Have you ever wanted to start an online store but was hesitant because you thought it would be too difficult?
Well since you’re here I must congratulate you on taking that first step towards learning how to make a website for online shopping. In this article, I’m going to try my best to guide you along as we build your online store together.
Creating a website for online shopping used to be really difficult a few years ago. It required in-depth knowledge of both web development and web design and since information and online courses weren’t as available as it is now you would have had no other choice but to hire an expensive developer to create your online store for you.
It is so much easier to create a website today. However, the thought of creating a website by yourself can still be scary especially if you’re not quite the tech-savvy person.
This is exactly why I created this guide. I hope that it can help remove that fear and help you launch your online store today. So if you’re ready to start then follow along so we can get your online store up and running.
Select an Ecommerce Website Builder
Writing a bunch of code to create any type of website is pretty much a thing of the past. These days all you need to do is decide on which platform is right for you.
When it comes to creating an online store there are two platforms that I recommend. You can either go with WordPress + WooCommerce (which is the platform this article focuses on) or you can use Shopify.
So you’re probably wondering what’s the difference right? Well, here we go WordPress is a content management system that can be used to make any type of website including an online store.
In fact, this website along with 35% of all websites on the internet use WordPress. Any website built with WordPress can become an online store by installing the plugin WooCommerce which is the most popular eCommerce platform out there.
Shopify is an eCommerce website builder. It is basically an all in one solution to creating an online store.
Ecommerce website builders take care of most of the technical work for you. So you pretty much just sign up, select a theme and start adding products to sell. The main downside to eCommerce website builders is the expensive monthly subscription fee.
When deciding which platform you should use the main thing you should consider is your budget.
The Cost of Starting an Ecommerce Website
Start by thinking about the total amount of money you would like to spend on your online store.
An eCommerce builder such as Shopify charges a monthly fee of $29 per month for the most basic plan. This fee covers your domain registration and hosting and they also provide a few extra services.
Any other feature that you would like that isn’t included in the basic package will require you to upgrade to a more expensive package. This can quickly become expensive since their best package comes at a fee of $299 per month.
On the other hand, setting up a store with WordPress is a bit different since WordPress can be used to build any type of website and not just an online store.
This means that WordPress is more powerful, flexible, and gives you the complete freedom to create your online store the way you imagined it. Of course, the trade-off here is that it would require a little more work to set up but it won’t cost you nearly as much.
To create an online store with WordPress all you would need is a trusted web host that can be obtained for as little as $2.99 per month and a domain name which can be purchased for as little as $14.99 per year and a good SSL certificate which normally costs 69.99 per year.
Setting up Your Store With WordPress + WooCommerce
You will need three things to start your online store:
A domain name
Great web hosting
An SSL certificate.
So let’s start with your domain name. In simple terms, this is your website’s address on the internet. It is the URL that customers will enter in their browser to access your website.
Examples of domain names are:
You will need a good domain name, one that can easily be remembered by your customers so make sure it isn’t too long. A good domain name for your online store can be the name of your business.
Next, we’ll look at Web hosting. This is pretty much the place where your website lives on the internet. Your website needs to be hosted somewhere on the internet so that your customers would be able to access it when they enter your domain name in their browser.
Finally, an SSL certificate is basically a group of security protocols that will allow your online store to accept and process sensitive data. Such as customer names, addresses, credit card numbers, and other payment information. Without this certificate, you won’t be able to run a fully functional online store.
Step 2: Choose from one of the three hosting plans that are available.
The startUp plan is the most basic and lowest-priced. This is perfect if you plan on having just one website and if you’re just getting started.
The GrowBig plan offers the best value for your money and allows you to have multiple websites. It also allows you to have a faster website since it includes Siteground’s advanced caching system.
Finally, the GoGeek plan is good for people who plan on having a very large eCommerce store along with a team of developers who can take advantage of the additional features such as the ability to increase server resources and GIT integration.
For you who are reading this, I would recommend that you go with the StartUp plan if this is your first store and you’re on a tight budget.
I would recommend the GrowBig plan if you already own a physical store and you’re trying to add on a website so you can take advantage of online sales.
Step 1: In the “Please Enter Your Domain” box select register a new domain.
Step 2: Type in a unique domain name in the field below.
Step 2a: Alternatively, if you already own a domain name select “I already have a Domain” and enter it in the space provided then click on proceed.
Step 3: Next fill in the following information:
Your account information
Your client information
Your payment information
Step 4: Then select how long you would like to host your website. I recommend hosting your website for at least one year.
