Do you have a WordPress website and want to turn it into an online store? Or maybe you start from scratch and are looking for a practical, easy and free solution to start your ecommerce?
Then you are in the right place! In this guide I am going to teach you how to create an online store in WordPress using the Woocommerce plugin.
With this tutorial you will learn, step by step, to master this tool and you will also be able to see its advantages and disadvantages compared to other systems, such as PrestaShop or Shopify.
Index [ Show ]
1.- What is Woocommerce?
WooCommerce is a free plugin that allows you to turn any blog or website made with WordPress into an online store.
This tool is translated into 55 languages and it is estimated that, with more than a million active installations, a third of online stores worldwide work with it.
Its easy implementation, its flexibility, its customization capacity and the large number of extensions that can complement it, some free and others paid, make Woocommerce one of the favorite platforms for entrepreneurs who want to sell online, whether they are physical or digital products. .
2.- How to install Woocommerce?
Woocommerce installation is as simple as any other WordPress plugin. We go to the Plugins section, in the left sidebar and click on “Add new”.
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Next, next to “Keyword” we will write “Woocommerce” and we will hit the “Intro” or “Return” button. The plugin we are looking for will appear the first of a long list of extensions that add functionalities and benefits.
Now we give the button “Install now” and then “Activate”, as always. At that moment, the Woocommerce configuration wizard opens automatically:
From that first screen you will be able to specify in which country your store is located, its physical address if it has one, the currency with which you are going to operate, if you are going to sell physical, digital or both types of products, and even if you plan to do it in person.
You also have the option to dismiss the assistant’s help.
If we continue with it, on the next screen we can establish the payment methods with which we are going to work.
Do not worry if you are still not sure, or in the future you will incorporate some more, since they can be installed later without any problem.
If you have activated Stripe and / or Paypal, the WooCommerce Stripe Gateway and PayPal payment gateway for WooCommerce plugins will automatically be installed in your WordPress.
The next step is to set up the delivery systems. By default, two payment areas have been created (editable later): one for the country where your store is located, in our case Spain; and another for the rest of the world.
In each of them you can choose a fixed rate of the cost you want or free shipping.
If you want to offer live rates from a specific carrier, such as UPS, you can find a wide variety of extensions available for WooCommerce.
Finally, on this screen you will determine the unit that you are going to use for the weight and dimensions of your products.
Next, Woocommerce recommends some plugins for you. If you are not sure that you are going to use them, better click to avoid their automatic installation. At the end of the day, you will always have the possibility to add them at any time.
Once again, on the next screen, they insist on adding the Jetpack plugin for additional features such as protecting your store from unauthorized access, obtaining statistics, receiving alerts in case of server failures and promoting products on social networks at the moment. in which they are published.
What has been said before, the decision is yours, but keep in mind that Jetpack is a plugin that is quite heavy.
We have already completed the wizard and we are ready to start selling. From the last screen we have shortcuts to go to review settings, customize the store or directly create or import products.
3.- How to configure Woocommerce?
If we go to the WordPress dashboard we will check that Woocommerce is already installed and has its own menu on the left:
We are going to see, section by section, how to configure the Woocommerce parameters.
The orders you receive through your online store will appear on this screen. You can also add by hand:
In this section you can create discounts and rewards for your customers to retain them.
After giving a name and, if you wish, a description to your coupon, you can choose the amount of it and the type of discount you are going to offer (fixed in the cart, in the product or in percentage), as well as if you want to include free shipping. Also from there you can give it an expiration date.
In the “Restriction of use” tab you can configure characteristics of the coupon such as the minimum or maximum spending, if you can use it in combination with others or not, if you want to exclude the products on sale.
You also have the option to include or exclude certain products or categories from the promotion.
In “Limits of use” you will set the total number of uses of the coupon and how many times the same customer can use it.
We now go to the “Reports” section, where you can check statistical graphics about your orders (sales by date, category, coupons or downloads), see the list of customers and their orders, and monitor your inventory (check which products have more stocks, those that are almost out of stock and those that are out of stock).
All this for the most common time periods (year, month, week, day) or personalized. You can also download them in a CSV format document.
In this section we have up to seven configuration screens for different aspects of our online store.
