WooCommerce is one of the most popular solutions for building an online store – and it’s free. Unlike eCommerce solutions like Shopify or BigCommerce, WooCommerce doesn’t come with a recurring fee or additional costs such as the transaction charges each time someone buys from you.
WooCommerce is a lot simpler to work with and does not involve integrating complex online shopping cart software with your site.
As a matter of fact, you can easily install and configure WooCommerce on your site all by yourself — without hiring a developer or learning any web development languages.
Strap in, I’m going to show you how fast easy you can start selling online with WooCommerce in this beginners guide.
In this WooCommerce tutorial, you’ll learn how to:
- Install and configure WooCommerce to run and manage your online store
- Choose the right WordPress theme that seamlessly integrates WooCommerce; and plugins to add more functionality to your store
The tools you’ll need
- Platform – WordPress.org
- Domain registrar – Namecheap
- Web host – Bluehost, TMDHosting, A2 Hosting
- WP WooCommerce theme (free) – Storefront, OceanWP
- WP WooCommerce theme (paid) – Shopkeeper, Divi, Konte, Electro
- Plugins to handle cart abandonment – Abandoned Cart Lite, Recover Abandoned Cart
- Plugins for product filtering – WOOF, WooCommerce Products Filter
- Shipping, pricing and discounts plugins – Extended Coupon Features, Dynamic Pricing & Discounts, Advanced Shipping
Step #1: Before you begin, buy a domain name and hosting
If you already have a domain name and web hosting, and you have installed WordPress, move on to the step #2 about choosing a theme.
Going for a managed WordPress hosting means that the hosting provider will take care of your site’s maintenance, updates, and security. By choosing a dependable web host like Bluehost, you can forget about these hassles and focus solely on the business side of your store.
Bluehost offers WordPress+WooCommerce hosting. I would, however, not recommend going for it now as it will cost higher at $12.95/month, whereas the simple web hosting costs just $3.49/mo. Check out our full Bluehost review before you sign up.
After you have chosen a domain name and hosting, you need to:
- Install and configure WordPress
- Install and customize your chosen WordPress theme for your new online store
- Install the WooCommerce plugin and configure its settings
- Add a bunch of free or premium WordPress plugins that support and extend WooCommerce
Step #2: Choosing a WordPress WooCommerce theme
Now, a lot of WordPress themes ‘support’ WooCommerce. However, not all such themes necessarily make beautiful WooCommerce stores. Yes, they do work with WooCommerce, so you’ll be able to add products and all, but in my experience, such themes are off-putting.
For your store to look and feel great, you need to choose a specialized WooCommerce WordPress theme.
WordPress themes for WooCommerce
Below are two great free themes. Because they’re free, they do lack the bells and whistles of a premium WooCommerce theme.
With more than 200,000 active installs, Storefront is one of the most downloaded WordPress WooCommerce themes. It was developed by Automattic, the same people behind WooCommerce. As such, you can expect seamlessly functionality between the two.
Storefront’s homepage beautifully displays the product categories, on-sale and top-rated products, and the featured product listings.
In addition to being responsive, Storefront also supports the schema markup language that is known to improve SEO.
With over 600,000 active installations, OceanWP is a great WooCommerce theme for your online store. It is lightweight and highly extendable. It will also enable you to create almost any type of page such a catalogue, portfolio, about us, and even run a beautiful blog alongside your store.
OceanWP is fast, responsive, supports RTL and is translation ready. From my analysis, it follows recommended SEO practices for WordPress themes with unique WooCommerce features to increase conversion. You can work with the most popular page builders such as Elementor, Beaver Builder, Brizy, Visual Composer, and SiteOrigin.
OceanWP’s product pages are gorgeous and make buying a breeze:
This theme supports multiple widgets in the sidebar and footer. You can use any of the free WordPress WooCommerce widgets to add to these areas.
Beautiful premium WooCommerce themes
Let’s now look at 4 beautiful premium WooCommerce themes you can buy.
Shopkeeper is a well-thought-out eCommerce theme that’s packed with a number of features that could charge you hundreds of dollars if you had to buy individual premium plugins to implement them.
- Sell external / affiliate products (You can use this feature to sell and endorse products from other websites.)
- Built-in order tracking system
- Built-in shipping calculator
- Built-in ratings/reviews functionality
- Built-in advanced product filters
- Integrated wishlist
In addition, Shopkeeper also has stunning product page templates for products that have variations, are downloadable, affiliate, out of stock or on sale. Shopkeeper has as many as 10 starter site homepage layouts.
