Turn your WordPress site into an online store with WooCommerce

If you run a successful WordPress site, the logical next step for you may be to begin selling goods and services online across your site.

The good news is WordPress has a fantastic eCommerce platform called WooCommerce which allows you to do just that, and it's super-simple to use.

In this article we'll walk you through what WooCommerce is, how you can begin using WooCommerce with WordPress, and some of the finer points of retailing online using WooCommerce you can take advantage of to begin piling on those sales.

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce in its simplest form is a free Open Source eCommerce plugin for WordPress which allows you to sell products online.

Just like any other plugin available for WordPress, WooCommerce is designed to integrate seamlessly into the WordPress backend providing you with a familiar and easy-to-use user experience.

With WordPress now powering more than 30% of all websites online, WooCommerce is actually a "really big deal", especially when you consider that chances are if someone is selling something on their WordPress site, it's most likely using WooCommerce.

As WooCommerce themselves will tell you; WooCommerce is designed to help you "Sell anything, anywhere", just like in this cool video produced by the team at Woo. So if you're wondering what's the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to get up and running and selling items on your site is, WooCommerce is pretty good bet.

How to install WooCommerce in your WordPress site

Having used WordPress for many years now, the easiest way to install plugins is by visiting the "Plugins" menu in the back-end of WordPress and clicking "Add New". From here you can simply search for "WooCommerce" and click to install.

When you've successfully installed WooCommerce you'll see a link to WooCommerce appear in the left-hand menu of the WordPress backend. This will indicate that you have installed WooCommerce, and the basic installation is ready for you to begin using.

Using WooCommerce: The Basics

If you haven't used Woo before, the good news is that it's really easy to get up and running with and begin selling products.

The first thing you'll want to do is visit the "Settings" menu under the main WooCommerce menu. This section is where you set your Store Address, General Options and Currency settings. All these elements are required for you to operate a basic eCommerce instance using Woo.

Next, you'll want to familiarise yourself with the WooCommerce menu structure. This includes the following menus:

Each of these menu items are useful when conducting an eCommerce business, but if you're like most people, you're going to want to start loading in products, so take a quick look at these menu items and move on to the "Products" menu which appears at the same level as WooCommerce in the WordPress left-hand menu.

Adding products in Woo is actually something that's really fun. Because each product has the potential to earn you a great deal of income, it's exciting to add new products as your mind dreams about "what may be".

In WooCommerce there are a number of product types you can add. This includes:

For this purpose of this example, we're going to configure a "Simple product". To do so, you'll want to add in the following details under the 'Product Data' section:

These details, along with a detailed product name, description and image are all that's needed to publish your product online. So when your listing is ready, just click 'Publish' and your product will be visible to the public.

How to "power up" your WooCommerce installation

Because WooCommerce is part of the ever-growing WordPress plugin directory, that doesn't mean you can't extend it with some killer plugins to make it an even better service. You just need to know which plugins have the most impact.

Below we've compiled a list of some really fantastic WordPress plugins you can use to improve not only your product listings on WooCommerce, but your SEO and ease of which you can use Woo to your advantage:

SKU Searching

One of the things which really surprised me when I first started using WooCommerce was that natively it does not allow you to search by SKU numbers in your product listing!

To fix this simply download the Search by SKU plugin from the plugin directory and you'll be able to find those pesky products you just can't remember the name of.

Optimising your products for Google (aka SEO)

One of the most effective ways to drive more sales across your website is by providing to-the-point product titles, product descriptions, and optimising your page content for one or two key search terms which you would like your customers to locate you in Google.

If this all sounds like technical witchcraft, trust me it's not. A proper Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy can make you many thousands of extra dollars in sales, so don't discount it!

To help out, there's a great SEO plugin for WordPress you can use with Woo called Yoast SEO. This free plugin is a helper-plugin that will show you how to craft your on-page text for best practice results that will hopefully drive you more potential customers.

Choosing a payment gateway that works with Woo

Whether you're working with WooCommerce or any other eCommerce service, you'll come to learn that although the providers of a particular payment gateway say their payment gateway integrates seamlessly with your eCommerce service, it often doesn't.

This is not the case with Stripe. This payment gateway is widely used because of it's ease of use and provides a really strong set of payment options which are super easy to configure. Therefore, if you're looking to process payments on your WooCommerce store (because why wouldn't you?), we almost always recommend Stripe as our #1 pick.

Add a touch of professionalism to your invoicing

If you've ever received a really professional-looking PDF invoice from an online vendor, you've not taken much notice. That being said, sub-consciously you probably have noticed when you've received a really dodgy looking one.

To fix this, try out WooCommerce PDF Invoices. This plugin is purpose-built to assist you to provide simple, branded PDF invoices to your customers for all your transactions, and is more than enough to ensure you maintain a professional standard in your online business.

Trading in multiple countries? Go multilingual.

If you've ever run an eCommerce store, chances are you've had customers from more than one country, or at least fielded the odd enquiry from overseas. That being said, if you're running an eCommerce site that is targeting countries of different native tongue, then you may want to consider adding a plugin such as MultilingualPress.

This plugin will allow you to change all text-based content on your site to any number of languages ensuring your audience can transact in a language of their preference boosting the chances of a sale on your WordPress site.

WooCommerce reporting is a must

Online more than and other sales channel, there's an almost limitless number of ways you can extract data from your customers' behaviour, transactions and on-site behaviour to improve your eCommerce sales.

Woo by default comes out-of-the-box with a really nice order reporting system which allows you to report on your sales as shown below, but when it comes to optimising your online store, it's not just about understanding your performance, it's understanding how to increase it that really matters.

WooCommerce reporting

If you're not too technical, the good news is there a number of reporting tools you can use learn more about your customers on Woo. The obvious first choice is Google Analytics for WooCommerce which is a really great plugin built by Google that allows you to easily implement event tracking to better understand your customers' journey.

If you're looking to amp things up a little, you may be interested in testing out a heat-mapping and confetti tool such as Crazy Egg that allows you to see where you users are clicking on your pages. This is a really useful tool and one that can help shape your user experience design to better funnel your customers through to check-out and a hopefully more sales.

Crazy Egg - Confetti Mapping

Conclusion

WooCommerce is a fantastic service and a really great way to turn your WordPress site into a fully-fledged eCommerce store.

Because WooCommerce is part of the extremely extensive WordPress plugin ecosystem, the majority of the major software vendors have built plugins to work with Woo, meaning that adding well-built software to encourage sales is relatively easy for an experienced web designer.

If you're looking to grow your WordPress site from a static site to include an eCommerce channel, feel free to drop us a line at OSE. We offer Brisbane's leading WooCommerce integration service and would be happy to assist.