If you’ve ever wanted to build your own online store but didn’t know where to start, this guide is for you.
You’ll discover how you can have your very own e-commerce store up and running in just one hour thanks to WordPress and WooCommerce.
All you need is a computer, an Internet connection, and a few bucks to invest in some basic tools that will allow you to have a better store and more control over your business than if you were using third-party platforms like Shopify.
Basic Online Store Toolkit
In addition to a product (or products) to sell, in order to create your own online store, you’ll need a digital infrastructure.
These are the small investments I mentioned at the beginning of the tutorial.
- A hosting where to host your platform. My recommendation is SiteGround.
- Domain pointing to the hosting. You can also buy it from SiteGround, although Namecheap usually has cheaper domains than any other domain registrar.
- WordPress.org. Free content management platform.
- A theme for that WordPress. Although there are paid ones, there are also many quality free options.
- WooCommerce. Online store management platform, also free.
And that’s all.
A domain might cost you $10/$15 per year, while the hosting will range from about $180 per year.
But SiteGround always offers welcome offers, so your first year won’t cost you more than $40 (about $3 a month).
So creating your own online store and maintaining it for 1 year will cost you less than 1 hour and less than 50 dollars 🙂
A ridiculous investment compared to everything you can get in return.
How to install WordPress and WooCommerce on SiteGround
If you pick a different Hosting provider, the steps below will be slightly different, but equally simple.
In the case of SiteGround, after choosing a plan, you’ll need to define with which domain you’ll like to work
- A new one (that you’ll buy through SiteGround)
- An existing domain (if you bought it in another registrar like Namecheap)
If you choose the first option you won’t have to do anything else.
If you choose the second one, you’ll have to do an additional step: connect your SiteGround Hosting to your external domain.
But this is as easy as going to your registrar (in my case Namecheap) and specify that the DNS are SiteGround’s.
If you continue with the setup wizard, you’ll have to choose which application you want to run on your website.
As we are going to use WordPress and WooCommerce, that’s our choice!
Choose your email and password, and click on continue.
SiteGround will create everything for you 🙂
Installing a WordPress theme WooCommerce -compatible
Once your site is ready, log in from yourdomain.com/wp-admin (you can skip the SiteGround wizard and go directly to the WordPress admin panel)
It’s time to install a better theme than the default one.
So go to Appearance > Themes > search for, Install and Activate Astra.
Astra is a free theme (with some pro features available), and it’s the theme I’ll be using for this tutorial.
I recommend that you also install the Starter Templates plugin, as it will allow you to set a spectacular design on your web with a couple of clicks.
The method is similar, but you will have to look for it from the plugins section instead of Themes.
If you select now Starter Templates from the Appearance menu, you’ll be able to use the setup Wizard to pick a professional template.
There are several templates focused on eCommerce, for example, Plant Shop (free template) (the one I’ll be using in this tutorial).
These templates (and ~180 more) are unlocked if you buy the Astra Pro Essential Bundle.
Since we had already installed WooCommerce from SiteGround, we don’t have to do anything else, even some test products will have been added to your new site.
If you don’t follow this process using wizards and starter templates and would like to see how to do it step by step, see the following guide on how to start an online store from scratch.
Tweaking your online store
Thanks to SiteGround installing WooCommerce, and Astra installing a ready-to-use theme, you already have a fully functional online store!
However, there are a few things you need to modify to make it truly yours.
Starting with the products.
How to add your own products
If you go to your WordPress admin panel > Products > All products, you’ll see there all the ones the template has loaded for you.
You can delete them one by one with the “trash” option (1), or select them all and send them to the trash with the “bulk actions” selector (2).
When you are ready, you can start adding your own products using the “Add new” button (I’ll use a product from the template so you can see which fields you need to fill in).
The product name and description are self-explanatory, but this is not the only thing you’ll have to specify.
A little further down you will find many more fields to add more information about your product.
Starting with the product type.
There are different items that you can sell in your store.
- Simple product. Like if you are selling for instance a plant. Many of your products will be of this type, that’s why this is the default option.
- Grouped product. A combination of multiple products. Like a Gardener starter pack, with a plant, a watering can, and a book about gardening.
- If you choose this option, you’ll have to define which products are included in the group, so you’ll have to create them in advance.
- External or Affiliate product. If you are running a dropshipping / affiliate business, you can link here to the original store.
- Variable Product. Some products require variation, especially clothes, as the same t-shirt might have different colors or sizes.
There are some extra details that are mandatory to add to your product, such as the price.
But other metadata will vary depending on the type of product you have chosen. You will see it in the different tabs on the left.
- A simple product can be a physical or a virtual one, and if it’s the latter, you can even specify where the file is located for download.
- You can set an original price and a sale price from the General Tab.
- You can manage stock status from the Inventory Tab.
- Specify the size and weight of the shipment within the Shipping Tab.
- Don’t confuse this with product attributes (colors, size, material…) something you can include in the Attributes tab.
- You can even set cross-sells and upsells for your product from the Linked Products tab.
Don’t forget to keep scrolling on your product page to add other interesting details, such as the product photo, additional photos in the gallery, categories and tags…
One of the most important parts of your online store is, well, allowing your clients to pay you.
You’ll set this up from the WordPress admin panel > WooCommerce > Settings > Payment Tab.
There are many options to choose from, you just have to activate the ones you want and set them up.
Some, such as Stripe (the most recommended option), can be configured as easily as logging in with your account.
If you sell physical products, another very important configuration that you must set up in your online store is the shipping zones.
A shipping zone is a geographic region where a certain set of shipping methods are offered, and you can configure them also from the preferences.
Taxes and legal stuff
The most boring part, but which, according to your accountant, you will be required to set up.
This is something that can also be easily achieved from the preferences, within the general tab.
As you have seen, it’s relatively easy to get a small online store up and running, as WooCommerce will have created all the necessary pages for you (store, check out, cart…) this is something that is done through shortcodes.
If you want a more powerful online store, WooCommerce has hundreds of extra configurations to play with, either natively, or by using third-party extensions and plugins.
Coupon management, abandoned cart recovery, analytics, social media integration…
But these are more advanced options, which I only recommend you to start using once you have your online store up and running, and you are managing your first sales with ease.