How to Use WooCommerce

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Build along with our WooCommerce tutorial to create your own online store

WooCommerce is a high quality (and very popular) free WordPress plugin. When configured, it will turn your regular WordPress site into a fully-fledged online store.

In this post, we’re going to teach you how to use WooCommerce in ten simple steps:

How to Use WooCommerce: 10 Setup Steps

  1. Set up your domain and hosting
  2. Install WordPress
  3. Install WooCommerce
  4. Complete your store profiler
  5. Add products
  6. Customize your store
  7. Set up shipping
  8. Set up taxes
  9. Configure payments
  10. Install extensions and plugins

We’re going to take you through the process from the very beginning, before you’ve even installed WordPress.

Just looking to add ecommerce functionality to an existing site? No problem! Skip straight ahead to step three.

Set Up Your Domain and Hosting

Hold up! Before we build your WooCommerce store, we need to lay down a solid foundation.

Choosing a web host

Web hosting is – to mix our housing metaphors – like renting a virtual plot of land for your website to sit on. A good web hosting company will do just that, and your website will run without a hitch. But a great web hosting company will go the extra mile, providing lots of helpful features and support to help with the process of actually building your website.

Why we recommend Bluehost

Bluehost is one such great web hosting company – it even came out top in our in-house hosting research. It offers WooCommerce-specific hosting, with everything you need to make building and running your WooCommerce store a walk in the park. And the help and support is excellent, too (we all tested it to make sure!)

Setup and pricing

Bluehost’s WooCommerce hosting plans start at $6.95/month, and all include a free domain name (this is your website’s virtual ‘address’ – ours is websitebuilderexpert.com). This means you’re killing two birds with one stone!

To get started with Bluehost, just pick your plan – you can always start on the cheapest one, and upgrade as you need. You’ll then be walked through the sign-up process, which takes around five minutes. You’ve got the option of a free setup call, too.

WooCommerce Plan Starter Price (/month) Renewal Price (/month)
Starter $6.95 $13.99
Plus $8.95 $17.99
Pro $12.95 $31.99

You have to commit to a year or more to sign up to Bluehost, which is a little long, especially considering most hosts offer the chance to pay month by month. That said, there’s a 45-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind. If you already have a site hosted with a different provider, Bluehost also has a free migration service to bring you on board.

Install WordPress

As promised, this is a super quick step! We’re assuming you have a Bluehost account at this point, but the process will be:

  1. Log into your Bluehost account
  2. From your dashboard, then select My Sites from the menu on the left
  3. Click the blue Create Site button in the top right corner
  4. Enter a name and tagline for your site, then click Next
  5. Select the domain name you chose earlier from the dropdown menu, then click Next
  6. WordPress will start being installed at this point – it may take a few minutes
  7. Once WordPress is installed, you’ll be given the option Login to WordPress

Now WordPress is installed, and you’re ready to start customizing your site. This won’t be live at your chosen domain name until you launch it, which we’ll do a little later on.

Install WooCommerce

Next up, we’re going to add WooCommerce to your WordPress site. It makes sense to do this first – WooCommerce has a bunch of great themes we’re going to choose from, so there’s no point in making any other changes just yet.

To install WooCommerce:

  1. In your WordPress dashboard, click Plugins on the menu down the left side
  2. Search for WooCommerce in the search bar, then click the gray Install Now button next to the WooCommerce plugin (there are a few variations, but you want the one that’s just called ‘WooCommerce’)
  3. After a few moments, this button will turn blue and read Activate. Click to activate the plugin.

This will then open WooCommerce’s setup wizard to configure your online store.

Complete Your Store Profiler

These next few stages are all about programming the basic details of your store. Some of these, like an address, you’ll probably already know. Others, you may still be working out. That’s okay. WooCommerce will guide you through adding all this information now, but it’s all changeable later down the line. And remember, your site isn’t live yet, so you’re all good!

1. Store location

First up, you’ll need to enter your business address. There’s also a box to check if you’re setting up your store on behalf of a client. Click the Continue button once you’re done.

A pop-up may appear at this stage, asking you to ‘Help build a better WooCommerce’ by allowing it to track non-sensitive data from your store. If you’d like to participate, just check the box (it’s not compulsory). Click Continue once you’ve decided either way.