In the first, “General”, if we did not do it at the time with the initial assistant, we can indicate the physical address of our business; in which countries we are going to sell and ship; determine the customer’s default location and activate taxes and coupons.
We will also set the currency in which the prices of our catalog will appear and with which the payments of the orders will be made, as well as their display options.
In the “Products” tab we will choose which of all our pages will be the front page of our store, the one in which the products of our catalog will be archived.
The message with a link that appears just below tells us that we can assign a personalized base that will always be in the permanent links of our products. By default, if you don’t change it, it will be the word “product”.
Continuing with the settings in this section, we can decide how we want our store to act when someone adds an item to the shopping cart, and the default placeholder image that we want for products that do not have it.
Also from here, if you have not done it before, you can specify the units of measurement and weight, and finally, the configuration of the ratings and reviews of your products.
The next subsection, within “Products”, is “Inventory”. By default the management of our product catalog is activated. Whether deactivating it or not, we can hide items out of stock in the catalog and control how the inventory quantities are displayed in the store.
The most common thing will be to have it activated, so that we can establish who will receive the notifications of products with low stocks (including the setting of the threshold from which the notification will be made via email) or those that are out of stock.
We will also determine how long the inventory will be kept for the products that are in the shopping cart in the absence of payment, or if we do not want those pending orders to be canceled after the given period.
Finally, in “Downloadable Products” we will establish the download system for this type of article and we will be able to indicate the access restrictions to them.
We now go to the “Shipping” tab, which in turn has three sections.
The first one is “Shipping Zones” and we saw it earlier with the setup wizard. It is simply the place where you will indicate the regions where your online store will work and their respective shipping systems.
The second, “Shipping options”, allows you to activate the shipping calculator during the purchase or hide these expenses until the customer enters their address.
In the same way, you can decide if the shipment will be made by default to the shipping or billing address of each buyer.
The third tab, “Shipping Classes”, is used to group similar products and set different rates for each set.
In “Payments” you will see listed all the payment methods enabled in your store. From there you can configure and manage each of them, deactivate them and order them as you want them to be displayed in your store.
From “Accounts and privacy” we will establish our preferences on customer permissions when buying and the creation and / or deletion of their user accounts in the store.
In “Emails” we will choose the recipients of the email notifications that the plugin will issue for each action registered by our online store.
In the same way, we will indicate the name and email of the sender. We can also customize email templates to match the image of our ecommerce.
The last of the “Settings” tabs is “Advanced” and in it we find, in turn, four sections.
In the first one, “Installation of pages”, the pages to which customers will be directed to make their purchase are defined. You can choose your own page or the one that the plugin itself creates by default for each action (cart, payment, my account).
You also have the option to customize the variables of the url of each page related to the completion of the purchase and those of the specific actions on the account pages.
From the next section, “REST API”, you can create keys to authorize external applications to access your store data safely.
In the next tab we can enable “Webhooks”, which will allow us to send information in real time to other applications.
Finally, in legacy API you can activate the REST API to be able to interact with the applications to which you have created and provided a key.
This menu item has four sections and all of them will give us an x-ray of the state of our online store at a technical level.
In “System status” we can review the data of the WordPress environment and the server, the database, a content type counter, security, active plugins, settings, Woocommerce pages and the details of the theme and the templates used.
All this information can be useful to locate errors or to provide it to support services when something fails.
“Tools” is like having a closet full of cleaning supplies. From here you can delete, clean, order and regenerate different aspects of your online store, which will result in a better functioning of it and will save you work in certain tasks.
In “Registry” you have access to the logs of your website, to review the activity of your system and your programs, and see possible errors.
In “Scheduled Actions” (to know why this is not translated) the possible actions scheduled on our website are collected.
Woocommerce has a large number of complementary plugins or extensions. From this section you can search for them by categories (marketing, type of products, shipments, store management) or directly by their name.
Some are free but most are paid.
If you want to know the best Woocommerce extensions , click on the link to read another article where I analyze more than 30 that will help you add even more functionalities to your online store, increase your sales and retain your customers, among other objectives.
Finally, in the “Woocommerce Subscriptions” tab, you are invited to register on the Woocommerce website and thus receive news and updates and manage your purchased extensions.
