Why WooCommerce might be the best fit to start selling online
Numbers and interesting stats for Woocommerce
There are over 4 million active websites enabled with woocommerce as of 2018.
According to Built With, the 2018 market share for WooCommerce is at a staggering 42%
In 2018, WooCommerce has near 330 extensions and over 1,000 plugins.
History of woocommerce
WooCommerce was first developed by WordPress theme developer WooThemes and was launched in 2011. In May 2015, WooThemes and WooCommerce were acquired by Automattic, operator of WordPress.com and core contributor to the WordPress software. Since launch, Woocommerce became insanely popular being free and open source, commanding a lion’s share of the ecommerce stores market and has been a go-to solution for start-ups and small businesses. We have tried to answer some of the major questions asked by people about Woocommerce, as below :
Is Woocommerce the right choice for me?
It is a bit tricky answering this question as it would certainly depend on a number of things. I have put down few points that would help you drive home the decision:
- You are bootstrapped and are hands-on
Woocommerce is free to install and use like WordPress. There are a number of paid plugins to enhance your store, but you can still get off ground with a decent store using a bunch of free plugins and the out of the box Woocommerce features curbing costs. Also getting the store up yourself is a great learning experience which would prepare you for SEO and store optimization in future.
Woocommerce allows for extensive customization just like WordPress which allows you to provide a very unique experience to you users. Obviously you might need some programming help for some of the advanced changes, but still you could use a combination of different plugins to help your store stand apart.
- Absolute Control
WooCommerce gives you total control over your store as you can pick every feature to include, every setting to configure, and the freedom of choice for hosting.
- Leverage OpenSource
You do not want to reinvent the wheel trying to start from scratch. You name a feature for your ecommerce store and it is more than likely that there is a Woocommerce plugin that does it. Also it wouldn’t make sense or be feasible to create something from ground up, when you have a free, tested, widely supported framework already out there.
- Flexibility and the freedom of infrastructure
So if you do not want to be tied in to a vendor and would prefer to manage your online store’s infrastructure yourself, then Woocommerce is a great choice. You have the flexibility to choose a hosting vendor that fits your bid and allocate server resources that you see fit, than being boxed by a subscription plan with a hosted store provider.
How to set up Woocommerce ?
Step 1: Assess hosting
You start with assessing your current hosting vendor or look at a WordPress friendly hosting, in-case you aren’t using one already. It is ideal to use a vendor that is known to be WordPress ready, as in most of the cases the server would be optimized for WordPress with respect to security, performance and the ease to set-up.
We have written about some of the good WordPress friendly hosting vendors out there, in one of our blogs which can be accessed at Hosting for WordPress.
Step 2: Install WooCommerce
Once you have the server host pinned down and have set your mind on Woocommerce as your e-commerce store, the next step is to set up the store. You need to download and install the Woocommerce plugin. The steps are as follows:
- Go to your WordPress admin panel.
- Click on ‘Plugins’ from the menu on the left hand side of the admin panel.
- Click on Add New.
- Search for Woocommerce, Install it and activate the plugin.
Once you’ve installed and the plugin is activated, you’ll come to the WooCommerce setup wizard. Click on ‘Let’s Go’ to get started. The Woocommerce setup wizard will automatically create shop, cart, checkout, and user account pages for your store. Then, it will take you to the screen where you can configure your store’s basic settings, including what currency you would support on your store.
Next up, you can choose whether you would want to charge a sales tax, and if you’re going to require any shipping related features on your store:
Last but not the least, you can configure which payment methods you want to accept. WooCommerce supports PayPal and Stripe out of the box, and so if needed you can add further gateways using extensions. But obviously the choice of the payment vendor would also depend on the transaction and monthly fees (if any) charged by the vendors. So would be a good idea to read up on the different vendors and do an assessment of the long term as well as the short terms benefits, based on the expected volume of sales, long term business roadmap etc.
At this step, we’re kind-off ready to add our first product. However, there’s still one last thing to cover before going live.
Step 3: Select a theme for your store
The themes for WordPress are abundant in supply so you will be spoiled for choice, but you just need to be extra careful to pick a WooCommerce specific theme . As it is geared to work specifically with the platform offering features, functionality, and design options tailored to creating your store.