Shopkeeper theme also offers lovely ready-to-use banner templates. These banners can be customized and added anywhere on your store. If you get stuck, the developer support is quite good.
This theme has been bought over 30,800 times and at $59, it’s an absolute steal.
Divi makes building websites easier. For beginners and website owners, Divi gives you the freedom to bring your own visions to life. It is an elegant WooCommerce shopping theme that comes packed with a visual editor and hundreds of pre-made designs.
Divi offers 40+ website elements. Have a look at the Pet Shop landing page.
When it comes to selling products with Divi, the theme comes with WooCommerce integrations to make your work easier. You can work on your product listings, product pages, checkout, and more.
Divi is more than just a WordPress theme, it’s a completely new website building platform that replaces the standard WordPress post editor with a vastly superior visual editor. It can be enjoyed by design professionals and newcomers alike, giving you the power to create spectacular designs with surprising ease and efficiency.
#3: Konte – Trendy and Minimalist
Konte is a refreshing WooCommerce theme that comes with 10 absolutely beautiful homepage layouts. I especially love the Minimal, Collections, and Clean layouts.
In all honesty, it was hard to choose one over the other from the demo. Each is strikingly beautiful. The Checkout, Cart, Wishlist, and order tracking pages look great. The theme also includes variations of the About and Contact pages for you to choose from.
When you look at the range of product types this theme supports, you’ll realize how much time the theme makers might have actually put into planning this theme. You have special designs for different pages, 7 different layouts for the products detail page, and even a Lookbook for your fashion store.
This team gets the full score when it comes to looks and elegance. And it is bundled with a few premium extensions that help offer your visitors a world-class shopping experience.
Konte is quite a bargain at $59.
#4: Electro – Marketplace WooCommerce Theme
A lot of people have products to sell but cannot because they may find the process of developing an online shop daunting. A marketplace WooCommerce theme allows you to let different entrepreneurs to easily list and sell their products through your online store, kinda like Amazon.
I tried Electro theme to see if it’s really as good as advertised when it comes to marketplace listings. I’ve seen many theme authors claiming marketplace capabilities, but very few themes actually deliver a proper marketplace experience for both the seller and the buyer.
I played around trying to recreate a typical shopping behavior and believe it or not, I was pleasantly surprised. Electro delivers!
The header allows for a sticky navigation, an off-canvas navigation or hidden navigation when you are browsing the WooCommerce store. Adding products to the shopping cart, which is always available, is a one-click operation. When you want to search for a product, there is an auto-suggest search that helps you find products faster and better. The product filter is responsive and it updates the products list in real-time.
The theme features these beautiful product pages with extra tools to help you convert more.
Electro is blazing fast and will not slow down your website. It is also easy on your web hosting resources.
16,500+ customers must be right. Electro costs $59.
Step #3: Installing WooCommerce and configuring its settings
To begin building your online store, first, download WooCommerce and activate it on your WordPress site.
Often times, when you install a theme, it will prompt you to install required plugins. You can do this from Appearance > Install Plugins in the your WordPress Dashboard.
As soon as you activate WooCommerce, you should be redirected to its redesigned on-boarding page. Fill in the details as you progress through the 5 steps. You should be ready to sell online after just a few minutes.
If you don’t want to complete these settings now, you can access them again via WooCommerce > Settings.
When you install and activate WooCommerce for the first time, it adds the following 4 pages to your website automatically:
- My account
Some (most) WooCommerce themes will also add a Wishlist page.
From the WooCommerce > Settings > General page, you can add additional details about your store:
- Countries you would like to sell to (I highly recommend you check your countries trade guidelines to figure out where you can sell)
- Countries you would ship to (verify with your shipping handler)
In the WooCommerce > Settings > Payments page, you need to choose the different ways in which you’ll let your users pay. WooCommerce supports PayPal, Stripe, Check, Cryto, Direct bank transfer, and cash on delivery (COD) payment methods. You can also request guidance from your payment processing company if you need a custom payment gateway solution, especially one that works with their systems.
Go through the other options (Shipping, Products, Products, Accounts & Privacy, Emails, etc.) until you’re done with setting up WooCommerce.
Now you are ready to start adding products to your store.
Step #4: Adding products to WooCommerce
WooCommerce offers an easy editor very similar to WordPress post editor for adding products. It lets you add a product title and description just like you’d add a blog post and its actual content. Once you add the product title and description, you need to configure the remaining product settings.
Below are the 6 main settings in detail. It is also important to note that some WooCommerce-enhancing plugins may add more settings to the product creation page.