Step 5: Under the extra services section select Domain privacy.
When you register a domain name your personal information becomes available on whois services. Domain privacy is used to hide and protect your information on these whois services. You can find out more about domain privacy here.
Step 6: Click on the “pay now” button and you will be notified by Siteground that your payment was accepted.
Step 7: Then click on “proceed to customer area”.
Install WordPress On Your Web Hosting Account
At the customer area screen, you will see a banner like the one below.
Step 1: To begin installing WordPress click on “Set up site”.
Step 2: Next select start new website.
Step 3: Then select WordPress + WooCommerce.
Step 4: Next, create your WordPress username and password. (This would be used to log in to the admin area of your WordPress website)
Step 6: If you didn’t select SG Site Scanner or Domain Privacy when you were purchasing Siteground’s hosting service, you’ll have a chance to do it again now.
I highly recommend Domain Privacy however the SG Site Scanner isn’t important right now. Both can be added at any time even if you decide to pass on both at this point.
Step 7: You’ll then be asked to either log in to your admin panel or to manage your website site click on “Log in admin”.
Step 8: Siteground will automatically launch the Siteground + WooCommerce setup wizard click on “start now”.
step 9: Next, you’ll need to choose a theme that you like.
A theme determines the overall look of your online store. But don’t worry if you select a theme that you don’t like. You will always be able to change your theme whenever you like.
Step 9a: If you are recommended to use a certain plugin with the theme you selected click on confirm. (This is specific to the theme you selected)
Step 10: Next, you’ll see a list of recommended plugins. For now, just select the contact form plugin and click on continue. Other plugins can be added later.
Step 11: For the marketing plugins for now just select the SEO option and click on complete.
Step 12: Siteground will proceed to install WordPress, the necessary plugins, your theme, and some sample data (sample data depends on the theme you selected).
Configure WordPress and Install WooCommerce
Step 1: After the install is completed a pop will appear. Click on “go to dashboard”.
When you first log in to your WordPress website you will be greeted with the WordPress starter dashboard from here we will go on to set up your basic site information.
If you are not new to WordPress and you know your way around the platform then navigate to your plugins section and deactivate and uninstall the WordPress starter plugin.
If you’re new to WordPress don’t uninstall this plugin as it contains useful tips and guides to help beginners.
Step 2: Navigate to the settings tab on the left menu and click on general.
Step 3: Change the site title to the name of your website and the tagline to your mission statement if you’ve got one.
Step 4: Next, change your WordPress Address URL and the Site Address URL from http:// to https://.
When a WordPress site is created it defaults to http://websitename.com in order to take full advantage of your SSL certificate you will need to make this change so your site will always load securely with your SSL certificate.
Now it’s time to set up WooCommerce so you can get started selling your products and accepting payments.
Step 5: Start by finding the WooCommerce option located in the menu on the left, hover your pointer over it and click on settings.
Here is where we’ll change all the settings and information about your online store.
Step 6: At the top of the page, you’ll see a WooCommerce banner like the one below click on “run setup wizard”.
This will launch the WooCommerce setup wizard.
Step 7: Click on “yes please” and fill in the following information.
Your store location.
The industry in which you operate.
The type of products that you will be listing.
The number of products that you will be listing.
Step 8: Deselect all three recommended plugins as you can install them later when you have decided on a marketing plan.
Step 9: Next, select a new theme or proceed with the one you selected when you were setting up the WordPress.
Step 10: Say yes to jetpack + WooCommerce to complete the initial WooCommerce setup.
Configure Your New WooCommerce Store
Our theme has imported data and added our first few products for us. So we would start by personalizing our store and look into adding more products later on.
Step 1: Start by clicking on “personalize your store”.
Step 2: On the next screen click on create a homepage. WooCommerce will automatically create a homepage for your store.
Step 3: Next, upload a logo if you’ve got one and click on proceed.
Step 4: Then set a custom store notice if you want and click on complete tasks.
Next, we’ll set up shipping which is needed if you’re selling physical products.
Step 5: Start by clicking on “set up shipping” then enter your store’s address. It should be automatically filled in with the address you entered when you were setting up WooCommerce.
Step 6: Then set your desired shipping rates then click complete task.
If you want you can toggle the “rest of the world” switch on if you’re planning on doing worldwide shipping.
Now it’s time to configure your taxes.
Step 7: Click on set up taxes and enter your store’s address and click on continue.
Step 8: Next click on connect and the jetpack plugin will take care of the rest.