Just below the Woocommerce tab you will see that you have another one called “Products”. From there you can create tabs for the items you are going to sell, or import them from a CSV file.
If we click on “Add new” it opens a window that is very similar to creating a post.
After naming it and selecting the category in which it will be housed, we have to fill in a lot of other information. First, choose whether it is a simple, bundled, external / affiliate or variable product; virtual or downloadable.
You will indicate its price and, where appropriate, its reduced price and in what period of time this discount will be active.
You also have a specific form for managing the inventory of that item and another on the type of shipment.
You can also define directed or cross-sales by selecting linked products that will appear as suggestions on the tab.
In “Attributes” you can add the ones you want (sizes, colors, etc.), while from “Advanced” you can add notes to send to the customer after the purchase of that specific product, customize their order in the menu and activate the evaluations .
Finally, the editor allows you to include a short description of the product, which will appear next to the image and the price and which is a short text in which you must condense the main advantages of the article.
You can also, from the same screen in the area on the right, add labels, an image of the product and even create a photo gallery.
The next section is “Categories”, where you can create product categories, indicating its name, its slug, the parent category (if it has one), its description, its details, the type of display and its thumbnail .
You can also delete them and order them to your liking, in addition to checking with a simple glance the exact number of products that each one contains.
In “Labels”, the same is true. Although the usual thing will be that you create the labels when adding your products, you can also do it from here and manage the existing ones.
In “Attributes”, finally, you will define and manage the distinctive data of each product, such as size or color.
You can also configure interesting parts of your online store from Appearance – Customize.
The screen it takes you to incorporates two specific sections once you have installed the plugin: “Woocommerce” and “Main page of the store”.
The changes you make here will be seen in test mode on the right and will be collected in the store once you give it to publish.
From the “Woocommerce” section we will be able, first of all, to activate a notice throughout the store. It will appear at the bottom and will be used to carry out promotions or disseminate events.
The second section is “Product Catalog” and in it we will choose what we want to show on the main page of the store: products, categories or both.
We will also determine the criteria by which the items in the catalog will be sorted by default (popularity in sales, average valuation or ascending or descending price).
Another option is to set the number of products that will be seen in each row, and how many rows will be displayed on each page.
In “Product images” we will set the width of the main image on the product pages, and also the size for the thumbnails of the items in your catalog.
The clipping of these thumbnails can be by frame, personalized or with the aspect ratio with which they were uploaded.
In the tab “Main page of the store” we will choose the categories and number of products to show in each of the sections of the home of our ecommerce.
In “Appearance-Widgets” you can also use Woocommerce own widgets for the sidebar and / or the footer of your website, if the template you use allows it. You have, for example, a product search box, another box with the categories and the option to display the shopping cart in the sidebar.
4.- Woocommerce shortcodes
A very interesting aspect of Woocommerce is the use of shortcodes. With these codes we can display articles at our discretion on any page or post.
It will be enough to put [product id = ”XX”] where XX is the product identifier, and it will be displayed with its name, price, photo and add to cart button, wherever we have included that shortcode:
We can also use the SKU instead of the id. Just change the id variable to sku.
In the same way, we have the option of showing not only the product file, but the entire page of it. The shortcode in this case would be [product_page id = ”XXX”] .
What do you want to show multiple products? Without any problem. Here are more shortcodes:
- [products ids = ”XX1, XX2, XX3 ″] – The 3 products XX1, XX2 and XX3 will be seen.
- [recent_products] – Shows the latest products.
- [featured_products] – List of featured products.
- [sale_products] – List of discounted products.
- [best_selling_products] – The best selling products.
- [top_rated_products] – The highest rated products.
- [related_products] – List of related products.
We can also display categories themselves instead of products or a list of categories. Even add to cart buttons.
The possibilities of shortcodes are multiplied much more, since they can be displayed based on the product attributes that you have created.
To avoid making a long list of options here and, above all, because it is much more convenient to use, I recommend that you install the Woocommerce Shortcode plugin.
Once installed and activated, in the editing toolbar of each page or post we will have a Woocommerce button that will allow us to choose what exactly we want to show, based on all the variables available in our online store.
