How to set up WooCommerce e-commerce in WordPress in 10 steps.
Getting started with e-commerce can be difficult and it is easy to miss a step. This guide takes you from interest to having a full-fledged webshop in WordPress – complete with the tools you need to figure out the next step in your journey as an e-trader.
The guide consists of 10 steps and these are:
- What are WordPress and WooCommerce?
- Where should I turn for plugins & themes?
- Choosing a hosting provider
- Install WordPress & WooCommerce
- Choosing a payment solution
- Choosing shipping provider
- Terms and conditions, shipping terms & cookie notices
- Set up taxes & zones
- Arrange delivery notes & packing lists
- Set up tracking
What are WordPress and WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is the largest and most well-developed e-commerce project with WordPress available. The project is run by the company Automattic, which is also the creator of WordPress. WooCommerce is today the most widely used e-commerce solution for small and medium-sized e-retailers in the world and is growing steadily.
As WordPress and WooCommerce are open-source, you have full freedom to change things as you want and where all documentation is available online. This creates supplier independence that is difficult to achieve with, for example, a rental solution. There are also lots of people who can help if you get stuck.
It can be very difficult for a buyer to know who to turn to for good help if you get stuck. The safest solution is to look for a provider that is affiliated with the official affiliate program, WooExperts. Those listed in this program are only there at the invitation of the creators of WooCommerce and are the closest one can come to a guarantee that the work will be well done. Angry Creative is accredited as a WooExpert.
Where should I turn for plugins & themes?
Basically, both WordPress and WooCommerce are open source and therefore cost nothing. To be able to use WordPress and WooCommerce, however, you often have to have extra features that are not included. These are called plugins and there are thousands of free ones. We have made a number of WordPress plugins available for free, but also many customized plugins. Everything that is free is usually available on Wordpress.org, but for WooCommerce you often have to pay a small amount for many of the basic functions you need to use. These are most often bought at Woocommerce.com.
You should be careful about which plugins you choose. The plugins available on woocommerce.com are all reviewed and maintained, but at wordpress.org only a minor review is done. On third-party sites such as themeforest.com, you can find lots of plugins, but the quality can be very uneven. We therefore generally recommend using Woocommerce.com and wordpress.org or hiring an expert.
As for themes, we always use our starting point Qala E-commerce. In this theme, we have gathered experience from our projects so that you get the things that you have to solve in order to run a successful WooCommerce project. If you have the ambition to create an international store, Qala streamlines the project by several hundred hours. Qala is especially suitable for the more ambitious e-retailer who wants to carry out an excellent project. Still, for someone who is starting up and does not have a budget, WooCommerce’s own Storefront is just fine.
Hosting for WordPress & WooCommerce
An important part of running a successful e-commerce store is choosing the right kind of hosting. Therefore, we need to look at a hosting provider that can operate our solution.
When it comes to purchasing hosting services, you will have different requirements depending on where you are in your development. Generally speaking, you are in one of three stages; Startup, Sub-enterprise, and Enterprise.
Regardless of which solution you choose, it is important to use SSL. SSL means that the transfer between your e-commerce site and the end customer is encrypted. This is extremely important because you as an e-merchant will handle parts of people’s personal data and payment data. Without SSL it is easy for an attacker to eavesdrop on the communication between your solution and the customer and thus come across information that is sensitive.
There are a variety of types of certificates, but the simplest protection you can use is Let’s Encrypt. Let’s Encrypt is a project to strengthen security on the web and through donations from many of the world’s largest companies, they can issue SSL certificates free of charge. The only thing needed for you who use it is that your hosting partner has an automated solution to handle the process around this – but most respectable hosting partners today do.
As a Startup, you do not always have that many customers. It may not matter very much if something goes crazy a little now and then, as long as the price is right and the solution works well enough. The focus here is on the fact that it is quick to change things in the solution and that it is cheap to change it. What you want to look at here is a general supplier that you can grow with until you reach the next level. They want them to provide as stable a service as possible while having good support. Here we recommend WPengine.
As a Sub-enterprise customer, you have probably been up and running for a while and turned over some money on your solution. The challenges you face here are often about wanting to enter more markets or take the “next step”. It is now that things are starting to become important with things like that the e-commerce solution does not go down when you run a major campaign, that test environments are not public so that they are indexed by search engines, or maybe that when an update is run there is no possibility of the shopping cart / the cash register crashes by mistake. With performance optimizations and modern development principles (automated tests, construction jobs, version control, VPN, and more), you make sure that this does not happen.
