There are over 2.3 million ecommerce stores hosted on the WooCommerce platform, and for good reason. WooCommerce makes creating your own store quick and easy. With Hostdedi, WooCommerce solutions combine great functionality, an intuitive interface, and a powerful managed hosting platform to provide merchants with an ecommerce foundation that drives growth.
However, the question remains: How can you set up your WooCommerce store to start selling quickly and effectively?
This WooCommerce walkthrough will take you from ordering your managed WooCommerce solution with Hostdedi to creating your first product and customizing your storefront’s look and feel. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a fully operational storefront that’s bringing in revenue and attracting customers.
What You Need:
- A hosted WordPress or WooCommerce solution
- An active internet connection (unless you’re going to be testing on a local account)
- Around 20 minutes of your time
- A fiery passion for ecommerce (optional)
Step 1: Ordering a Managed WooCommerce Solution
What’s a WooCommerce store without a hosting platform? To get started you’ll need a strong foundation to build your WooCommerce store on. This will help dictate the speed, security, and scalability of your store, and have a direct impact on the support you can receive.
There are a number of different hosting solutions available to merchants and freelancers. However, we recommend opting for a WooCommerce cloud solution. Start by visiting our WooCommerce managed hosting page, and selecting the right size solution for your needs.
The right size solution depends on a number of factors. The most important of these is the number of users that visit your store at any one time. This is because we grade our cloud solutions based on the number of PHP workers they can support. This is the number of concurrent users who can be performing an action on your site at any one time. Learn more about what PHP workers are and how they affect your site’s performance.
Not sure what size is right for your store? Talk it over with a member of the Hostdedi team. We’ll provide advice on sizing, integrations, and anything else you need to know.
If this is your first storefront then we recommend opting for the smaller plans. These will help you to get started and once you start to see more traffic, they can instantly be upgraded in your Client Portal with a click.
Once you have completed this stage, you’ll be able to log into your Client Portal and access your WooCommerce admin panel. From there, the first thing you’ll need to do is set up your store’s main properties with the WooCommerce setup wizard.
For WooCommerce setup documentation regarding site migration, visit our Knowledge Base to learn more.
Step 2: The WooCommerce Setup Wizard
Once you’ve installed and activated WooCommerce, you need to complete a short WooCommerce setup wizard. To do this, locate the left hand panel and find WooCommerce. Click it. If WooCommerce isn’t present then refresh the page and it should appear.
After you’ve navigated to the WooCommerce page, you’ll find a button under the page title called Run the Setup Wizard. Click this and prepare to let WooCommerce know everything you want your store to be (almost).
Remember, everything you set throughout this WooCommerce setup process can be changed at a later date. WooCommerce is an incredibly flexible solution for merchants and it’s almost impossible to get locked into any one particular solution.
Begin WooCommerce Store Setup
The first group of information we need to let WooCommerce know is where we are, who we are, what type of product we’re selling, and what primary currency we’re going to be charging in. If you have multiple currencies then don’t worry. We’ll cover this later. For now, opt for your local currency.
The information here doesn’t have to be entirely accurate, although it will prevent revisiting setup at a later date if it is. Once you’re finished, click Continue to be taken to the Payment page (for configuring how people will be paying you).
Set up Your WooCommerce Payments
WooCommerce offers some powerful and flexible payment gateway options by default. Both Stripe and Paypal allow you to accept credit cards and Paypal orders. They also sync well with your external accounts.
However, sometimes Stripe and Paypal aren’t the right solutions. Whether this is because you’re already used to an alternate payment gateway, or because you don’t like the transaction fees of the default, there are a number of alternatives available.
Cost is going to be an important consideration with regard to your payment gateway. Some SaaS platforms, which attract merchants with low monthly subscriptions, quickly become much more expensive once you add costly transaction fees to the mix.
WooCommerce does not, by default, charge transaction fees. From a WooCommerce pricing perspective, this often makes it more cost-effective than SaaS alternatives.
If you decide to change from the default payment gateways, ensure that you research transaction fees, security, and support. There are 100+ payment gateway options available as WooCommerce extensions and each has its own set of conditions and features.
If you’re unsure, then we recommend first-time store owners use Stripe and Paypal. Both are industry-leading businesses that offer no transaction fees and guarantee payment security for your customers.
