We’re passing our life into a pandemic situation. The coronavirus (COVID-19) reduced the demand for brick-mortar stores. Simultaneously, people are relying more and more on eCommerce stores to purchase the goods they need to survive.
At this moment it is a great time to talk about the process of building an eCommerce website. First, we’ll talk about how to build eCommerce site from scratch. Then, for those of you who already have a website, we’ll share some important tips for adding basic eCommerce functionality to your existing site.
The Most Popular eCommerce Platforms Available
WordPress is significantly helpful when you are building an eCommerce site. The platform also comes with many plugins that help in adding complete functionality to the eCommerce site. From the product display to the shopping cart and checkout process. And one of the powerful reasons to opt for WordPress is its flexibility.
The platform provides complete control of how your website should appear and what it does. Since WordPress is free to install, deploy, and upgrade, it cuts down the development costs and deployment time.
You can make use of the WordPress platform and avail these features without paying any continuous fees! Though WordPress is free to use, you have to pay a monthly charge for hosting your site and a small amount for the domain registration.
Check out the features of WordPress at a glance:
- Free to install.
- Highly scalable and Secured
- Lots of themes and plugins to choose (both free and paid)
- Easy customization options
- Varieties of customization options
- Easy to install for anyone
- Provides an easy to use interface
Now, let’s focus on How to build eCommerce site with WordPress.
Features To Look For In An eCommerce Solution
To start, every eCommerce plugin must offer the following features:
- The basic option of adding products to your website and selling them.
- The store functions should be easy to use, both by customers and site admins.
- Being responsive is no longer an option and so, your plugin needs to work well with smaller devices.
- The plugin must provide at least one option of receiving payments.
- Your eCommerce solution should be PCI DSS compliant (Payment Card Industry / Data Security Standard).
Other features you can look for support for metadata for each product, compatibility with your SEO plugin, inventory tracking, reporting, affiliate programs, pricing, etc.
How to Build an eCommerce Site with WordPress (9 Steps)
In this section, you’ll get the step-by-step guide to setting up an eCommerce store. Let’s begin!
Step 1: Choose your Domain Name and Hosting Plan
The first essential thing to build an eCommerce site is a domain and hosting.
This will become the address of your future website. A domain name is what you enter into the address bar of your browser to access a website.
While WordPress itself is free, you’ll need to pay for your domain name registration, which starts around the US $10 per year.
You will also need a good hosting provider, a service that will host your website on the Internet. By having a dedicated hosting provider, you’re assured that your website will load quickly and be secured.
You have the option of shared or dedicated hosting. With shared hosting, your website is on the same server as with other websites. It is cheaper but often provides you with less control over your website as well as potentially smaller storage and bandwidth availability. Meanwhile, dedicated hosting is more expensive, but gives your website a whole server exclusively for your use, and provides you a full degree of control, storage, and bandwidth.
Step 2: Install WordPress
After choosing your domain and hosting, you can now install WordPress. There are two ways to go about it:
In the one-click installation, you register your domain name and get your WordPress site hosted from the same hosting provider. WordPress recommends your host supports minimum PHP 7, MySQL v5.6+ or MariaDB v10.0+, and HTTPS.
You can also use trusted WordPress hosting providers, which will make installation easier and ensure that your chosen host is supported. WordPress itself recommends BlueHost, Dreamhost, Flywheel, and Kinsta.
With the manual option, you can set up a server manually, then install the WordPress on your server, and configure it. You’ll need to have an FTP client, a database set up through cPanel or phpMyAdmin, and access to your web server. It is recommended only for advanced users.
Step 3: Select an eCommerce Plugin
What is the difference between a standard WordPress website and an eCommerce website? Selling products directly from your site makes a difference. To add this functionality to the WordPress website, you need to install an eCommerce plugin.
WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, WP eCommerce are some of the free and paid plugins recommended by WordPress. These can help you build and organize product pages, and offer a shopping cart and checkout process.
WooCommerce is the most powerful eCommerce plugin that is FREE to install. It’s powered by over 30% of all online stores.
With just a few clicks, you can build a beautiful eCommerce store.
Easy Digital Downloads
Easy Digital Downloads is another eCommerce plugin that comes with all the features you need to sell digital products without hassle.
WP eCommerce is another eCommerce platform that is filled with WordPress plugin options. You can use it as a direct alternative to WooCommerce. The main reason for this is it’s set up is very similar to WooCommerce, including the dashboard interface and the other features.
Step 4: Install the eCommerce Plugin (WooCommerce)
So you have picked your eCommerce plugin for your site, and now it’s time for you to install it through WordPress backend. For example, if you have chosen the “ WooCommerce”, follow these simple steps.
1. Login to your WordPress dashboard.
2. Go to the “Plugins” and click on “Add New”.
3. In the search box type “WooCommerce” and press Enter.
4. Finally, click on “INSTALL NOW”.
Step 5: Select and Install a Theme for your eCommerce Site
WordPress comes with some free themes that can give your website a great look. The great thing about WordPress themes is that you can install them without any hassle and can also change/customize them according to your need.
These themes can only change the look and feel of the website. In case you’ve chosen a theme that’s readily available with WordPress then the only task you need to do is to install it. Here’s how you can install-
1. Login to your Dashboard and go to Appearance > Themes and then click on “Add New.”
2. Now, type the name of the theme that you want to install. After the complete installation, click on the “Activate” button that will appear in place of the “Install” button to activate.
Step 6: Create a Shop Page
We’re going to customize the shopping page for our WooCommerce WordPress website now.
WooCommece creates few default pages for you and the shopping page is one of them. If so, we don’t need to recreate the page but if not, then we have to make a new page and set the page in our WooCommerce settings.