Here, you have the field for listing the product price. You also have an optional field for adding a sale price.
Another cool feature is that you can choose to show the sale price between specific dates, which means you can automate the process of launching and closing an offer. You can also set the wholesale price in WooCommerce if you consider selling to both retail and wholesale customers.
The inventory option lets you add inventory details like the product’s SKU, stock status and more.
The SKU (stock-keeping unit) is a scannable bar code to help vendors automatically track the movement of inventory. SKUs are also used for units of repair time units, services, and warranties. Shopify gives an easy-to-understand definition of SKU. It says:
A SKU is a unique code consisting of letters and numbers that identify characteristics about each product, such as manufacturer, brand, style, color, and size.
Here’s an example Shopify shares:
A SKU for a pair of purple Ugg boots in the Bailey Bow style, size 7 might look something like this: UGG-BB-PUR-07.
Basically, you need to come up with a format for naming your product. If you’re selling Yoga pants in 3 different colors, your SKU could look like:
You get the idea, right?
Now, I’m sure your product is not as easy to name as the example I took. So, to help you better, I’ve dug up this awesome free SKU generator from TradeGecko (requires signup).
After the SKU field, the second option in the Inventory section is to choose if WooCommerce should manage the product’s stock.
When you enable the Manage stock? provision, 3 additional configuration fields appear:
- Stock quantity
- Allow backorders
- Low stock threshold
Here, all you need to do is specify the number of units that you have for a product. With this information, WooCommerce will know and even notify you when you’re running low on stock.
If you run out-of-stock, you can set WooCommerce to: Take a backorder (a backorder is an order for an out-of-stock product). Take a backorder and notify the customer about the stock status (tell the customer that you’ve booked the order but the product is out of stock and that you’ll ship when it’s available).
Never run out-of-stock. When you configure the Low stock threshold field, WooCoomerce will notify you when you are low on that particular item. Use it to set the availability of a product.
And the last preference Sold individually tells a user that they can only buy one piece of that particular product per order.
The Shipping section is pretty straightforward. Here, you just need to specify a product’s weight, dimensions, and class.
The value in the Shipping class of a product helps in calculating its shipping rates. So, if you sell products that can be easily categorized into classes like bulky, moderate, and light-weight, these three will become your shipping classes.
Once you’ve specified a shipping class, you can easily associate a shipping method to it. For example, you can choose a flat fee shipping method for items in the light-weight shipping class. A lot of shipping rate calculator plugins also use the value of the shipping classes to determine the shipping rates, so try to define proper shipping classes.
4. Linked Products
The Linked Products sections lets you make up-sells, cross-sells, and promote product groups in your store.
Up-sells: This means recommending a product that’s a little better than the product a user is currently checking out. For example, if a user if looking at a $45 headphone, in your up-sell section, you should recommend a $60 headphone.
Cross-sells: This means suggesting an item related to the item the user is checking out. For instance, if someone is looking at a monthly planner, in your cross-sell section, you should recommend daily and annual planners.
Grouping: In grouping, you bundle together related products and offer them as a package. So, if you sell photography equipment, you’ll bundle up items like a tripod, camera bag, SD cards and more and offer this group to your users.
WooCommerce lets you add custom product attributes to describe your product better.
For example, if you sell hoodies, you might want to add the different colors and sizes as custom attributes.
The Advanced section lets you add a personalized purchase note to the buyer.
Now that you understand the basics of how WooCommerce works, let’s see how you can choose the right theme for your store.
Step #5: WordPress plugins for WooCommerce
WooCommerce excels as a shopping store engine. But as you start selling, you’ll realize that you need more functionality in your store.
For example, you might want to:
- Enable customers to calculate shipping costs before placing an order,
- Offer dynamic pricing and coupons, or
- Follow up with the buyers who didn’t complete the purchase.
Unfortunately, such features aren’t built into WooCommerce. For these, you’ll have to use free or paid-for WordPress plugins for WooCommerce. Below, I’m recommending some of those plugins that add more functionality in your store.
WooCommerce plugins to handle cart abandonment
In 2020, eCommerce stores continue to battle cart abandonment. Cart abandonment is when a customer leaves without buying, after adding an item to their cart.
The truth is, as an eCommerce store you lose sales from cart abandonment.
Barilliance estimates that retailers over 3/4 of shoppers choose to leave the online stores without completing a purchase.
To recover the potential revenue loss from cart abandonment, a very effective tactic is to reach out to such buyers and prompt them to return to the store and complete the purchase. WooCommerce doesn’t have any in-built functionality to handle cart abandonment instances but here are some great plugins that can help.