When you are at this level, we recommend Synotio WordPress hosting which is our solution where we have combined our 10 years as WordPress providers. Here we take total responsibility for the webshop being up and running, we guarantee this with the fine (refund obligation).
As an Enterprise customer, a single mistake can equate to huge losses. Therefore, the need for processes and a solution that is always up is a basis in the requirements. What is often forgotten, however, is how to get the collaboration between different developers together. It becomes especially complicated when there are developers and others internally who need to collaborate with external suppliers.
For this purpose, Synotio offers an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform. This means that you can buy hosting and development processes together, which gives you the opportunity to use both external and internal resources if you want and get DevOps help with the purchase.
Install WordPress & WooCommerce
Once you have chosen which hosting provider is right for you, it is time to install WordPress and WooCommerce. The design looks a bit different depending on which solution you have chosen, but in essence, a 5-minute installation of WordPress is performed first. After this is done, it is no more difficult than going to “Plugins”, searching for “WooCommerce” and installing.
When this is done, you go to “Appearance” -> “Themes”. Here you can search for themes that are freely available. Search for “Storefront” and click install. After you have done this, it may be worthwhile to look over the page and make sure everything is translated into the language you want. Since the theme comes from WordPress.org, if the translation is not complete, you can go to Translate WordPress, find the theme, and help translate it.
Now the foundation has been laid, but this is also where the hard work begins – to make all the settings the way you want them.
Choosing a payment solution
There are lots of payment providers and the different providers’ suppliers and solutions all look different. Therefore, it is important to have an idea of what type of customers you have and in which markets you should be active. Examine which option is right for you. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Sometimes payment providers do not want to offer solutions for the service you intend to sell because they do not think you are suitable as a customer with them. Then you have to keep looking.
If you are a Startup, it is often beneficial to keep costs down. As a standard solution, you can always use PayPal, but the cheapest is probably to use Stripe.
Another good alternative is Klarna. Klarna is a household name in Scandinavia and is perceived as a safe alternative that, via its flexible solution, increases conversion in the last step at the checkout. The disadvantage is that a fairly good turnover may be required to be able to negotiate a really good agreement. You can find Klarna’s plugin for free at woocommerce.com.
Read our more in-depth guide to payment solutions to find what suits you; Choosing the best payment solution for WooCommerce.
Keep in mind that it usually takes a number of weeks before the agreement is ready and this process is complete. It is therefore important to run several processes simultaneously.
Choosing shipping provider
Shipping, just like a payment provider, is a long selection process and a long contract procedure. Here you need to ask yourself the question; Where are my customers? What type of products need to be shipped? How should things be stored? If things are not stocked locally, it may be worth investigating more comprehensive 3PL solutions (Third-party logistics) or drop shipping – but for now, we assume that what is to be sent is in place.
Some of the most common suppliers are Royal Mail, DHL, DSV, UPS, and Fedex. They all have different prices, partners, and solutions that can be compared. There are also freight brokers who manage to push prices further through co-freight or simply good negotiations.
It is often easy to use a supplier such as nShift, which via a single system can connect lots of different freight suppliers. This greatly facilitates the work around shipping, and only a single integration is needed. We have ready-made solutions for nShift if you are a contract customer. Read more about nShift and the benefits of this solution.
Set up shipping costs & shipping classes
Setting up your shipping costs exactly as you want them in WooCommerce can be complicated if, for example, you do not use free shipping or a fixed shipping price. If you are selling things that vary in size and weight, there can easily be many exceptions and high complexity, which WooCommerce cannot handle out of the box.
To solve this common problem, Table Rate shipping is often used, which is a plugin that makes it possible to define complicated freight sets. This plugin works for most e-retailers, but in some cases, tailored functionality is required, which requires hiring a WooCommerce expert.
Terms and conditions, shipping terms & cookie notices
The last step in the process with the payment and shipping provider is usually that they approve your store to use their solution. It is therefore important that you, before this opportunity, have clearly written your terms and conditions for the website. Your store should have the following:
- Terms and Conditions (including information on GDPR)
- Shipping terms
- Information about cookies
These texts often take a long time to produce and need to be adapted to the very business that this e-commerce will be engaged in. Remember that advantageous shipping prices and return terms give satisfied customers!
