So, how do you set up an E-Commerce Website?
Well, although there are numerous other ways to set up an E-Commerce site, we specialise in WordPress, so we’re going to use that. I’ll not run over setting up WordPress, as we’ve covered that elsewhere and I’ll assume you’ve set up a site already. How to build your own Website!
So, assuming you’ve got that set up, what you need to do is extend the functionality of WordPress with a plug in. So in the main menu of WordPress you need to head on over to the Plugins option, and use the search function there to search for WooCommerce, and select and install it. It’ll take a few moments to download it and Install it, but once that is done, you need to activate it.
WooCommerce is an amazing addition to WordPress, and it walks you through the steps to setting up your E-Commerce site, taking you through the country and currency that you’re operating in. The shipping measurements, and the payment gateway you’ll be using to accept payment. Then finally it will ask you to install a theme compatible with WooCommerce.
The suggested theme is Storefront, and is a plain but useable Theme for WordPress, and it is a good one to start off with, however if you don’t like it, you can search the Theme’s in the Appearance section of WordPress and look for WooCommerce, and you’ll find dozens of compatible themes.
However, it is possible to operate a WooCommerce store without installing a compatible theme, however it will make the users journey less than optimal (something which can be resolved by adding their cart to your main menu, and certain other tweaks), but it is not recommended.
WooCommerce has it’s own range of plugins, which add functionality to it, including different payment gateways, product displays, and shipping calculators, these can be very handy indeed, but you’ll find that the most useful of these require a purchase, so it’s up to you to calculate whether the value of these is worth the asking price, as it’s very easy to want all the functions these provide you and your customers, without them adding any real value to the site.
A payment gateway is how your E-Commerce store accepts customer payments, and can be the hardest part to set up. There are many options, and if you’re a company with a company bank account you’ll find yourself with a few hoops to jump through to set this up, but these are not insurmountable, just a little of a pain. Setting these up I recommend having your book-keeper or accountant to hand to help answer the required questions.
The simplest option to get around all this is to use Paypal, setting up your Paypal account for business is easy enough, and it’ll give you the keys to enter into your website and start accepting payments. The disadvantage of Paypal is the percentage cut they take of each sales, but you’re going to have to pay a payment gateway in one way or another, and the convenience of Paypal is worth the few extra pennies it costs. It’s only once you start doing serious business through your store that it’ll really cost you, and if you reach that point you can upgrade.
Now the time consuming bit, setting up your products, you’re obviously going to need their price, a description and title, and realistically you’ll need a picture of the product. If you’ve only one or two things, then this is easy enough, but if you’ve 700, then this is going to take some serious time.
When setting up products, if you’ve only one or two, then you don’t really need to bother with categories, but if you’ve more than 10 products, you’ll really need to start separating them out into different categories, so that customers can more easily find them (imagine going on Amazon, and absolutely everything was just bundled in together, trying to find a James Bond DVD, when all the DVD’s, books, video-games and aftershave were all showing up in one massive list, it’d be horrible).
Depending on the number of products, you might wish to separate everything out even further with sub-categories, so that t-shirts can be found amongst clothing, breakfast serials amongst food, etc.
One last thing worth mentioning is shipping, there is very little chance of every single order requiring the same shipping costs, what if someone is buying a single t-shirt and someone else is buying 500, or someone is buying a badge, and someone else buying a crate of wine. The different size and weight of orders is going to mean different costs for shipping, especially considering do you ship to the Scottish Islands, or Internationally, the costs will be very different for different areas, so look into this first, and make sure you cover your costs.
Don’t rely on an average shipping cost, and don’t make a loss on shipping on any single order, as if that type of order becomes the most popular, then your site will lose you money.
The above will get you a functioning E-Commerce site, and while there’s plenty you may wish to consider, for example you might consider using social media plugins to help build your site into a Marketing Funnel, you’ve now got the basics to build on, and build your sales from here.
If you’ve any questions, or want to discuss anything in this article, please get in touch through our email, social media, or the many other ways, listed in our contacts page. Thanks for reading.