In this post, I am showing you the best way to start an eCommerce website. There are many ways in starting your eCommerce store(like shopify,woocommerce,magento,bigcommerce, other shopping cart softwares etc). I assume you want to start an online ecommerce store, but you are not that sure about how to start it. This post helps you to start your eCommerce website in the best way.
So whats the best way to start your e-commerce store?
Answer: Bluehost+WordPress+Woocommerce+Woocommerce Theme.
Hmm... So what made me come to such a conclusion?
I am a Web Developer and has been working with various eCommerce platforms like Magento,Shopify, Opencart,Bigcommerce and many others(for 8 years) for various clients. I have also developed a shopping cart software. My judgment comes from this solid experience working in the eCommerce sector.
These are the factors I've considered in coming to this conclusion
- Pricing - Woocommerce is totally free while for hosted shopping carts like shopify, bigcommerce etc , you need to pay life long(also a small amount of your sales as fee). Consider long term, even if you are using the most basic plan of shopify, you have to pay $3,480 (for 10 years). If you are going for higher plans you have to pay $35,880(plus the per sale fees). Keep in mind that its real hard to change the ecommerce platform once its chosen(you have to re-add the products, keep the url structure and all, believe me, its a real pain).
- Design - I've developed some woocommerce themes for themeforest. And I can confidently says that woocommerce themes are the most good looking themes available in the industry. Themeforest wont approve sub standard designs, and you can see that a number of new woocommerce themes gets uploaded day by day in themeforest. All the designs are highly competitive, code is well written and highly secured.
- You keep your code - If you are running an offline store, its better you be the owner of your own property right? By using woocommerce, you can achieve this. All the code, transactions etc will stay on your own server.
- Light weight and fast loading - One of the biggest mistake in my life was to start an ecommerce store in magento for one of my important online business. Magento was notorious for slow loading speed and complexity, yet I decided go with magento(as my partner was a fan of magento, there was a general conception that woocommerce is suitable for small scale online business). But after 1 year of launch and facing lots of issues(like slow loading, bad feedback about design(we were using a magento theme), hacks(the store was hacked regularly)) we decided to change the store to woocommerce. Things got better afterall, the store loaded in seconds and the sales improved.
- A wide range of plugins and easy customization- The WordPress plugin library is filled with woocommerce extensions. There are lots of free woocommerce plugins for many functionalities. Also, when it comes to customization, its far easier to customize woocommerce compared to magento and all.
So hope you are convinced with what I said from my experience.
Now, let's have a look at 4 steps in starting an eCommerce store
Step 1: Register a domain and setup a hosting
The first step is to register a domain. You need a domain name for your e-commerce store, if you are not sure about your domain name, this article will help you in picking the right domain name for your ecommerce store.
Luckily, bluehost offer a free domain name along with their hosting, so that you can have it all in one account.
So, these screenshots will help you in setting up your bluehost account
1: Select the Pricing Plan
Bluehost does have 3 major plans(basic,plus and prime). To set up your first eCommerce store, I'd recommend you to take the basic plan. Initially, your blogs wont be having that much traffic so that the basic plan will be the perfect one to start with. Later on, once you build some traffic(visitors) to your blog, you can updgrade to bigger plans(this can save you some good money). The basic plan is $3.95 while plus and premium plans are $5.95 per month.
Well, you can go ahead with the plus or prime plans if you can get good amount of traffic initially. I am not at all against these plans, but what I meant is that you can always upgrade to higher plans anytime you want. This might probably save you some bucks.
Recommended: Basic Plan
2 :Register the domain
Enter the domain you want to register for your e-commerce store. You can enter a domain if you already have one, bluehost will show you how to transfer the domain to bluehost server.
3: Fill in your details and the payment details.
I am highly recommending you to uncheck the following options(which can save you some good money). Moreover, you don't need this in the initial stage.