Set up taxes & zones
Depending on which markets are to be sold to and depending on whether you are to work with B2C or B2B, the tax rules are very different. In Sweden, there is a difference in the type of products sold. Before VAT rates are stated, we always recommend that you investigate what kind of VAT rate applies domestically.
If you sell products within the EU, it is relatively easy. VAT is paid by private individuals as usual, but as a company, you do not pay VAT. You can find more information on HM Revenue & Customs website.
If you intend to sell to companies within the EU, a plugin is usually needed to check the buyer’s VAT number (VAT registration number) at check-out. Here you can advantageously use the plugin EU VAT number to solve such a field.
If you sell goods outside the EU, the customer will also have to pay customs duties and there can be a lot of processes with customs. Keep in mind that some items may be export banned and must be approved by authorities – so check carefully first! More information can be found at HM Revenue & Customs.
Since 1 July 2021, the EU has also introduced new directives and EU VAT rules with Import One Stop Shop. Read more about the IOSS and EU VAT rules.
Once we have started finding our payment supplier and shipping supplier, it is an excellent situation to start adding the products to the store. Depending on how many products there are to be, this can either be done manually, or products can be imported from, for example, excel lists. For this, ready-made CSV import plugins are often needed or tailor-made tools need to be developed.
If the number of products is limited, you generally get the best possible result from adding the products one by one. Each product has one or more descriptive texts and these are extremely important. Search engines will index them so it is important to have good and descriptive texts, reviews, nice pictures and more.
Keep in mind that the categorization and organization of products will be important in building navigation. Menus will be much easier to create if there is a good and clear structure.
Understand the difference between product types
In WooCommerce, you can choose between a couple of different product types. The most common is to choose between ordinary simple products and variable products.
- Simple products mean that each individual product has its own product number (SKU). These products are only available in one version.
- Variable products mean that the product is available in several variations. For example, if you are marketing mobile phone cases, an iPhone case may be a product – but the 10 different designs on the product may be variations in this case.
- Grouped products mean that you group several products together in a group. In this way, it would be possible to sell each product separately as individual spare parts – to also include in a group the “assembly” service, so that the customer gets a pre-assembled product.
There are also product types for subscriptions, services (virtual products), downloadable products, affiliate, and more. WooCommerce has a comprehensive guide to the different product types and how they work, this is recommended further reading.
Arrange delivery notes & packing lists
Package leaflets and packing lists are practical things that are often needed to make it easy for you as an e-retailer. This is especially useful if the packaging of the products is not handled externally. If you handle packaging yourself, do not forget to buy packaging materials.
WooCommerce does not handle packing lists and invoices in its basic version but requires plugins to do this well. Print invoices and packing lists is a plugin that is often used to create packing lists and invoices but often needs to be applied by hand in order for it to feel consistent with your graphic profile.
Set up tracking
At this time, we have a working e-commerce solution. Now it’s time to market our solution, build engagement around your brand and gradually improve the store to step by step increase sales.
The basis of this further development work is traceability. We must be able to justify every change that is made with the help of data. Therefore, it is extremely important that we have analysis tools that work and that deliver the right data to us.
Google Analytics (GA) & Google Tag Manager (GTM) are two common products used to analyze data. Google Tag Manager is used as a customizable container within which you can enter GA and other measurement scripts, but you can also use GTM to track advanced interactions such as a specific keystroke or if users have managed to view a specific part of the page.
When implementing GA, you usually need to use a plugin that syncs the correct WooCommerce data to GA. This tells GA what a conversion is and how much the order was worth. This gives access to GA’s e-commerce views, which are very advantageous. Enhanced E-Commerce is a plugin that we have used many times with success.
Hotjar is a service that works well as a complement to GA & GTM. Hotjar’s coolest feature is that it can record what visitors do on the site, which makes it possible to follow their path from the time they enter the site until it becomes a purchase. This is a great way to analyze the design and usability of the website to find out what can be improved. Hotjar also has a lot of tools for, for example, different types of popups, customer surveys etc. that can be interesting to use.
We hope this guide has been helpful in creating your e-commerce site. Good luck!
Take the next step with Qala!
Is it time to take your e-commerce to whole new levels. Take the next step with our e-commerce solution Qala. A platform based on WordPress and WooCommerce where we have gathered the best solutions for e-commerce in an efficient packaging.
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