The great thing about WordPress is that not only can you build a blog website on this platform, but you can also build an e-commerce website. Although there are a few different plugins out there, Woo Commerce is the best you’ll find that offers full e-commerce functionality that can be integrated into an existing site.
Woo Commerce is a free plugin that you can install on any WordPress site, that will integrate e-commerce functionality into your website. This means that if you have a site already you can add this plugin to fit with your current design. For example, say you have a blogging site about fashion and later down the line you decide to start selling your own clothing design. With Woo Commerce, you can start selling products on your site, without removing any of the existing content or changing the design of the site. All this plugin will do is add the necessary pages to your site, allow you to add products and select what payment methods are used on the site.
Setting up Woo Commerce
Setting up Woo Commerce is really straight forward on WordPress. The first thing you need to do is install the plugin, it’s just like installing any other plugin in WordPress, once you activate it you’ll be presented with the screenshot above.
The setup process is quite simple here, all of these steps will ask you for information such as what shipping costs you’ll implement, what payment methods you’ll use, where you’re located etc. Once you’ve got through this process you’re ready to start adding products.
The products section is very similar to adding a page or post. the only main difference is the “Product Data” section. This is where you deal with costs, variations, stock etc. Although this might seem quite complicated, it is actually very simple once you’ve added a few products. Below is a few features that you should consider.
Product Type – Here is where you select what type of product you are selling. If for example, you are selling one type chair, you could add this as a simple product. All you have to change here is the price and the stock limit if necessary. However if you’re selling this chair and it comes in a range of different colours and sizes, then you would need to set it up as a variable product.
Regular/Sale Price – This is where you set the price of your product. For any product to work live on the site, then you’ll need to set at least a regular price. depending on what product type you have, the price will be either located in the general settings or in the variations tab.
Attributes – If you are adding a product that has multiple colours, sizes etc. then you will need to set up a “variable product” Next head to the attributes section to add your different types. In the name field, add in the type of attribute it is such as colour, then in the value section, you would add the colours that you are selling the item in. (Red | Blue | Green | Purple).
Variations – After you’re done with the attributes, you need to head to variations to set the prices up for each. If your product’s price doesn’t change regardless of variation then you only need one with the option “any colour…” and set the price in here. However if your product’s price does change with each variation, then you will need to add multiple variations for each colour, setting the prices accordingly.
Shipping – Here is where you can add the weight and dimensions of your products as well as the shipping class used. This will help with grouping certain products into shipping costs.
A Few alternatives to Woo Commerce
There are other e-commerce plugin’s out there that are pretty good for what you need to run an online store. You may need to try and test a few of these to see which one will really suit you best.
Easy Digital Downloads – This again is a great plugin for setting up an e-commerce shop in WordPress, the difference with this one is exactly what the name suggests. For selling any kind of digital software, this is a really easy to set up and use. This just like woo commerce works with nearly every theme on WordPress and is extremely easy to add products to. There are also plenty of extensions that you can download to add complex pricing deals, payment methods etc. If you are only going to be selling digital items then this plugin is a real good choice for you, but anything else could start to get a little complicated.
Shopp – The shopp plugin is a pretty diverse e-commerce platform, that allows you to sell physical, digital and virtual stock. You can also set up a subscription based model with Shopp at no extra charge.
A benefit that might not seem too important is Shopp separates the tables in the database. The benefit for you is the product pages will load a bit faster for the users due to the database’s performance sorting the results quicker. However this doesn’t improve the overall speed of your website.
The only negatives with this platform is the support you receive from the free version. Unless you pay the $79 a year that Shopp is asking for then you are pretty much on your own when something goes wrong.
Shopify – This is a great option for those new to working with e-commerce and don’t want to be to overwhelmed with the setup process. Shopify is its own service that you can integrate with WordPress, Before explaining this any further however, there is a monthly cost to running a store through this platform which starts at $29 per month.
The benefits to working with this platform mean you aren’t actually setting up a traditional online store with payment methods and security features etc. Shopify will deal with all of these aspects themselves leaving you with the simple task of adding the products to your shop.
iThemes Exchange – iThemes interface is very easy to use and works well with the majority of WordPress themes. This again is aimed at selling digital products online, but you can also sell physical products on this platform as well.
The iThemes Exchange interface is quite simple to use, however when selling physical products it can be a little tricky, and it may take you a while to get a hang of. Another great benefit of this particular plugin is the free stripe add-on that you can use. If you want to use Stripe on other e-commerce platforms, you will have to use a 3rd party plugin to use the payment method.
If you’re using WordPress as your CMS, then you don’t have to look any further than Woo Commerce. The extremely easy and quick setup by no means takes away from how many features the plugin has, making it very appealing. There are a lot of e-commerce plugins out there and with WordPress and you can install as many as you’d like without it creating any sort of performance issue with your site.
I suggest you really take the time to think about what e-commerce plugin will benefit you the most and once you’re ready just make sure to uninstall any that you aren’t going to use. Although with that being said, I truly believe that you won’t find anything better than Woo Commerce to set up and manage an online store.