- Domain Privacy Protection - Only select this if you want privacy for your domain,. Means you dont want to disclose the identity of the domain owner
- Site Backup Pro - Your blog wont be having tons of contents intially. So that, it wont be hard for you take backup initially. You can easily take your blogs backup using the Backup WordPress plugin. You can always select this option later(if you need this)
- Search Engine Jumpstart - This is not necessary, you always have the yoast seo plugin to make your blog seo friendly
- Site security lock - Not needed intitally, you can use this later once your blog gets established. This can save you some money
I am saying this because I dont use any of these additional features for my eCommerce store and everything is super cool for me.
Again, its all up to you, if you think you need privacy and backup feature, just go for it.
Approximate Pricing for Bluehost: 45-72 USD a year
Step 2: Install WordPress in your domain
Now you've set up the domain and hosting. The next thing is installling the WordPress in this domain in your bluehost. The one click install of bluehost makes this process so easy(like installing a software in your pc). If you want a complete guide about installing WordPress in your bluehost account, read this tutorial . I've given a quick tutorial below about installing WordPress in your bluehost using 1 cilck installation.
1. Login to your bluehost and select the Install WordPress option.
2. Click the Install Button
4. Enter the WordPress site title, username and password(to access the WordPress admin dashboard of your website)
5. Completing the WordPress Installation
Step 3: Install Woocommerce plugin in your WordPress
Now lets set up the WordPress ecommerce (Woocommerce) store.
1. Select Plugins>Add New
Once you log in to the dashboard, select the Plugins> Add New button
2. Search for "Woocommerce" and Press enter
3. Activate Woocommerce
After all you need to activate the Woocommerce. After activating woocommerce, you will be directed to a small survey page. You can select the Not Right Now(which can save 3 minutes of your life time) or complete the survey.
That's all! You are done! The store functionality is ready.
Step 4: Buy a Woocommerce theme and install it in your WordPress website.
The next step is to buy an apt Woocommerce theme for your woocommerce store. I would only recommend themeforest woocommerce themes as they have the best quality and the most good looking and high quality WordPress themes available in the industry(I've developed many WordPress themes for themeforest and their quality guidelines are top class).
Download the WooCommerce theme(installable zip file) and upload it to the WordPress theme directory.
Go to Appearance>Themes>Add New>Upload Theme
Once the theme has been uploaded you have to Activate the theme.
Approximate price of WooCommerce theme - 50$
Step 5: Integrate a Payment gateway in your WordPress-Woocommerce store.
After uploading a Woocommerce theme, your store will be ready. Now you need to integrate your payment gateway into your Woocommerce store. You have to take an account some payment gateway which is convenient for your like(stripe,braintree or whatever).
You'll get WordPress integration plugins for the payment gateway you are using. For instance lets try an example with stripe.
Go to Plugins>Add New and search for "Stripe" and press Enter.
Select the right plugin you are looking for and install it. Here you can use the first one and second one(I prefer the second one). Make sure, the plugin does have good start rating (I'd say something above 3.5).
Install the plugin and Activate it.
Configure the payment gateway plugin
You can configure the payment gateway at Woocommerce> Settings > Checkout > Stripe Payment
I am saying about Stripe here. If you are installing another payment gateway, you can take the settings of that payment gateway.
You have to enter your stripe account credentials here, like Secret Key, Publishable Key, Live Secret Key, Live Publishable Key etc. There are two modes Test mode for test transactions and Live Mode for live transactions.
Any payment gateway should have these basic configurations.
How to integrate Paypal with Woocommerce.
Go to the same Woocommerce payment checkout settings
Paypal comes default with Woocommerce, so you don't need to install any separate plugin for that.
Woocommerce> Settings > Checkout > PayPal
You can enter your paypal email, paypal receiver emails etc.
Once you've saved the settings, you can see the payment gateways integrated automatically in your checkout page.
Have a look at how I implemented paypal and stripe in my checkout page.
You can select your preferred payment gateway and make the payment and complete the purchase.
That's all with setting up your first eCommerce store! And all under 100 $.
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial in setting up the best ecommerce store for you using WordPress and Woocommerce.
You can contact me to help or implement an e-commerce website for you (I won't be charging for the first 50 enquires).