2. Store industry

Next up, selecting an industry. You’ve got a range of seven broad industries to choose from here:

  1. Fashion, apparel and accessories
  2. Health and beauty
  3. Art, music and photography
  4. Electronics and computers
  5. Food and drink
  6. Home, furniture and garden
  7. CBD and other help-derived products

You can check multiple options. Can’t see your industry listed? Just select Other. Hit Continue once you’re done.

3. Product types

What kind of products are you going to be selling in your store? You can select any that apply from a choice of:

  1. Physical products – Products that you ship to customers
  2. Downloads – Virtual products that customers download
  3. Subscriptions – Anything that requires a regular payment for items/services (can be weekly, monthly, or annual). Enabling subscriptions costs $199/year
  4. Memberships – For giving exclusive access to content or products for members, either free or paid. Enabling memberships costs $199/year
  5. Composite products – For creating ‘product kits’, where the buyer chooses from different variables. Check out this worked through example of a digital camera for more info. Enabling composite products costs $79/year
  6. Bookings – For booking appointments, renting equipment, or making reservations on your site. Enabling bookings costs $249/year

Once you’re done selecting everything that applies, hit Continue.

4. Business details

At this stage, you’ll fill in a little info about what your business looks like now, and how many products you’re planning to sell.

Select how many products you’re planning to sell from the ranges provided in the first dropdown menu. Then, specify how you’re already selling your products (or if you aren’t doing so yet). Select the appropriate annual revenue bracket, and the platform you’re already using (e.g. Etsy). Don’t worry if you can’t be super exact with some of these questions – it’s just so WooCommerce can tailor your experience a bit.

Under these fields, you’ll see three extra tool options: Facebook marketing, MailChimp (for email), and Google Ads. Unless you know you won’t need these tools, you may as well add them for now (it’s free, after all).

Once again, hit Continue when you’re done.

5. Choose a theme

Your WooCommerce theme is like your design springboard. You can change the bare minimum (sub out the placeholder images, written content, and colors for your own), or really make it your own by tweaking the code of an existing theme, or having a designer create you a whole new one to upload.

Whatever your approach, you have two options:

  1. Choose from one of WooCommerce’s own free or paid themes
  2. Upload a third party or custom theme (proceed with a free WooCommerce one for now, and you can upload this later)

Of course, if you already have a theme you want to keep, you can carry on with that too.

The window you’ll see at this point invites you to continue with another theme, or choose from WooCommerce’s selection. We’d recommend WooCommerce’s own themes over just a general WordPress one, because they’re all set up to work really smoothly with the plugin. And what’s more, there are enough to choose from that you won’t end up with something that looks super generic.

WooCommerce has:

  • 3 free themes
  • 17 paid themes, costing between $39 and $129

It’s worth noting that only 13 of these themes are tagged as ‘responsive’, so choose one of these for a better mobile experience for your visitors. Some of WooCommerce’s paid themes have been developed by third parties, but have been approved by WooCommerce, hence appearing in its theme directory.

If you are choosing a new theme at this stage, don’t worry – it doesn’t have to be permanent. If you need more time to think about it, select a free one for now (we like ‘Storefront’), and browse again later. Press Choose to select the theme you want, and move through to the next stage.

WooCommerce Services and JetPack

You’ll see a pop up window at this stage prompting you to ‘enhance your store with JetPack and WooCommerce Services’. This combination will help with:

  • Managing your store on the go (i.e. from your phone)
  • Automating sales tax (based on location)
  • Improving your site’s speed and security

Again, it’s free to add these on, and easy to remove them later if you wish, so we’d recommend clicking Yes please! when invited to add these to your store.

Now you’ve completed your Store Profiler, you’ll be shown a checklist of tasks left to complete before you can launch your store. We’ll now walk through these steps in what we’ve found to be the most logical order, starting with adding your products.

Add Products

It’s time for the fun part – adding your products! In our experience, it’s best to get the core details of your products in at this stage, so you have a fuller picture of how your store looks and works before you move on to the customization phase.

