Choosing the right e-commerce platform is essential to your store's success. It will affect the shopping experience you create for your visitors, how your marketing goes, and more. It will also affect your costs, as some platforms are more expensive than others.
WooCommerce is a plugin for the open-source WordPress software and is the most popular way to make an e-commerce store in 2021.
To launch a store with WooCommerce, you'll first need to install the WordPress software on your web hosting. Then, you can add the WooCommerce plugin to WordPress to turn your site into a fully functioning e-commerce store.
Like WordPress, WooCommerce is a free, open-source project, which means that anyone can download, edit, or copy its code. It's developed by Automatic — the same team behind WordPress.com and Tumblr.
WooCommerce's standout value propositions are its flexibility and affordability. While WooCommerce itself is a plugin for WordPress, you can also find thousands of official and third-party WooCommerce plugins that further extend the core WooCommerce platform. You can use these plugins to improve your store's shopping experience, better market your store, connect other tools and gain more control over your store.
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, which means you must first create a WordPress website before installing WooCommerce.
Step 1: Get a web hosting plan
The first thing you need to do when creating a WordPress website is to get a domain name and a web hosting service. There are several recommended hosting options for WordPress, find the one with the best plan that suits your needs, and follow the host’s instructions to get started.
Step 2: Choose your domain name
Once you’ve completed the setup, you’ll need to choose a domain name. The domain name should contain your brand name and be reflective of your store. Try to keep it as simple as possible, and avoid using hyphens in your domain, as this makes it harder for users to remember your site. For an eCommerce site, we recommend using the '.com' domain extension.
We recommend that you purchase your domain name together with your hosting plan as this allows for easier management.
If you're absolutely stuck on a domain name and can't think of anything, consider using a domain name generator such as Namemesh or Panabee.
Step 3: Install WordPress
Once you've purchased your hosting plan and domain name, you'll receive an email from your hosting provider with instructions on how to access your account.
After you have logged in to your hosting account, click on the My Accounts tab and then log in to your cPanel. In cPanel, click on the WordPress icon in the auto-installers area and follow the steps to install WordPress.
You'll need to enter a username and password that you will use to log into your site along with some other information. Then, click the Finish installation button and wait for WordPress to be installed.
Note: There are two WordPress options available, .org and .com, to learn about the difference between these two options, see our in-depth guide – WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
Once you've installed WordPress, you'll need to set up your website. See our full guide on how to How to Create a WordPress Website for more information.
Step 4: Install WooCommerce
Once your WordPress website is set up, you can download and install WooCommerce like any other plugin. Just go to the WordPress repository, and download the plugin.
Or, you can find it from within the WordPress dashboard by going to Plugins > Add New, type in WooCommerce, and click Install.
Once you have installed the plugin, click Activate Now to get started.
How To Set up WooCommerce
The first thing you will see after that is the WooCommerce installation wizard. Theoretically, you can skip it and make all the changes manually. However, it's helpful to go through the process in order to configure basic WooCommerce settings and pages. So, that's what we will do.
You can find more information in the official installation guide from WooCommerce.
1. Provide Basic Information
In the beginning, the setup asks you for the essential data about your shop.
This includes the country it is based in, its address, the currency you use, and the types of goods you are planning to sell (physical, digital, both, in-person). You can also determine whether you want to allow WooCommerce to track your usage in order to improve their product.
Make the appropriate input for your business and continue via the Let’s Go button at the bottom.
2. Set up Payment Gateways
In the next step, you will configure payment options. Decide whether to use Stripe (credit card) and/or PayPal (plus, enter your credentials) as well as offline payment options like a check, bank transfer, or cash. If this is not what you need, you can extend the number of gateways via a plugin. Also, check the list of plugins at the bottom that will be installed depending on your choices.
3. Configure Shipping
After that, it's all about shipping. You already have some basic zones set up (that you can enable/disable) and to which you can apply rates. Again, more options are available via a plugin.
At the bottom, there is also a promotional offer for ShipStation, which you are free to use or not (if you do, WooCommerce will install an additional plugin). Below that, you need to determine which measurements to use for weight and dimensions. Again, take your pick and move on.
By the way, if you don't know all of this information yet, don't worry, you can also skip steps and change it all later.
4. Optional Extras
If you can't find a pre-made plugin or theme that does what you need, you also get full access to your store's underlying code, which means you can make your own direct edits (or hire a developer to do things for you).
Overall, WooCommerce is popular because it's free and it offers full flexibility, while also still keeping things simple enough that non-developers can use it to build a fully functioning, secure e-commerce store.