Let’s go and check to see if we have to make a new page for our WordPress website.
- Go to your WordPress dashboard > hover over pages > click on All pages
- Check to see if there is a Shop page or not
- If not, go and create a page and give the title “Shop”
- Now go to your WooCommerce settings and click on the Products tab
- Set the shop page there
That’s all we have to do! Now it’s time to add products.
Step 7: Set up the Product Pages
So, you have installed the eCommerce plugin and suitable themes for your store. Now it’s time to add products and it’s respective pages.
Every plugin has different options to do this. We’ll cover the steps for doing this in WooCommerce.
Every product you add must have the following features and headings:
- Product name
- Product description
Login to your WordPress dashboard then select “Products” on the sidebar and click on “Add Product”.
WooCommerce allows you to add both physical and digital products to your store.
a) Adding physical products
You’ll get a similar type of page like publishing a blog post on WordPress. Insert your product name in the title field, and add a description where the post content would be. Then, add a product image for your product by clicking on the featured image. You can optionally add more images in the product gallery.
In the Product Data section, add more details about your product. Then you have to add the Product Type from the drop-down box, categories, and tags. To add Physical products, do the following:
- Simple: A product with no SKU options
- Grouped: Multiple similar products, which consist of several related “child” products, each of which is a Simple product
- Variable: A product with different SKUs, like shirts, t-shirts or shoes that have different size options
- External/Affiliate: Items sold outside of your online store
For the first time, let’s go with a Simple product.
You’ll also view “Virtual” and “Downloadable” checkboxes next to the Product Type. Leave these boxes unchecked for physical products.
b) Adding digital products
Digital products are products that are not sold physically, and downloadable products are downloaded from your store. Some products are both digital and downloadable, like ebooks.
Adding digital products features the same process as adding physical products for the most part. Only an exceptional part, with virtual products, you’ll check the “Virtual” or “Downloadable” boxes next to Product Type. When you select either option, you will lose the Shipping tab in Product Data.
For downloadable products, the General tab has more options:
- Downloadable files: Insert download links here for large files or files you’ve previously uploaded. Alternatively, click on the “Choose file” to upload a file.
- Download limit: Select the maximum number of times this file can be downloaded.
- Download expiry: Customers can only download the file for a certain period of time.
Other than these, the process remains the same for physical products.
After the Product Data option, you’ll get the Product Short Description. This will appear at the top of your product landing page. Your visitors will see this short description before the full description that you’ve already written.
Once this is done, click on “Update” and the product will be added.
There are a few things that you should keep in mind before adding products and categories
Create catchy product descriptions without simply copying the description from the product’s manufacturer. Limit the description to 150–250 words.
Your product name always be in the title bar while adding a product to the online store. You can take the help of SEO tools to figure out the best possible title for your product. Place your product under the right category and tag to give easier browsing experience to your customers.
Pick high-quality images for your products to attract and bring more customers.
Step 8: Choose a Payment Gateway
The last step of every shopping process is payment, be it offline or online. And WordPress will help you build your payment gateway completely. After opting for the checkout option from your store, the shopper is redirected to the payment gateway’s pages, where they enter financial information.
An online payment gateway authenticates the payment between the buyers and your eCommerce website. Payment gateway integration in your eCommerce site depends. If your business is new, easy, and simple integration could be the most effective way.
However, to effectively use the features of payment gateways, you’ll need to obtain an SSL certificate. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), also known as Transport Layer Security (TLS), is a protocol that ensures a safe and secure transfer of information over the Internet through cryptography.
Most of the web hosting provider provides an SSL certificate with a minimal cost.
There are a few things that you should remember before integrating a payment gateway to your eCommerce website.
Every payment gateway charges a certain percentage of fee per transaction. Check out the service charges for each gateway. Sometimes, a higher fee is legitimate if a gateway provides excellent service.
2. eCommerce compatibility
All payment gateways are not supported by every eCommerce plugin. Make sure that your chosen payment gateway is included in the list of extensions of your eCommerce plugin.
3. Financial information
Payment gateways generally offer two options for receiving financial information from customers. One is on the hosted page, which redirects customers to the payment gateway’s website after checkout, where they enter their information.
The other method is integration, where customers input their financial information directly on your website, which will then be sent to your payment gateway. This method is much more seamless and convenient but is less secure.
4. Mobile compatibility
More and more online transactions are taking place over mobile devices as time goes on. It’s important that users be allowed to purchase and pay for items from your store even if they’re purchasing from their smartphones. Choose a payment gateway that not only supports transactions over mobile but also has an optimized mobile experience with a good UI.
5. Security and support
Customer’s financial information is very important and to be secured. To ensure security make sure that your payment gateway features encryption, support for SSL certificates, and anything else to protect data.
You should also be able to respond quickly to problems with payment, refunds, and other concerns about transactions. Your payment gateway should have efficient and timely support that responds to your needs effectively.
Step 9: Extend Your Online Store With Plugins
So, you’re ready with your online store. You probably want to add other usual elements on your websites such as a contact us, about us page, and more.
To further customize the eCommerce store and add features like contact forms, galleries, sliders, etc, you need to use WordPress plugins.
WordPress plugins are like apps that allow you to add new features to your website.
There are over 47,000 WordPress plugins available in the respiratory.
Wrapping Up on How to build eCommerce site
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an established retailer trying to improve your online presence, there’s no better time to start building your eCommerce website than today. No matter which eCommerce platform you want to use and which marketing channels you want to explore, there are plenty of effective ways to reach your target audience.
But with the growing number of online retailers every day, the competition for that audience are going forward. That’s why it’s so important to get into the competition.