We’ll be assuming you’re uploading products for the first time. If you’re migrating over from another site, check out WooCommerce’s guide to using the Cart2Cart plugin for help moving your products over.

Top tip: Nothing to sell yet? WooCommerce has sample product data you can use for now, just to get a feel for how everything works.

When uploading from scratch, you have two options:

  1. Add products manually (quick enough if you don’t have a load of products)
  2. Uploading all your product info in one spreadsheet, aka a CSV (worth doing if you have a lot of products)

When you click on Add my products on your store checklist, you’ll see an option for each one. We’ll show you how to do both.

1. Add products manually

On your website dashboard, select Products on the left hand menu, then Add Product.

Start by adding your product title, then a short product description. You should also upload any product photos here, selecting one as the primary product image.

You also need to add a category using the menu on the right hand side. We’ll walk through this example with a vase. In this case, you might want the category to be ‘vases’ (if you have a lot of vases) or ‘homeware’ if you only have a few, but have other home products. Simply press + Add new category, name your category, then save it and select it as your chosen option (unselect ‘uncategorized’ at this point, too).

In the product data box underneath, there’s some technical information to fill in:

1. Product data

Products can fall into seven different categories:

  1. Simple
  2. Grouped
  3. External/Affiliate
  4. Variable
  5. Downloadable
  6. Virtual
  7. Subscription

Our vase is a simple product because it’s a physical item that needs shipping, and it doesn’t come in any variations (e.g. different colors), which would make it a variable product.

Not sure which product category to pick? WooCommerce has an excellent guide to each product type, and how to upload them, so head there if you’re unsure.

For now, let’s carry on with our vase.

2. General

Under the general tab, add in:

Price – this is the price that will display for this product

Sale price – when you put this product on sale, this discounted price will display (until 11.59pm on the last day)

Taxable – select either taxable, shipping only, or none

Tax class – pick whichever tax class applies

3. Inventory

Add an SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) for your product, and check the box next to ‘enable stock management at a product level’ if you want your product’s stock status to be updated automatically (recommended). If left unchecked, you’ll need to update this manually every time a product comes in or out of stock.

If you check this box, more fields will appear:

Stock quantity – how much of this product you have ready to sell

Allow backorders – this is a yes/no option; will you allow pre orders on your site?

Low stock threshold – set when you want to be notified that you’re low on stock (e.g. when ten of a product are left)

Sold individually – check this box to limit the sale of this product to one per order

4. Shipping

Here’s where you add some details to help automatically calculate the shipping costs and details:

Weight – item weight

Dimensions – item dimensions

Shipping class – shipping classes allow you to quickly classify a product based on ‘shipping classes’ you’ve already set up. An example could be ‘bulky’, or ‘lightweight’. Shipping classes can either be used to help group similar types of products together for shopping, or to be able to offer different ‘tiers’ of flat rate shipping depending on the size of an item.

5. Linked Products

Here’s your chance to build links between this product and others on your site to encourage your customers to buy more than one item. Search from your existing product log to add products in the following fields:

Up-sells – these are items that are complementary to the item you’re updating. Taking our vase example, this could be a bunch of dried flowers.

Cross-sells – these are the ‘you may also like’ products. In this case, it would most likely be a selection of similar-looking vases, or other homeware with the same design.

Grouping – this doesn’t apply to us as we’re working with a simple product, but if your product is a grouped product (i.e. sold as one component of a larger, customizable package), here’s where you’d link it up with the other products

6. Attributes

This is where you can select ‘qualities’ of your product (e.g. its colour or size), which a customer can filter by when searching for something specific. This is also where you add variations for your variable products. In both cases, you need to add attributes first, which you can then go back and select at this stage.

7. Advanced

A final few (optional) details:

Purchase note – any message you want to send to the customer after they buy this product

Menu order – you can choose how far up the category this product appears

Enable reviews – check this box to allow customers to leave a review for this product

2. Upload products with a CSV

A CSV is basically a spreadsheet where you enter all the information we’ve covered above. It saves a bit of time to do this all in one place, rather than individually.

