Easy Ecommerce with Woo Commerce

About this lesson

You will likely notice that this lesson has a slightly different tone and structure than most of the others. The original version of this lesson was created by Andrew Nolan, a student, in Spring 2018. Andrew did a great job, but since then, I have updated the lesson with a few more details and some changes to keep pace with the latest version of Woo Commerce.

Why Woo Commerce?

Have you ever wanted to build an ecommerce site complete with shopping cart? If you google ecommerce builder and overwhelming number of options will appear. Some ask for money, some may seem kind of sketchy, etc. The good news is that the WordPress ecosystem includes an excellent ecommerce platform named Woo Commerce. Even better, the basic installation of Woo Commerce costs $0.00.

Let’s go through the basic installation of WooCommerce, and get ready to start your online store!

Install a new WordPress site

Revisit the WordPress installation lesson and install a brand new site at yourdomain/commerce.  Login and move to the next step.

Install Woo Commerce

To install Woo Commerce from your dashboard navigate to WordPress Admin > Plugins > Add New, search for “woocommerce”, and click on “Install Now.” Make sure the author is Automattic (yes with two t’s). Once it is installed, click “Activate”.

Step 2 – Startup Wizard

Once you have activated the plugin you will immediately be taken to a Setup Wizard. This interface will take you through all the necessary setup procedures for your store before you can configure products.

Click “Yes Please” and get started.

  1. The first couple of screens asks for location information and for basic info about your products. Add at least two products with images. If you don’t have anything that you want to actually sell at this point, make something up! If you search for images to use, it’s a good idea to use images that are labeled for reuse. With the google image search console, just click tools and this option should appear.

  2. Since this is not yet a real store, disable the marketing options shown below.

  3. Choose a theme. I opted for the free storefront.
  4. You probably want to skip the Jetpack, etc. enhancements for now.
  5. Add your first product. WooCommerce is pretty good about leading you through the various options.
  6. Explore the WooCommerce Dashboard. Set up some shipping options. Once again, WooCommerce makes the process so easy that you shouldn’t need instructions from me!
  7. You probably want to skip the payment options for now.If we were pretending you were setting up a payment option: 

    Both PayPal and Stripe come integrated by default. I would recommend looking at both and seeing their fee structure and what would benefit you the most when deciding what to actually use.

    Here’s a link to compare their fees: Stripe vs PayPal. The main difference is Stripe charges you less fees in most cases, and allows you to have an integrated checkout solution on your site by default. PayPal requires you to subscribe to PayPal Payments Pro for the same features.

    Either way, they’ll both be installed and usable on your site. They both allow for a solid solution right out of the gate, but plenty of other options are available for more specific use cases.

  8. Set up your homepage.

Get Creative and enjoy!

At this point the design and function of your store is up to you. I used to have very detailed instructions that took hours of work to produce, but WooCommerce changed their interface dramatically. See how far you can take this without spending anything, or committing to spend anything!

Make the best site that you can but don’t spend forever on this, and make sure you have fun! My main goal is for you to leave this exercise with the confidence that you can use WooCommerce and WordPress to create an online store should you want or need to.