Running an online store is a great way to get your products in front of a large audience. However, it can also be time-consuming when you take into consideration the time you spend on fulfilling orders, keeping track of your inventory, and marketing your store.
Because of this, your eCommerce platform should be easy to use and maintain. WordPress fits the bill perfectly because it allows you to create any type of website and it’s easy to use; even for beginners.
WordPress also has thousands of themes available suitable for almost any niche, which is why it’s the primary choice for many eCommerce owners.
In this post, we’ll talk about how to build an eCommerce website with WordPress. You'll discover how to choose the right theme. Plus, we'll show you how to easily get your online store up and running.
Why Use WordPress for an eCommerce Store?
WordPress has plenty of themes to choose from and it also has thousands of plugins that add extra functionality to your site. In fact, there are several plugins designed specifically to turn your WordPress site into an online store.
One of the most popular plugins for this purpose is WooCommerce. It allows you to sell both digital and physical products. WooCommerce integrates with several payment gateways out of the box, and it has its own set of extensions that allow you to sync your orders with your accounting software, offer extra shipping methods, print invoices, and shipping labels, automatically send emails to customers who abandon their carts, and so much more.
How to Choose a WordPress eCommerce Theme
An attractive website can help you attract more visitors and turn them into customers, however, design isn't the only thing you should focus on when you search for a WordPress theme. Here are a few key things to look for.
1. Choose a Theme With the Right Features
While most of the eCommerce functionality comes from the plugin, there are some features found in themes that will improve your customer’s experience. In particular, you’ll want to find a theme that offers the following features:
- Megamenu. A megamenu usually acts as a drop-down menu that reveals additional pages and links as you hover over it. It allows you to organize your navigation and add your product categories and pages without overwhelming the visitors.
- Quick View. The ability to click on a product and instantly view the details or add the product to the cart reduces the amount of clicking your visitors need to do and it can improve your conversion rate.
- Catalog mode. Similarly, if you choose a theme with a catalog mode, your visitors can browse through your products without having to click through insane number of pages and categories
Envato offers many options when it comes to eCommerce WordPress themes.
2. Don’t Ignore the Whitespace
If possible, opt for a theme that has a clean design with plenty of white space between individual items. This allows your products and calls-to-action to stand out and makes it easier for your customers to focus on everything your store has to offer.
3. Make Sure Your Theme Is Easy to Customize
Customizing your theme is crucial so you can create a consistent look and feel for your brand. A theme that comes with a theme settings panel or uses Customizer allows you modify colors, fonts, and other aspects without having to touch any code. If you choose a theme that comes with a page builder integration, you’ll even be able to easily modify the layout of your pages.
How to Get Started With Your WordPress eCommerce Website
To get started with your eCommerce site in WordPress, you’ll need to take care of a few technical details before adding products and tinkering with theme settings. For starters, you’ll need to buy a domain name. You’ll also need to purchase a hosting plan, a theme for your website, and prepare your content such as product images and descriptions.
1. A Domain Name
Your domain name allows your visitors to find you on the web. If you already have a physical store, it’s a good idea to use it for your domain name. Alternatively, you can name your store according to the products you sell or pick a more generic name in case you want to expand your inventory in the future.
2. A Hosting Plan
Once you’ve settled on your domain name, you need to choose a hosting plan so that people can access your site. There are plenty of options when it comes to hosting, from cheap, shared plans to more expensive, managed WordPress hosting plans.
3. A WordPress Theme
As mentioned before, WordPress has no shortage of high-quality themes for various niches. While the free themes are nice, they often lack support from theme authors and aren’t updated as often as the premium themes. Keeping your theme up-to-date is crucial if you want to ensure your website provides the best user experience and is safe.
Luckily, there are a few marketplaces like Envato Elements that allow you to download an unlimited number of WordPress themes for an affordable yearly subscription. That means you can change the theme as often as you’d like. Once you’ve found a theme you like, all you've got to do is purchase it and download the zipped file to your computer. You can also find plenty of themes for WooCommerce that are regularly updated and give you access to six months of free support from the author on ThemeForest.
4. Content and Images
Finally, you’ll want to prepare your product images and product descriptions so all you've got to do is copy and paste them after you’ve installed your theme and WooCommerce plugin. This speeds up the website setup process and allows you to launch your site in a matter of hours. Don’t forget to include copy on other pages on your site, such as your About page, Terms and Conditions, your location, or anything else you might need.
Getting Started With WordPress and WooCommerce
Now that you've got everything in place, it’s time to create your site. You’ll need to install WordPress, WooCommerce, your theme, and the necessary plugins before you customize your theme or import any of the content.
For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll be using the Lotus theme. The Lotus theme features a modern and responsive design with plenty of whitespace and a one-click import button for demo content, which makes it easier to setup your site. It also includes Visual Composer Builder and Revolution Slider so you can easily edit the layout and create gorgeous slides of your products.