5.- Woocommerce comparison with Shopify and Prestashop
You have already been able to see what Woocommerce offers and how it works. If at this point you still have doubts about which is the best solution to set up your online store, below you will be able to read an analysis of the pros and cons that Woocommerce presents compared to Shopify and Prestashop , the other two major platforms.
We are going to do it for points that you should always keep in mind when planning your online business:
5.1. Interface and ease of use
Woocommerce is a plugin, so it has no mystery for anyone used to working with WordPress. Its learning curve is also very easy even for those who are not. Shopify is perhaps somewhat more intuitive and better organized, and in the tail wagon at this point we find a rather cumbersome PrestaShop.
If you plan to work on the SEO of your online store, the possibility of optimizing certain elements of the hosting , with a view to factors such as loading and response speed, is very important, so here we are left with WordPress and PrestaShop. In both, unlike in Shopify, which being a payment platform includes hosting in the price, you can hire the server you want.
5.3. Price and commissions
The winner in this section is Woocommerce because, although it has paid extensions, it is a free plugin, just like WordPress. Sales commissions will be those imposed, where appropriate, by the payment gateways you choose.
PrestaShop is also free, but not its Ready version, which has a fixed monthly cost of 19.90 euros plus VAT (if you contract annually), in addition to charging you a commission from 3,000 euros of business volume on your website.
The same scenario, although even more expensive, offers Shopify, with a monthly fee of $ 29 in its cheapest plan and commissions per sale from the same launch of your store.
Here again, we have Woocommerce as the undisputed winner. It is true that you may need an additional plugin at any given time to add functionality to this free online commerce plugin for WordPress, but you will only pay for them once and quite reasonable prices.
The average cost of PrestaShop “addons” is much higher, while in Shopify the paid applications (which are the majority) will give you a monthly receipt for their use, which will increase your expenses significantly.
The three platforms present more than sufficient payment methods for customers. Now, having any of them can cost money.
It must be recognized that the payment configuration possibilities are broader in PrestaShop than in the rest (always without counting the possible plugins or add-ons). Of course, they can be overwhelming for users who do not require complex logistics.
If I have to choose, I’ll stick with the very numerous and customizable payment options for Woocommerce.
5.6. Product variants
At this point there can be little discussion about the superiority of PrestaShop, that if there is one thing it can boast of well, it is its arsenal of attributes, characteristics, combinations, packs and associations that it allows to establish in the products.
Another thing is that you are really going to need so much and that you are going to have the time necessary to work all those parameters well.
In my experience I will tell you that when I need a specific additional function in an online store, I prefer to look for a plugin in WordPress that implements it, to have an endless menu with, in turn, an infinite number of fields and forms to fill out. Time is money and you have to dedicate it to what is truly productive.
WordPress wins the street with the vast number of themes that exist for this platform and that is constantly increasing, with a large number of them free.
In PrestaShop you have a wide catalog, but most are paid, while Shopify here is a red lantern, with a very short range of templates.
Shopify and PrestaShop Ready, as payment platforms, offer very efficient customer service.
PrestaShop and WordPress do not have such a la carte personal support, but they do have powerful communities of users and developers. This means that you will rarely find answers to your questions or problems in blogs, forums, tutorials and YouTube videos.
What if you want to start your online adventure with an affiliate store, like a TSA ? Well, WordPress is so malleable that it allows you to sell in this way with plugins such as Amazon Affiliates WordPress or with Woocommerce itself, but also by dropshipping or by direct sales of your own products.
PrestaShop contemplates dropshipping if you install and use add-on modules, whereas Shopify doesn’t have that option, at least as far as I know.
5.10. Contents and SEO
WordPress is the king of content managers. As much as PrestaShop and Shopify take steps in the right direction, today they are not in a position to stand up to it.
Optimization for search engine optimization finds its best scenario in WordPress.
And the winner is…
A count of the rounds of this match to three throws us to Woocommerce as the winner. It is, in my opinion, the best solution for e-commerce.
My recommendation is that you bet on WordPress for your online adventures, whether they are online stores or blogs. Currently it is the simplest, customizable and cheapest platform with which you can work.
If you are clear, in the Digital Army I offer you a method to learn SEO and obtain financial freedom thanks to the passive income that you will generate with online projects created with WordPress.
And you do you think? What tool does your online store work with?