So now we’ve set up WooCommerce and decided on a suitable theme, the next step is to add your first product.
Step 4: Add your first WooCommerce product
To get started, go to your WordPress Admin Panel and look for the new ‘Product tab’. Clicking on it will bring up a new page with the option to add your first product.
Click on the purple button on the screen, and you’ll find yourself in front of the WordPress editor. So starting with the basics, set a name and a description for the product.
Now scroll down to the Product Data widget, and check the Virtual box if your product isn’t physical. If not, leave the default settings as they are, and proceed to set a price for your item.
If you are adding a regular product, you would also want to include its dimensions and weight under the Shipping tab, located right below.
You need to add a featured image for the product, and include any other relevant photographs in its respective gallery. To do that, you’ll have to use the Product Image and Product Gallery meta boxes, to the right of Product Data.
Upload all of the images you’ll need, then hit the Publish button at the top of the page.
So that’s it, you are done. Simple enough right?
What are the probable costs of setting up Woocommerce?
Since it is open source Woocommerce is completely free to download, but said that, the open source solution would provide you the basic platform for your store and you will eventually have to download a set of plugins so that you get access to some of the more advanced capabilities to run an online store efficiently. And as you might have already guessed, there is an associated cost with most of the plugins.
We have listed down 9 free plugins essential for Woocommerce and their paid advanced counterparts, that you might need while using Woocommerce with your WordPress website.
- WooCommerce Analytics, CRM, and Email Automation Plugin
As you might have already guessed from the title, this would help in monitoring your store’s performance, optimize your marketing spend and improve the customer engagement. The plugin would help in tracking KPI’s, gauge marketing channel effectiveness, customer profiling, email marketing etc.
Free Plugin : A combination of Enhanced Ecommerce Google Analytics, WP-CRM System, SumoMe. (The base packages are free)
Paid Plugin : Metrilo WooCommerce Analytics, CRM, and Email Automation.
- WooCommerce Product Filter Plugin
This enables the visitors to apply various filters so that they can find the product segment they are looking for very easily. The users could use any combination of admin-defined criteria for product filters.
- Conversion Optimization Plugin for Woocommerce
In simple terms conversion optimization is basically ensuring that the maximum number of visitors coming to your site end up buying from you.
- WooCommerce Plugin to add Multilingual Capabilities
This allows you to translate your product and other WooCommerce pages into a variety of different languages so that you can cater to a global audience, allowing your customers to engage with your website in their preferred language.
- Woocommerce CSV Importer Plugin
This plugin just cuts the hassle around importing your products and the related data into your Woocommerce store, especially helpful if you have a big number of products and attributes. You could import attributes, variable products, premium, taxonomies and custom fields.
- WooCommerce Currency Switcher Plugin
If you plan to sell across the globe or in multiple countries, it would make sense to show your product or service cost in the native currency of your website visitor. Currency switcher plugins allows you to switch to different currencies and convert prices in real time.
- WooCommerce Product Slider Plugin
WooCommerce Products Slider facilitates easy and quick creation of pretty product sliders and carousels which would help you grab the website visitor’s attention. Slider are know to be effective for showcasing focus products, specials, offers etc.
- Social Media Marketing Plugin for Woocommerce
Creating a Woocommerce store is just the first step towards generating online revenue and unless you get the word out, no one would know your store exists. Social Media marketing plugins allow you to leverage the social networks to help promote your products or services to a very wide audience and start engaging potential customers to build brand awareness.
Paid Plugin : Around.io.
- Dynamic Pricing and Discounts Plugin
This WooCommerce extension enables Woocommerce store admins to easily deploy dynamic prices and discounts at different levels, including but not limited to ; product, combination, category, and cart.
Woocommerce being such a versatile platform and being Open Source, it isn’t a surprise that more than 42% of the stores on the internet run on Woocommerce. But obviously Woocommerce isn’t meant for a hands-off person but is definitely is the best fit for someone who wants total control, get off-ground fast and provide a very unique experience to their store visitors.
We hope this covers most of your questions about Woocommerce, if not drop us a message and we will make best efforts to get you the information you need.
You can also read our blog ‘ Starting an ecommerce store for your business ‘ to look at the basics of setting up an ecommerce store.