To upload your products using a CSV:

  1. Download a sample CSV from Github
  2. Replace the sample information with your own product information, and save it
  3. From your dashboard, go to Products
  4. Click the Import button at the top
  5. Upload your CSV file, and click Continue
  6. WooCommerce will now attempt to match up the columns on your CSV file with its required fields. You can select a different one from the dropdown if these don’t quite match up
  7. Once you’re done, click Run the importer. This part may take a few minutes, but don’t refresh

Customize Your Store

Next up on your checklist is to personalize your store. Now at this stage, WooCommerce just walks you through some basics, which only takes a couple of minutes. You can absolutely make bigger changes later on, but this is just a great start to get the store looking more like your own.

First up, choose a homepage from the autogenerated selection from WooCommerce, and tweak it with your own content. Next, upload your logo.

You then have the option to choose to display a prominent message across the whole site. This is the perfect place for a promotion, or to advertise free shipping, for example.

Set Up Shipping

Finalising basic shipping information will only take a few moments.

  1. First, confirm your business address, or add it if you haven’t already. Press Continue
  2. Next, set a flat shipping rate for within your own country
  3. Next, add a rate for the rest of the world, or disable delivery to the rest of the world if that won’t be an option
  4. Click Complete task once you’re done

Set Up Taxes

Next up, taxes! Don’t worry, we promise this will be quick and painless, because Jetpack is going to do all the work for you right now.

  1. Again, you’ll be asked confirm your store’s location
  2. Next up, you’ll be invited to connect your store. Click the Connect button, and follow the instructions on the screen
  3. Once this stage is complete, you’ll be invited to use Jetpack to automate your taxes. Click Yes please, or opt to set taxes up manually if you’d prefer

Configure Payments

Let’s choose your payment options next. Now, when you click on the payment task on the list, you’ll be shown the available payment options for your country and industry.

If you’re in the US, you’ll be shown the options:

  1. WooCommerce Payments
  2. Stripe
  3. PayPal

If you’re offering bookable in-person services, Square will also be shown as an option.

Some european countries (including the UK) also have the option of Klarna, a ‘buy now pay later’ provider.

All these payment extensions are free to install. The more payment options your customers have, the better, so go crazy at this stage – you can always disable them later.

Any other payment methods? No problem – you can allow for cash and bank transfer once you’ve gone through the payment provider setup process.

Install Extensions and Plugins

Last but not least, it’s time to explore the extra extension and plugin options on offer with WooCommerce.

Now, we’ve encountered a fair few of these already (for payment options, product types etc), but there’s a whole load of other functionality you can add to your store right now, or later on.

  1. Marketing – For help promoting your store
  2. Analytics – For help understanding what’s working for your store, and what isn’t
  3. Shipping – Link your store up with the big shipping companies to see the latest rates
  4. Accounting – Make it easier to balance the books with accounting software integrations
  5. Bookings/subscriptions – As mentioned above, both these types of payments require their own paid plugin

But there’s a whole load of others besides that (WooCommerce has over 330 paid and free plugins), so it’s worth taking your time to browse through the big hitters. But again, this is something you can easily come back to at a later date.

How to Use WooCommerce: Summary

By now, you have a fully-functioning, on brand WooCommerce store. Of course, we totally expect you’ll want to make some further tweaks down the line. But for now, our work here is done. You’re ready to set your site live!

Let’s remind ourselves of the ten steps that got us to this point:

How to Use WooCommerce: 10 Steps

  1. Set up your domain and hosting
  2. Install WordPress
  3. Install WooCommerce
  4. Complete your store profiler
  5. Add products
  6. Customize your store
  7. Set up shipping
  8. Set up taxes
  9. Configure payments
  10. Install extensions and plugins

Thank you so much for building along with our guide. Please do leave a comment to show us what you created!

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About Hannah Whitfield

Hannah Whitfield

I’m Website Builder Expert’s Content Manager, which means I’m in charge of checking everything written for our site, as well as writing my own articles.

I started writing about the wonderful world of the web around two years ago, and haven’t looked back since. Put simply, there’s never been a more exciting time to get online. Having tested all of the best website builders and ecommerce platforms on the market, I’m in a great position to help you do just that!

I hope you find our articles helpful, and please feel free to pop me a message with anything else you’d like to see here on Website Builder Expert.

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