the general settings.
Setting up Your Online Store Structure
Permalinks (permanent links) are important for your website. However, once they are set up it is quite difficult to change. So, to get started go to the WooCommerce link on the WordPress dashboard and click on settings then select products.
Download a Suitable WordPress Theme
Plugins as we said earlier in the article take care of the functionalities of your website. Themes on the hand, take care of the layout of your website, basically, what the customers are able to view.
I talk of a suitable theme because there are themes out there that cannot handle the functionalities of the WooCommerce plugin perfectly. So you need to be careful when downloading themes. I would prefer that you get your themes from WooThemes. Their themes are compatible with WooCommerce since they are the same developers.
General Store Settings
To check out the general settings for WooCommerce, navigate to your dashboard and select settings and then the General tab.
Most of these settings are default and some of them you will have already installed earlier in this tutorial. If you feel like you need to change some of the settings to spruce up your website you can do so.
WooCommerce comes with amazing features like in-built styling buttons, you can also customize the style.css file of your themes.
Setting up Product Pages
This is the last step of our tutorial and it basically involves building pages that will be displaying your products.
Some of the features that can also be included are:
- Product image – this simply sets the main image to be featured.
- Product tags – here you can add more categories that do not necessarily need to be products e.g. Colors.
- Product categories – these can be added from the product page directly.
- Product gallery – these are the images that will act as thumbnails and will appear on the product page.
Another feature that is definitely a killer is the product data widget. This widget enables you to fix your product type, shipping, pricing and much more.
Under the product type there are different types of products:
- Simple product – this is a product that contains no changes, no options and is not a part of any collection.
- Grouped products – these are products that are part of a collection like a
- Variable products – you can add attributes to describe your product, for example, large, small, blue and so on. The aim of the variable products is to enable customers to choose a particular version of the same product.
- External products – these are products that you can sell or list offsite with collaborating partners.
We have looked at the basics of building an e-commerce website from scratch, but there is so much you can do in terms of customizations. With that said I wish you a happy e-commerce website building
Setting up your first ecommerce website can take a lot of trial and error to get right. Get in touch with us and let us help you get it right the first time.