E-commerce has been on the rise for years, but more so now than ever. If you’re one of the many companies looking to move your business online, you’re probably wondering where to start or the most effective way to go about it.
The good news is that, with the right tools, incorporating e-commerce into your solutions isn’t a complicated task. As a WordPress user, you have the advantage of using plugins that make setting up an online store a simple, seamless process.
In this post, we’ll discuss what you need to start an e-commerce site, including some of the best plugins to use. Then we’ll walk you through how to to set up an online store for your WordPress site in five easy steps. Let’s get started!
What You Need to Set Up an Online Store
There has never been a better time to start selling online than now. However, before you actually create your online store, there are a few things you’ll need to get started.
First, you need a domain name and a WordPress hosting plan. If you’re looking to set up an online store for your existing WordPress site, you don’t need to worry about this part. If you want to create a new website, we recommend using self-managed WordPress hosting.
Also, whether it’s for a new or existing site, we recommend installing a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate. This will help minimize and prevent malicious activity on your online store, such as fraud.
Once you purchase your domain and hosting plan, the next thing you’ll need to do is decide on an e-commerce platform to use. While there are many options out there, there are a few that are particularly well suited for WordPress. Let’s take a quick look at what those are and what each has to offer.
WooCommerce is the most popular e-commerce solution for WordPress sites. It’s feature-rich, user-friendly, and comes with an Onboarding Wizard that makes setting up and managing a storefront quick and easy.
Another benefit is that WooCommerce offers a plethora of extensions you can use to expand the functionality and enhance the appearance of your online store. You can also choose from a variety of themes to streamline the process of designing your storefront.
If you plan on selling digital products on your WordPress site, Easy Digital Downloads is definitely worth considering. This e-commerce solution is specifically designed for selling non-physical products, such as e-books, videos, images, etc.
In addition to multiple payment gateways and a cart system for purchasing multiple downloads, EDD includes features for software licensing, email service integrations, bundling products, and more. As with WooCommerce, it also comes with plenty of extensions and themes you can use to enhance your online store.
While not a complete e-commerce solution, Barn2 builds WordPress plugins that are specifically created to extend both the WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads plugins. Regardless of which e-commerce platform you use, Barn2 offers a variety of plugins that help improve the features and functionality of your online store.
Some examples of the standout, hand-crafted plugins are WooCommerce Product Table for quickly creating data-rich product tables for WooCommerce products and WooCommerce Protected Tables for hiding parts of your store. They also offer an Easy Digital Downloads EU VAT plugin that you can use to sell digital products to European customers.
Download Monitor provides an interface for uploading and managing downloadable files as well as selling them.
Download Monitor’s goal is to keep your sales products organized and provide a means to monitor the number of downloads a file has, along with an easy method of linking to those files using shortcodes.
This WordPress plugin also provides a big bunch of powerful extensions you can take advantage of for more customizations.
How to Set Up an Online Store for Your WordPress Site (In 5 Steps)
Once you have your WordPress site up and running and have decided which e-commerce solution to use, it’s time to get to work. Let’s take a look at how to set up an online store for your WordPress site in five simple steps.
Step 1: Install and Activate Your E-Commerce Plugin
As we discussed, we recommend using either WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads for your e-commerce solution. For this tutorial, we’ll be using WooCommerce. However, on the whole, the steps involved are similar regardless of which plugin you use.
To install the WooCommerce plugin on your WordPress site, navigate to Plugins > Add New, then enter ‘WooCommerce’ in the search field:
It should be the first plugin that shows up. Click on the Install Now button, followed by Activate.
Step 2: Run the Setup Wizard to Configure Your Store Settings and Payment Method
After you activate the WooCommerce plugin, it will add a few menu items to your dashboard. If you click on WooCommerce, you can begin running the setup wizard, starting with your store location:
The setup wizard takes you through multiple modules and covers everything from the pages included in your online store to the shipping and tax configurations. You can always come back to these settings later.
For now, the most important tasks are to define the store location parameters and select a payment method:
The two main and recommended options are PayPal and Stripe. Note: To integrate your online store with either payment gateway, you need to have an existing account with them.
Click on Continue until you finish with the setup wizard. When you’re done, you can return to your WordPress dashboard.
Step 3: Add Products to Your Online Store
With the basic settings out of the way, now it’s time to begin uploading your e-commerce products. This is one of the most important steps of learning how to set up an online store for your WordPress site since it’s one you’ll revisit and repeat frequently.
To add a new product, navigate to Products > Add New:
On this page, you can add a name for your product, as well as a description of it. You’ll notice the new product page for WooCommerce looks and functions similar to a regular WordPress post or page. For example, you can select categories, tags, and images for the product on the right-side panel.
When you scroll down, under ‘Product data’ box, there are multiple tabs where you can provide the information for shipping, product inventory, pricing, and more:
When you’re done, click on the Publish button in the top right-hand corner. Repeat this process for every product you want to add to your online store.
Step 4: Choose and Customize Your Online Store Theme
While you don’t need to wait until you’ve uploaded products to choose and install a theme for your online store, we recommend doing so. Having products already added makes it easier to understand how your theme will look and function for your online store.
WooCommerce works with any WordPress theme, which you can choose from the WordPress Themes Directory. However, we recommend using an e-commerce-specific theme because they are designed specifically to function for online storefronts.
After you install and activate your theme on your WordPress site, you can further customize it to your liking. You can do this by going to Appearance > Customize from your dashboard.
Step 5: Choose Extensions to Enhance Your Online Store
At this point, you have set up a fully functioning online store for your WordPress site. However, you might be missing some key features and functionalities you’re looking for, which you can add through plugins.
Once you purchase or download a plugin, you can upload it to your WordPress site by going to Plugins > Add New from your dashboard (the same way you added the WooCommerce plugin in Step 1).
WooCommerce offers an Extensions Library where you can find both free and premium enhancements for your online store:
You can also find WooCommerce-related plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory. Also, as you might recall, Barn2 creates WooCommerce-specific plugins that can help extend the functionality of your site.
With so many consumers purchasing products and services online rather than in-person, there has never been a better time to move your business online. While it may feel overwhelming, setting up an e-commerce platform on WordPress is actually relatively quick and easy.
In this post, we explained how to set up an online store for your WordPress site in five simple steps:
- Install and activate your e-commerce plugin, such as WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads.
- Run the setup wizard to configure your store settings and payment method.
- Add products to your store.
- Select and customize your online store theme.
- Choose extensions to enhance the functionality of your online store.
Do you have any questions about setting up an online store in WordPress? Let us know in the comments section below!