Now its time to set up your payment options.
Step 9: On the PayPal option click on “set up”.
WooCommerce will then proceed to install the PayPal plugin.
Step 10: Next click on connect.
Step 11: Then follow the instruction to connect your PayPal account to your WooCommerce store.
Step 12: For stripe payments do the same and click on “set up”.
Step 13: Then enter your live keys in the spaces provided.
If you are having difficulties finding your strip API key click here to find out where you can find them.
Add Products To Your WooCommerce Store
Now your store is fully set up, now it’s time to start adding your products.
Step 1: Start by heading into the menu on the left and hovering over products then clicking on add new.
Step 2: Give your product a name example “Apple iPhone 11”.
Step 3: Then you’ll need to write a product description.
The best way to write a product description is by stating the features and benefits of the item that will help your customers.
When you’re done with the product title and description, its time to place it into a category.
Step 4: On the menu to the right, you will see a few options scroll down till you see the categories box then click on add category.
Categories are useful because they help your customers to easily find your products. Categories are extremely useful when you have a wide variety of products for sale.
Step 5: Next, you’ll need to add some information about your product. You can find the product data section if you scroll down a bit. Here you’ll set the product’s pricing, inventory, shipping rates, attributes, etc.
Step 6: After that, you’ll want to type up a short product description.
This is important for customers who are viewing your products from the search page or category pages.
Now the final thing you’ll need to do is add the main product image and additional pictures for your customers to scroll through when viewing the product.
Step 7: To do this look for the “Product image” box in the right menu and click on “Set product image”.
Step 8: Select an image from your WordPress gallery or upload one from your computer.
Step 9: Repeat the previous step for product gallery.
Step 10: When you’re finished adding images click on the publish to make these changes live.
Step 11: Repeat this process for all the products that you will like to add.
Select a WordPress Theme For Your Online Store
At this point, your done setting up your store. However, you may want to change things around a bit to fit more with your brand.
Or maybe you’re probably not happy with the theme you selected during the setup process and you’ll like to change it. First, let’s look at changing your theme.
Step 1: From your WordPress dashboard on the menu to the left look for appearances then click on themes.
Step 2: On the themes, page click on the add new button next to the “Themes” header.
Step 3: Next click on the “feature filter” and select eCommerce then click on apply filters.
The reason why you’ll want to select the eCommerce filter is to make sure that you’re selecting a theme that has been built specifically for an online store.
If you select a theme that hasn’t been built for an online store you can potentially break your website or run into a lot of unnecessary issues.
On the following screen, you’ll see a list of filtered free themes that you can select.
Step 4: To select a theme that you like, hover over it and click on install.
It is important to note that there are free themes and premium themes. The process of installing a premium theme is a bit different but premium themes are always better than free themes. However, you can get along just fine using a free theme from a trusted developer.
Customize Your WordPress Theme
To customize certain aspects of your theme you’ll need to head to the appearance option and then click customize.
This will open the built-in WordPress visual editor. From here you can do things like changing your site title and headline, logo, theme colors, menu items, and widgets. You can also remove the sidebar on certain themes by using this menu. If you’ll like to learn how to do this then follow this link to our next article.
Install Plugins to Add Features To Your Website
Great, your store is ready to go live, however, you may want to add some additional features like contact forms, reviews, testimonials, galleries, and image sliders.
These additional features can be added on through plugins. There is a wide range of plugins available on the WordPress platform and you can definitely find one that fits your needs.
However, if you decide to use a premium theme you will notice that most of these features are already there.
This is because premium themes and some free themes come packaged with plugins that are installed when the theme is activated.
Okay great, you’ve made it! You’re ready to launch your store. But before we go on to promote and market your work of art we need to do a few final checks to make sure everything is perfect.
Here a short list of things that you should do before publishing your website:
Check each page for grammatical errors, misspelled words, and typos.
Ensure that all pictures are loading and are displayed as they should.
Make sure all menu titles and link work and none of them lead to error pages.
Finally allow a friend or family member to preview your website. Most times they are able to notice little things that you may have missed.
Now that you have complete your final checklist it’s time to launch your store, sit back, and watch the sale come in.
However, don’t get too comfortable because WordPress requires steady maintenance.
So while you monitor your sales and fulfill your customer’s orders you should continue to learn and master WordPress.
This will make it a lot easier for you to maintained and make changes to your online store as it grows.
My website is a good place for you to learn more about WordPress and I’m constantly updating it with more helpful articles.