Well, you’re not alone. After helping lots of users start their online store, we have decided to create the most comprehensive guide on how to build your online store with WordPress (step by step)
What Do You Need to Start an Online Store?
There had never been a better time to start running an online business than today.
Anyone with a computer can get started within a few minutes and without having to acquire any special skills.
The three things you need to start an online store are:
- A domain name idea (this will be the business name of your online store)
- A web hosting account (this is where your website lives on the internet)
- Your undivided attention for 30 minutes.
Yep, it is super simple.
You can set up your own online store with WordPress in less than 30 minutes and we’ll walk you through every step of the process.
In this article, we will cover:
- How to Register a Domain Name for Free
- How to Choose the Best WooCommerce Hosting
- How to Get an SSL Certificate for Free (required for accepting payments)
- How to Install WordPress
- How to Create a WooCommerce store
- How to Add Products in your Online Store
- How to Select and Customize Your Theme
- How to Extend Your Online Store with Plugins
- Learning to Learn WordPress & Grow Your Business
Ready? Let’s get started.
Step 1: Setting up Your Online Store Platform
The biggest mistake most users make is not picking the right platform for their online store.
Fortunately you’re here, so you won’t be making that mistake.
There are two popular eCommerce platforms that we recommend: Shopify or WordPress + WooCommerce.
Shopify is a fully hosted eCommerce solution that starts at $29 per month (paid monthly or yearly upfront to earn a discount). It’s a hassle-free solution where you just log in and start selling. The drawback to Shopify is that it gets quite pricy, and your payment options are limited unless you pay additional fees.
This is why most users choose WordPress + WooCommerce because of the flexibility it provides. It does require some setup, but it’s worth doing it in the long run. WordPress is the most popular website builder now and WooCommerce is the world’s largest eCommerce platform.
In this tutorial, we’ll walk you through how to set up an online store in WordPress using WooCommerce.
To set up your eCommerce store, you need a domain name, web hosting, and an SSL certificate.
A domain name is your website’s address on the internet. It is what users will type in their browsers to reach your website (for instance: google.com).
Web hosting is where your eCommerce website lives on the internet. It’s your website’s house on the internet. Every website on the internet needs web hosting.
SSL certificate adds a special security layer to your website, so you can accept sensitive information such as credit card numbers and other personal information. This is essential for you to accept credit card payments on your eCommerce site.
Normally a domain name costs around $14.99 per year, web hosting costs around $7.99per month, and SSL certificate costs around $69.99 per year.
Step 2. Setting up WordPress
Let’s set up your WordPress website.
First, you need to go to Settings » General page to setup your WordPress site title and description.
You can use your store name as site title and provide a catchy description for your business. The description part is just optional so don’t worry if you can’t come with something right away.
Setting up HTTPS to Use SSL
Your WordPress hosting package includes a free SSL Certificate. This certificate is pre-installed for your domain name. However, your WordPress site needs to be configured, so it loads as https vs http.
On the Settings » General page, you will need to change your WordPress Address and Site Address to use https instead of http.
Remember to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.
Your basic WordPress setup is complete. Now it is time to setup your online store.
Step 3. Setting up Your WooCommerce Store
WooCommerce is the best online store builder available in the market. It is built on top of WordPress which gives the flexibility of WordPress with freedom to sell any type of products you want.
First, you need to install and activate the WooCommerce plugin.
Simply go to Plugins » Add New page and find WooCommerce. In the search results, click on the Install Now button next to WooCommerce listing.
WordPress will now fetch and install WooCommerce plugin for you. Wait for it and to finish downloading the plugin and then click on the ‘Activate’ button to go on.
Upon activation, WooCommerce will launch the set up wizard and you can see the Welcome to WooCommerce screen. This set up wizard can walk you through important WooCommerce settings.
First, you need to fill in basic information for your online store such as address, country, and region. If you are a retailer, then you can add your retail location information as the address.
Then, click on the Continue button to move on to the next step.
After that, you will be asked to choose a store industry. You can select an industry closest to the type of store you want to make.
Click on the continue button to move on.
Then, you’ll be asked to choose the types of products you’ll be selling on your store. For example, if your products need shipping, then you can choose physical products.
You can also choose several product types. For instance, you can choose both Physical Products and Downloads too. Don’t worry about selling different product types. You can choose which type of product you are adding for each product.
Click on the Continue button.
Then, you’ll be asked to provide some business details like how many products you plan to sell and if you are selling elsewhere. You can choose that I don’t have products yet and choose ‘No’ for the other option.
Then, you need to switch to the ‘Free Features’ tab. You can see a box pre-checked to install free features for your website.
You need to uncheck this option as it will install several other WooCommerce extensions that you may not need. If you need them later, you can always install them yourself.
Click on the Continue button for the next step.
After that, you’ll be asked to choose a theme for your online store. You can continue with your current default theme, choose Storefront or any of the free options listed on the page.
Don’t worry about selecting the perfect theme right away. We’ll tell you how to choose the best theme for your online store later in this article.
That’s all, you have successfully completed basic WooCommerce setup.
Step 4. Setting up Payments for Your Online Store
Now, you need to set up payment methods to accept online payments on your store. WooCommerce offers a bunch of payment gateways that you can easily setup.
Visit the WooCommerce » Settings page and switch to the ‘Payments’ tab. By default, you can choose from PayPal Standard, Cash on Delivery, Checks, and Bank Transfers.
Scroll below and you will also see the option to install Stripe, PayPal Checkout, and WooCommerce Payments. We recommend Stripe and PayPal Standard for your payment options.
For each payment gateway, you can click on the Set up button and fill in the required information. For example, you can enable Stripe and enter your API Keys (you can find this information under your Stripe account).
Don’t forget to click on the Save changes button to store your payment settings.
Step 5. Adding Products to Your Online Store
Let’s start with adding the first product to your online store.
You need to go to Products » Add New page to add a new product.
First, write a title for your product and then some detailed description.
On the right-hand column, you can see the ‘Product Categories’ box. Click on the ‘+Add New Product Category’ to create a category for this product. This enables you and your customers to sort and browse products easily.
Scroll down a little and you may notice the Product Data box. This is where you will give product related information like pricing, inventory, shipping etc.
Below product data box, you can see a box to add product short description. These product descriptions will be used when users are viewing multiple products on a page.
Lastly, on your right-hand column you can see boxes to add a main product image and a product gallery.
Once you are satisfied with all the product information you have added, you can click on the Publish button to make it live on your website.
Repeat the process to add more products as needed.
Step 6. Select and Customize WordPress Theme
Themes control how your WordPress sites look to the users when they visit it. For a WooCommerce shop, they also control how your products are displayed.
There are hundreds of paid and free WordPress themes available that let you create a stunning online presence.
Once you have installed a WooCommerce theme you can customize its appearance to your own requirements.
Simply go to Appearance » Customize page. This will launch theme customizer where you can change different theme settings.
Most modern WooCommerce themes includes different customization options and work well with desktop as well as mobile devices.
Step 7. Extend Your Online Store With Plugins
Now that your store is almost ready, you may want to add more features to create a successful online store. For instance, you can add a customer support form or promote your new business on social media to make your first sale.
This is where plugins come in.
Both WooCommerce and WordPress let you easily add new features to your website by using plugins or extensions.
Plugins are like apps for your WordPress website. There are tons of them that you can use, both free and premium. The WordPress.org plugin directory alone has more than 58,000 plugins.
However, this abundance of choices also makes it difficult for beginners to choose the appropriate plugins. How do you know which plugin to choose? Take a look at our Part 2