E-commerce is now the fastest growing retail sector in the world, and online shopping sales are expected to double by 2020. Whether you’re selling physical goods, digital downloads, or services, there has never been a better time to open an online store.
Bluehost has devoted plenty of blog space to helping small business owners rapidly set up their WordPress blogs and create engaging content to push them to the top of the search engine page. But for those who want to create an e-commerce site, the process can be a bit more intimidating — especially for those who are new to the realm of online retail.
Even if you don’t have extensive coding skills or fully understand all the jargon associated with selling your products or services online, you can still build a great e-store and connect with consumers everywhere in just a few simple steps.
Bluehost: Optimized for Ecommerce
Bluehost for ecommerce is a smart move, especially if you are on a tight budget or plan on using WordPress and/or WooCommerce for your store. Not only are they the recommended hosting provider for WordPress but also for WooCommerce.
BlueHost lets you start selling on your online store within minutes as the WooCommerce application is simple and easy to install.
In addition to ease of use you also get added benefits like a free domain for a year and a Free SSL security with every account that has a dedicated IP address (exclusive to the Pro Plan). If you have a WordPress site hosted through Bluehost you get a shared SSL certificate which you can turn on in the cPanel. At $6.95 a month, it is hard to beat Bluehost’s hosting package for your WooCommerce powered WordPress store.
Last but not least, you get a promotional offer of $100 – $300 in Google advertising credits with each new Bluehost account. Meaning you can start driving traffic and hopefully getting some sales in a matter of hours with your new store.
Steps on How to Set Up an E-Commerce Store on WordPress
Step 1: Choose Your Web Hosting Service
If you don’t already have a reliable web hosting partner, that is an excellent place to start. With a full service host, like Bluehost, you can get your domain name and choose the ideal package for your business goals.
When you choose your web service, you’ll also need to decide whether to use a standard extension — like .com or .net — or a new Top Level Domain (TDL), such as .coffee or .NYC. Keep in mind that your domain name is more than just an online name — it can impact your credibility and competitive status for years in the future.
Step 2: Choose Your E-Commerce Platform for your WordPress Store
Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce are some of the top e-commerce platforms recommended by tech experts.
If you decide to use a hosted online business solution like WooCommerce, you can simplify your setup process and get your domain name from the same vendor. Look for options that are intuitive, adaptable, and scalable so that your software will accommodate your growing business rather than having to switch platforms as your customer base expands or you add new items to your product portfolio.
Since 39 percent of all online stores use WooCommerce (more than any other platform), it’s obvious that they know what they’re doing when it comes to helping e-retailers manage their inventory. WooCommerce already comes with PayPal, Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services (BACS) for direct debit and credit, and cash on delivery.
And if you want another payment gateway, they offer several extensions. It’s easy to adjust your shipping methods too.
Step 3: Build Your New E-Commerce Site in WordPress
Because you don’t need any coding skills or a lot of time to build an online retail store with WooCommerce, we recommend this software to our small business owners. WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, and we offer special services and pricing for our customers.
1. Install WordPress Plugin
Here’s how to install it:
Log in to WordPress and navigate your way to the Administration panel.
Select “Plugins” then “Add New.”
Search for WooCommerce — just type the full name and hit enter. You can view specs such as the ratings and description if you want more information before installing the software.
If you are sure this is the software solution for you after reviewing the details, click the “Install Now” button.
Answer the pop-up “Yes.”
Wait. WordPress will complete the installation. You’ll receive an on-screen notice when the install is complete.
It’s just that simple. The built-in wizard walks you through the process step-by-step so you don’t miss any vital pages, like product pages and shipping and taxes info.
After you’ve installed the plugin, you’ll have the option to set up and create necessary pages.
Other WordPress E-Commerce Plugins
2. Create Your Pages
This is as easy as clicking on the “Continue” button.
3. Configure Shop Locale
After you create pages, define your locality so the system can display info in the proper terms. In this step you answer basic questions about currency and measurement language (i.e. kilos or pounds, dollars or euros, plus package dimension guidelines for domestic and international shoppers).
4. Set Up Shipping and Taxes
The shipping and tax screens let you define tax rates and shipping and handling policies, including any domestic/foreign limitations related to product sales. If you haven’t got a clue what tax rate to charge, don’t stress. WC has an intuitive feature that offers suggestions on your locality, and you can always go back and tweak the details later.
5. Configure Payment Gateways
Here you’ll establish which payment gateways to offer your customers. You can select from standard options like C.O.D., ACH (bank transfer), and Paypal, or non-traditional payment options by installing add-ons immediately or later.
And that’s it! At this point, you can either tell WooCommerce to set product data and generate your first product pages or add individual products manually. We recommend that you review this Torque article if you are planning to build-out your own product pages or you want to get a peek at the wizard screen shots before you start the onboarding process.
Step 4: Customize Your E-Commerce Store
Installing the software means you have officially “built” a new online store, but don’t stop now. It’s time to customize your store to deliver high-quality content and a stellar user experience to drive sales.
Check out the following resources for tips and suggestions to help you build out your store to attract — and convert — a steady stream of customers.
Test all links — pretty bells and whistles are pointless if site users cannot navigate smoothly to the checkout page.
Consider using site-promoting products, like the WC Showcase that helps you get your site noticed in a sea of competitors.
Leverage tools like LiketoKnow.it that drive Instagram users to your site. Not familiar with this marketing tool? Watch this short video that covers the basics in less than 2 minutes.
More than 8 out of 10 consumers trust online reviews as much as referrals and recommendations from friends and family. Make it easy for consumers to leave reviews on your site and share your content.
Add social media buttons to your site. Pew Research found that nearly 75 percent of all online adults use social media daily. Twitter has more active users than the entire population of Indonesia. Facebook has almost as many users as the population of China (about 1.37 billion people).
Don’t Forget to add Google Analytics to track user behavior & create a blog for your WordPress Online Store to help drive traffic to your store.
WordPress eCommerce Themes
Themes are a core component of the WordPress system, and thousands of them are available in both free and premium versions from the WordPress theme directory, and from third-party developers all over the world. Themes define a site’s appearance and layout, and some themes are designed to support specific functions, including eCommerce.
eCommerce friendly free themes, like the mobile responsive Shop Isle and The Store, offer users different ways to showcase products, add landing pages and featured product images in galleries, and even run a blog.
Premium versions of these and other themes include more features to round out the essentials of an online store, but users may still need to add some essential functions with plugins, such as shopping carts and payment portals.
Some, such as the Storefront eCommerce theme, are directly compatible with WooCommerce, the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin of them all.
Along with themes and the core code, eCommerce plugins for WordPress round out the list of essentials that make up a site. And like themes, there are countless plugins set to perform specific functions of all kinds on a basic WordPress site.
eCommerce related plugins for WordPress range from full storefronts to dedicated plugins that allow you to set up individual features like shopping carts, payment portals, and more.
The most famous WordPress e-commerce plugin is WooCommerce, which powers over 40 percent of the web’s e-commerce community. WooCommerce can be installed on any compatible WordPress site and adds the full spectrum of research related features to a basic site and theme.
The free version of WooCommerce offers all the essentials, and the premium version adds additional features, plus extended support.
WooCommerce may be the best known and most widely used WordPress e-commerce plugin, but it isn’t the only one. A large and growing number of other plugins such as WP eCommerce and EStore also add a fully functioning online store to WordPress sites of all kinds.
Some, like Easy Digital Downloads, support a particular kind of product or service, while others are designed for building a membership or subscription site.