#1: Abandoned Cart Lite for WooCommerce
This plugin lets you send email reminders to your customers or guest users who added products to their cart but didn’t complete the purchase.
Abandoned Cart Lite for WooCommerce claims that it can help you save up to 30% of your lost sales. It comes with a ready-to-use template that you can personalize with values like a customer’s name and product cart Information with a link to the abandoned cart.
This plugin’s PRO version gives you 3 templates and lets you start sending reminder emails within minutes of a cart abandonment instance; in the free version, you can only send reminders after an hour.
But the really cool feature is that it lets you give coupons and discounts in the reminder email. An email reminder with a discount is 100% more powerful than one without it because a discount offer gives a user an incentive to act fast.
Price: There is a free version and a Pro version at $119
#2: WooCommerce Recover Abandoned Cart
WooCommerce Recover Abandoned Cart plugin does all the things that the above plugin does and a lot more.
In addition to sending a series of automated email reminders (with discounts and coupons), WooCommerce Recover Abandoned Cart plugin also lets you fetch a user’s phone number for manually following up with them.
You can also monitor the performance of your follow up emails with this plugin’s reporting feature.
WooCommerce plugins for advanced product filtering
Most niches offer buyers a lot of options. For example, if you run an apparel store, you might want to let your buyers filter products using values like colors, sizes, materials, brands and more. By default, WooCommerce doesn’t support advanced filtering. Here are some plugins that can add this feature to your store.
#1: WooCommerce Products Filter (WOOF)
WOOF is a great free plugin to add basic filters to your online store.
This plugin’s premium version unlocks more filters like colors, labels, drop-downs, checkboxes and more. Also, the premium version includes analytics, so you can see the product specifications your users are actively searching for, and order more of those products.
#2. WooCommerce Products Filter
This plugin lets you offer custom filtering options to your visitors thereby enabling them to look for products super-fast. With this plugin, your visitors will be able to filter your products based on their attributes like color, size, availability, price range and more.
You can display these filters using several stunning layouts. I especially like the plugin’s sidebar, full-screen, and masonry layouts.
WooCommerce Products Filter supports tooltips too, so you can offer additional information when users hover over any filtering option/value. Plus, WooCommerce Products Filter gives in-depth analysis of the filters your customers routinely use. This information can give you more insight into what your customers want.
WooCommerce plugins for shipping, pricing, and discounts
As you saw in the above section on WooCommerce product configuration, WooCommerce gives just limited settings to price and ship products. But you can add advanced pricing and shipping rules with the following plugins:
#1. WooCommerce Extended Coupon Features
WooCommerce Extended Coupon is a free plugin that let you set conditions on which coupons are automatically added to a buyer’s cart. You can use it to set rules like: Give the buyer 5% discount if their cart value is greater than $500 or something.
#2: WooCommerce Dynamic Pricing & Discounts
This plugin introduces a whole new level of control to pricing your products. This plugin lets you set unlimited combinations of rules for a discount using values like the cart subtotal, number of items in the cart and many more.
For instance, you can set a rule like this: “Buy between 2 and 5 units get 10% discount, buy at least 6 get 20% discount”
You can also give freebies. For e.g,: “Free frame with each picture purchased”
To rush users into buying, you can even show the promotional offer’s validity (the start and end date) to boost sales.
WooCommerce Dynamic Pricing & Discounts can also be used to run a customer loyalty program, where you can offer more and higher discounts to loyal customers.
#3: WooCommerce Advanced Shipping
When it comes to shipping settings, again, WooCommerce just offers some very basic options like offering a flat rate or free shipping.
If you want more control over your shipping rates, you should get WooCommerce’s Advanced Shipping. This plugin lets you add a number of shipping rate calculating methods to your site.
You can use properties like weight, volume, stock status, delivery location and more to create custom shipping rates. You can also use it to offer free shipping when the cart value exceeds some pre-defined amount and when the order is ship to a particular region, or set percentage based shipping costs.
Find out more about the plugin. Price: $17
WooCommerce is a great solution to open an online store, but you can make it 100% more powerful by pairing it with a conversion-friendly theme and some extra plugins. This post will give all the guidance you need to get started.
I wish you lots of sales on your new store!
If you are looking for alternatives for your online store, here are the best online store builders you can check out.
FTC Disclosure: BBM receives referral fees from tools listed on this website. However, the opinions are based on our experience and not how much they pay. We focus on helping small businesses and individuals to build websites as a business.