Let's get started:
1. Install WordPress
The first step is installing WordPress. Once you purchase your hosting plan, your hosting company will provide you with the link to your hosting account dashboard where you can install WordPress.
Once you’re logged in, search for a section labeled WordPress Install, One-click Installers, Softaculous Installers or something similar. Find the WordPress icon, click it, and follow the instructions.
This will load a screen where you’ll be prompted to enter your site’s name and description, your desired username and password, as well as your email address. Fill in the fields with your information and then press the Install button.
Once WordPress is installed, you can log in to your WordPress dashboard. Just visit the URL: yoursitename.com/wp-admin (replace yoursitename.com with your actual domain name). Then input the username and password you created previously.
2. Install Your WordPress Theme
In your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes > Add new. Then, click Upload Theme.
Find the downloaded zip folder that contains the theme’s files and upload it. Once the installation is done, click Activate.
3. Install Required Plugins
After the theme has been activated, you’ll see a notification in the dashboard with a message that certain plugins are required for the theme to have all of its functionality. Click the Begin installing plugins link to be taken directly to the installation screen.
Select all the plugins from the drop-down menu, click Install and wait for the process to finish.
4. Install WooCommerce
The last step is to install WooCommerce to enable eCommerce functionality on your site. In your dashboard, navigate to Plugins > Add New. Search for WooCommerce, install it, and then activate it.
You’ll need to go through the plugin setup process, which will create the necessary pages and allow you to choose your location, currency, and payment method.
With technical details out of the way, it’s time to add your content and setup your theme.
How to Set Up and Customize Your Theme
The easiest way to set up your theme is to import demo content. Most modern themes usually come with the ability to use one-click import that allows you to import dummy images, posts, and pages with a single click of a button. Once you’re done importing content, you can play with the theme settings to change out colors, fonts, and more.
1. Import Demo Content
The best part about importing demo content is that the theme will import all pages, posts, images, widget settings, and more and make your website look like the demo. In the case of the Lotus theme, it will import sample products and a shop page so all you’ll have to do is edit the existing pages with your own content.
To begin, go to Appearance > Import Demo Data, then click the blue Import button. Wait for the process to complete and your site will be ready for you to add your own content and customize the appearance.
2. Replace Demo Content
Let’s proceed with replacing the demo content. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Pages and click the Edit button under the page you want to work with. In this example, we’ll be editing the Fullscreen Slider page.
Since the Lotus theme uses Visual Composer builder, press the Edit with Visual Composer button. Once the page editor loads, you'll be able to modify the layout, add additional modules, and more.
To edit elements on your page, simply click on the pencil icon and enter your own content and adjust the settings to your liking. You can also add additional elements like text boxes, buttons, icons, videos, images, and more.
3. Add Your Own Products
To add your own products, go to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Products > All products. Click the Edit link beneath each product and replace the content with your own description, price, and images. If you've got more products than the demo, simply go to Products > Add New and then enter product description, images, and set the correct price.
4. Customize Visual Appearance
When you’re done setting up the pages and the products, go to Appearance > Customize and tweak the settings to your liking. You can upload your own logo and site identity icon, change the fonts, configure the homepage, sidebar positions, and more.
5 Useful WooCommerce Extensions to Help Your Store Get off on the Right Foot
As mentioned earlier, there are numerous extensions that allow you to get more out of your online store. Here are five useful extensions that will make running your store easier:
Building trust is important when it comes online stores. Your customers may have questions about your products or shipping policies. The last thing you want is for them to abandon your site because they can’t find answers. By adding a Live Chat function, they can get answers immediately, which is a great way to ensure them that they can trust you with their money.
Thanks to this extension, you can sell gift cards for your store. Not only can your customers buy them and gift them to their loved ones, you can also offer them to returning customers as a reward or to new customers as an incentive to become a customer.
The Improved Product Options for WooCommerce plugin allows you to set the desired custom options for your products and create an infinite number of attribute selectors of product options that go beyond colors, size, and material.
Thanks to this SEO friendly plugin, your customers can filter products by categories, attributes, taxonomies, ranges, meta keys, and more, allowing them to find the exact product they're looking for.
Issuing refunds can be a cumbersome process unless you've got this extension. You can automate the entire process and allow customers to submit product refund or exchange requests, which is sent to you via email. You can then decide to issue a refund or exchange the item and adjust the order as necessary.
Get Started With Your Online Store
Starting an online store is exciting and viable business model. Now that you know how to build an eCommerce website with WordPress and themes made specifically with WooCommerce in mind, along with numerous WooCommerce extensions, you can get your store up and running in a matter of hours. Browse through our theme selection and get started building your online store today.