I have two modes when it comes to shopping. I have reluctance and impulse. For the former, it is a miracle if I actually end up making the purchase. The latter means that I have bought it before even thinking about it. And to be honest, that’s the only difference between the two. Given a long enough walk to a cash register can slip me into reluctance mode where I most likely will not go through with the sale. Because of this, I have to be really careful around eCommerce sites. The near-instant check-out process has gotten me into hot water more than once.
Do you know how to build a WordPress eCommerce site? It is pretty easy to do, but there are some specific requirements. It does not really count to just tell people on your website to Venmo money to you. There is no order, invoice, or consumer protection with that model. Plus, any more than the occasional customer will take up a lot of your time to process. If you are going to build an eCommerce site, you need to do it right.
If you want to know how to create an eCommerce website in WordPress, use the table of contents below.
Table of Contents
Why Use WordPress eCommerce?
Before looking into why to use WordPress, let’s ask, “what is eCommerce on WordPress?” From Etsy and Amazon to websites run by small business owners, we have all encountered eCommerce. Any time when a financial transaction goes through a website, that is eCommerce. So when you make an Amazon order and pay for it, that is eCommerce. When you pay a bill through a company’s website, that is eCommerce too.
WordPress eCommerce specifically means an eCommerce website using the WordPress Content Management System (CMS). WordPress is a platform for creating websites and building web pages. Many platforms for websites accommodate eCommerce, so WordPress does not corner the market. However, some quirks make WordPress the best choice.
First, WordPress is free. The CMS is free at all levels. No matter how big your website gets, you never pay for WordPress. But where WordPress really shines is that it is open-source.
WordPress actually does not support eCommerce right off the bat. Instead, it is designed to let others create addons for the CMS. This gives all of its users a lot of freedom to use the features they really want instead of forcing them to use a suite of products WordPress provides. This means you have a lot of options for using eCommerce on your website. Later, we go into how plugins affect your website.
How to Build a WordPress eCommerce Site
There are a few things that make building an eCommerce site different from other sites. Of course, the initial steps are the same as building any kind of website through WordPress. If you are interested in those basic steps, please look more closely at our introduction article for building a new WordPress site.
The core requirements for a website are the WordPress CMS to build the site, a domain to identify the site, and a host to give the site a place online. When you have those things, you can add the few things you need to add eCommerce functionality to your website.
First, it is important to point out that eCommerce sites need a higher level of security than other websites. When you are dealing with financial information, you need to ensure users that it is protected. Your eCommerce website needs an SSL certificate to add that layer of protection. Originally, you had to purchase an SSL certificate from a Certificate Authority. They are not bank-breakingly expensive, but any extra cost can be annoying. Luckily, there are many ways to get free SSL. One example is from your hosting.
Once you are able to participate in eCommerce, you need a way to do so. How you do this will depend on your business. Do you sell products or services? Products can each get their own page, image, and description. Services are usually listed more casually or designed in a drag-and-drop, create-your-own situation. Regardless, you need to know how you are going to showcase what you are selling.
All of that needs design. If you have enough of a product list to have multiple categories, how will you separate and list those? Will you want to implement a search function? It is easy to overlook the subtle design choices during the check-out process. However, those can be the difference between your site looking professional or not.
WordPress eCommerce Plugins
You need more than just an SSL certificate to run an eCommerce site. It makes your website eligible for making financial transactions, but it does not give your site the ability to do so. We already covered that WordPress does not support eCommerce by default. To get started, you need a plugin or two.
One of the most popular WordPress plugins for eCommerce sites is WooCommerce. The WooCommerce plugin gives you easy steps for setting your site up for accepting payments or integrating shop features. Where it works best, though, is that it gives you options on which service to use to accept payments. We have all heard of services like PayPal and Square. Some plugins force you to use a single service, but WooCommerce supports all of the popular choices. That way, you can pick the one that works best for you.
WordPress eCommerce Themes
If you are adding eCommerce to an existing site, your current design or theme might not be best suited for online shopping, donations, or memberships. In that case, you will need to focus on getting a theme that works better for your needs.
It is important to shop around here. The most popular choices either give you plenty of examples or even let you test a theme before buying. You probably have an idea of how you want your eCommerce to look. Compare the options available to you to find what matches your vision closest.
The most critical consideration is to have a theme that is easy to navigate and has a lot of customization. This is why systems like Astra have become so popular. This is true for all kinds of websites. Everything from blogs to online shops can use Astra to create a unique website. This is due to the number of features users have access to as well as its nature of being user friendly.
Okay, but why should anyone consider it for their eCommerce site? Aside from what we already discussed, Astra comes with integration for eCommerce plugins. Specifically, it is set up to work seamlessly with WooCommerce. So you get all of the customization plus an easier time getting your eCommerce started.
Unfortunately, this option is not free. However, there are annual rates available. Their one-year subscription price starts at $59, but it is often on sale. For anyone ready to commit, they do have a lifetime version available. This one starts at $523, but this includes all of the features and support for as long as you need them. And just like the annual rate, this price is commonly discounted. It is not rare to find it available for half the retail price on their site.
Hosting for WordPress eCommerce Sites
Is there anything specific you need to know before finding a host for your eCommerce site? One thing to keep in mind is that some hosts provide free SSL for websites they host. This is a great benefit to remove an annoying subscription charge you would have to pay otherwise.
For example, free SSL is one of the features that WP Super Host provides for every website we host. We also help keep your site running fast. We use CDN servers and can provide you with a site speed report. To make sure your site stays available, we monitor for uptime 24/7. We also keep an eye on WordPress updates and plugins.
And just in case anything does go wrong, we offer automated daily backups. This way, you can get back up and running as soon as possible. All of this, and more, is available through the fantastic hosting from WP Super Host. When your eCommerce site is ready to go live, look at our hosting packages and find the one that suits you best.
When your website blends well with eCommerce functionality, it looks smooth and professional. People are easily able to understand how it works and what you sell. With a few clicks, they have already made their purchase.
After learning all about how to build a WordPress eCommerce site, all that is left is to jump in. Build your site, get your product or service descriptions ready, and hit the ground running. With WordPress, the right plugins and themes, and the best hosting from WP Super Host, you will likely see many more chances of success.