If you want to build an ecommerce store, you have numerous options when it comes to creating one by using a CMS application. However, the most burning question is: Which CMS has the best support available on the web?
The answer is WordPress!
WordPress has the most active and helpful community on the web. You can get instant answers from experts all around the world, for free. It has become a powerful platform to build just about any kind of website.
WooCommerce is, by far, the best WordPress plugin to build an ecommerce store with over 4 million downloads and excellent support.
This tutorial will take you through on how to register your domain, selecting a server and setting up a simple ecommerce store on WordPress using the WooCommerce plugin. These are the six simple steps we will take, and I have defined them in detail in the article:
- Thinking of domain name and registering it
- Buying a Web Hosting Server
- Installing WordPress with WooCommerce
- Setup a WooCommerce Store
- General Configuration of WooCommerce
- Customizing Theme Options
- Adding New Products
Step 1: Thinking of domain name and registering it
Coming up with a domain name, or in most cases, the name of your ecommerce business can be tough, considering how saturated the online space has become. To make it easy, a simple checklist will help you decide on what you will call your ecommerce store. I’ll assume you know the products you are going to sell, so I am just going to list the general things you need to think of.
1- First off, know who you are competing against in the local and the international market. The last thing you would want is to engulf in trademark wars.
2- Secondly, think of a unique and short (but catchy), domain name that will be easier for people to memorize.
3- You must also decide whether your store will be known as a specialist in a certain category of products or you want to build a brand. A specialist store will have a domain name like “https://www.barstools.co.uk/” that is also considered as keyword rich domain and may attract targeted traffic from search engines (if done correctly).
4- Know your target audience! Know whether you will sell your products in your country, in a continent or go for global market domination. If you want to sell in a single country, for example in Australia, then your best option will be to go with a domain name ending with “.com.au” as it will be more favoured in rankings by search engines for Australian markets.
If you are going to sell in multiple countries, then you can invest in country wise domains like “store.co.uk” for targeting UK and “store.fr” for France and so on.
You can also go with general domains like .com, but finding .com domains is harder. You can find the list of entire TLDs on Wikipedia
5- If all the domain names you can think of are taken then think about the synonyms and combine them to make unique domain names.
After you have thought about the domain name, then you will need to register it. You should do this from a reputable domain registrar, you can do a Google search like “domain name registration, ” and you will see some popular registrars in the top ten results.
Step 2: Buying a Web Hosting Server
After getting done with domain registration, you need to look for a reliable web hosting service that could take care of your ecommerce store data. You should probably look for hosting providers with scaling services because you will be looking to grow your ecommerce store in the future. Scaling will also help you take care of sudden traffic surges to your ecommerce store. For this purpose (and many other reasons), we recommend Cloudways to host your ecommerce store.
Step 3: Installing WordPress with WooCommerce
Cloudways has built an amazing cloud hosting platform that comes with fully configured DigitalOcean, GCE and AWS EC2 servers. Each server comes preconfigured with Linux, PHP, Nginx, Varnish, Apache, MySQL and Memcache. From a long time, we kept on receiving an extraordinary number of requests from our customers, asking us to add WooCommerce as a separate application. And, we listened and went a step further.
Cloudways not only added WooCommerce as a separate application but also made Varnish compatible with WooCommerce.
Sign up on Cloudways
Sign-Up with Cloudways. Become a part of Cloudways through an easy sign-up process. Verify your account, and you are now in.
A Friendly Advice
You should launch at least a 1GB DigitalOcean server for WooCommerce based stores as you have the option to easily scale up to higher DigitalOcean servers or take it to AWS or GCE servers in case the need arise. After launching, you need to point your domain to Cloudways’ server. You can follow this KB to know how to do it.
Select WordPress with WooCommerce
Once you login to the Cloudways Platform, you will be asked to select an Application which is WordPress with WooCommerce.
Choose DigitalOcean Web Services
Select DigitalOcean Cloud from the choice of available Cloud providers.
Secondly, you need to select the server specifications for your website. To run a decent WooCommerce store, we recommend you select at least 1 GB DigitalOcean server or above.
Choose Data-Center Location
Select the nearest location of your data center for perfect latency.
Done with the details. Click Launch and Viola! Your WooCommerce store on Cloudways is now launched.
It will take around 5 minutes to setup a dedicated server based on your selection.
After the server is finished setting up, navigate to Application Management tab. There you will find login details for your newly installed WordPress with WooCommerce.
Step 4: Setup a WooCommerce Store
Now that you have a fresh WooCommerce running on your Cloudways server, you will need to customize it by adding products, payment details and customizing the theme.
WooCommerce automatically creates the following pages:
- Shop Page: It is the product listing page. It is usually kept as the home page of an ecommerce store.
- Cart Page: It is the page that shows selected products by a customer.
- My Account Page: It is the page for customers to manage their accounts.
- Check out Page: It is the page where the sales are finalized.
For this, you need to make sure your theme is WooCommerce compatible. On Cloudways, each new WooCommerce install comes with a preinstalled Storefront theme by WooThemes.
Searching an ecommerce theme
If you wish to change the theme of your ecommerce store to something else then you can search for a new theme by navigating to WP Admin -> Appearance -> Themes -> Add New -> Search themes. The easiest way to find an ecommerce theme for free is by searching the keyword “commerce”. For this tutorial, we are going to install Storefront Paper as an example.
Step 5: General Configuration of WooCommerce
WooCommerce is feature rich. It really converts a plain-vanilla WordPress site into a full-fledged ecommerce store. However, we need to set specifications to give the best shopping experience. For this, navigate to WP Admin -> WooCommerce -> Settings.
On the first screen, you will see General Options section. Here you can set what is the base location of your store (where products are taxed based on your selected location) and which countries you are selling to. By default, it is set to “Sell to all countries,” but you can specifically choose countries for your sales activity.
You should also set your preferred currency here.
In the next settings tab called Products, there are various options for how products will be displayed on your website. Basic settings will be as shown in the picture. You can always change these settings to your liking.
In this settings tab, you can set whether you will enter prices inclusive or exclusive of taxes and also enable and disable tax calculations.
Under this settings tab, you can define how the checkout process on your ecommerce store will play out.
Generally, you will need to set the “Cart Page” as “Cart” and “Checkout Page” as “Checkout”. Also, on this page, you can select which payment options you would like to make available to your customers.
On this tab, you can control all the shipping preferences of your ecommerce store. If you are selling physical products then definitely you will need to ship them to your customers too.
Here you need to set the page where the customers can check their accounts. By default, the My Account page is set.
You also need to let new customers register accounts on your website. For this, you should make sure your registration options are configured as shown in the picture below.
This is the tab where you can set the email address that will be used to send notifications to your customers.
(Also check out: The 3 Email Addons From Cloudways)
Step 6: Customizing Theme Options
Now that your WooCommerce plugin is all set, you will need to work on how your website looks. We can access theme options by navigating to WP Admin -> Appearance -> Customize. Under these options, you can set various options for your website.
If you want to make front page to appear as main store page, then select “Front page” as “Shop.”
Step 7: Adding New Products
Once the WooCommerce plugin is activated, a new option appears in the WP Admin called “Products”.
This is a custom post type. This is used to add new products, categories, tags, attributes, and much more. Navigate to WP Admin -> Products -> Add Product.
When adding a new product, you will have access to all the options, like product name, description, pricing, shipping, stock details, etc.
All bases covered!
This blog post covers all the basic requirements of creating a WordPress ecommerce website by using WooCommerce. These are good enough to get you going if you are setting up a small venture. However, if you think I have missed something in this tutorial, do let me know in the comments section below.
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