Setting up Shipping
It’s now time to set up your shipping information. Here, you’re going to need to input your shipping zones to help calculate shipping rates. If you’re a beginner, we advise leaving these as their default options.
Remember, these options can all be edited at a later date or expanded upon with additional plugins if you need.
You’ll also need to input the weight and dimension units you’re using. We recommend going with the most frequently used unit in your primary geographic location. For instance, if you are running a store in the US, oz and inches are likely the best fit. If, however, you’re running a store in the UK, it’s better to opt for kg and cm. Metric or Imperial, you decide.
Once you’ve finished with this screen, again, click Continue.
A Few Extra Things
The final stage of the setup offers some optional plugins to install if you think they may fit your store. We’ll leave this up to your better judgment on whether you think they are suitable. If you’re unsure, we recommend getting in touch with a developer to see how these plugins will benefit you.
Once you’ve finished, you can then activate your WooCommerce install at the next screen and you’re ready to go.
Step 3: Creating Your First Product
What use is an ecommerce store without products?
This step will help you to create your first product so that it’s ready to go live on your WooCommerce site.
We’ll be covering the areas of:
- Shipping costs
Remember, WooCommerce has a lot of added functionality over just plain WordPress. This functionality has been designed specifically for the purposes of ecommerce. We’re going to want to use as much of this as possible.
Before you get started with this step, there are a few things you’re going to need:
- Some product photography – WooCommerce has a great blog post on how to create inexpensive product photography. Alternatively, you can use photos of products from suppliers.
- Content and copy for product descriptions and names.
- An idea of what SKUs you’re going to use (if you’re running a big store).
Now that you’ve gotten all of that sorted, head to WooCommerce down the left sidebar => Products => New Product.
You can enter your product name at the top and a product description at the bottom. Note that the product description here will be the long product description located below the product — not the short description located next to the image.
Once you’ve finished loading your content here, you’re ready to move onto some of WooCommerce’s finer product setup features.
Advanced product data gives you a chance to select the price for your item, set inventory, organize its SKU, and more.
Along the top, you’ll notice two tick boxes for Virtual and Downloadable. If you are selling items that don’t require shipping, you can tick these and WooCommerce will ignore shipping rates.
This is where you can set the short description as shown above. It’s advisable to keep this section short as it will act as one of the first things a prospective buyer will see. Keep it catchy and fun – product specifics belong in the long description below.
Step 4: Adding Images, Product Galleries, Categories, and Tags
The next step for adding your first WooCommerce product to your catalog is including images and categories. To do this, you just need to head to the right side of your WYSIWYG-like WooCommerce editor.
Here you’ll find the category options. You can add new ones if you wish to. These are incredibly helpful for aiding customers in their conversion journey and making sure they enjoy an easy and intuitive user experience. Tags can also be used to help with this and, once again, we highly recommend you use them — especially if you are running a large store.
Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to input pictures. WooCommerce has put together a great guide on how to go about improving product photography for your ecommerce store. We highly recommend making sure your product photography is high quality. This is because it is one of the most significant page elements involved in effecting conversions.
To add your primary product image, scroll to where it says Product Image and upload and select your image. Below this, you can add additional images to be featured in the product gallery, this way you can exhibit different aspects of your item. In creating a page for the incredible Hostdedi swag notebook, we’ve shown what it looks like from the front in the product image, and then a look at the inside in the product gallery.
Step 5: Exploring WooCommerce Themes
It’s important to customize the look and feel of your site so it stands out before taking your WooCommerce store live. To do this, you’re going to want to see the range of different themes already available — or possibly customize your own.
This guide will not go into how to create your own WooCommerce themes – that’s for another article – but we will direct you to where you can change theme settings and choose from a selection of pre-built ones.
To do this, head to Appearance down the left side of your WooCommerce dashboard. From here, you can select Themes to look at a range of different pre-built WooCommerce themes, or you can select customize to change elements on your site easily. This includes repeat elements like site titles, logos, and more. You can also take a look at Plugins, below Appearance, for a list of extensions you can add to your WooCommerce store to expand functionality.
Complete Your WooCommerce Setup With the Right Hosting Foundation
When setting up your WooCommerce store, the last thing you want is to experience site slowdowns and configuration issues. Instead, make your WooCommerce experience as easy as possible with Hostdedi managed WooCommerce solutions. We help you take care of the management and configuration of your site and bundle up to $6,000 in integrations, so you can focus on creating the store and customer experience you want.