Despite its reputation as a reliable blogging platform, you can also create a powerful eCommerce website on WordPress by following a few simple steps. While you may be tempted to choose a more eCommerce-orientated platform for your online store, WordPress offers a few unique features and advantages depending on your needs and niche.
WordPress may be the overall better option if you only have a select few products you want to focus on or if you need to get your store up and running as quickly and as cheaply as possible. For businesses that have been affected by the recent Coronavirus pandemic, being able to get a quick digital store launched to compensate for the lack of brick and mortar operations might be critical.
If you’ve been turned off by WordPress in the past or think it’s just not worth the hassle, this guide will help dispel your fears and answer all of your questions. I’m going to cover everything from choosing and purchasing your domain, to installing WordPress as easily as possible.
A WordPress eCommerce website is a simple solution to get your products in front of more people without investing a ton of time or money upfront. This enables you to focus more on your brand and business while letting WordPress do the heavy lifting. Not only this, being able to quickly get a store up and running online is becoming increasingly more important as we all adjust to a quarantine lifestyle due to the Coronavirus outbreak. A seamless and affordable solution like WordPress gives store owners who otherwise wouldn’t consider building an online store the opportunity to dip their toes into eCommerce and find real success.
The Benefits of Choosing WordPress Over Other Platforms
With all of the dedicated eCommerce platforms that are out there these days, what makes WordPress a viable option?
Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that you are in full control over your website. When you purchase your own hosting and install a WordPress website, it’s truly yours. You have complete access to the file system of your website, the database, where everything goes and what everything does. This is something that dedicated eCommerce platforms and website “builders” just don’t offer. While this amount of freedom and options can seem daunting at first, in the long run, it is extremely beneficial.
Another major reason why WordPress is viable is because it is perhaps the best natural blogging platform that exists on the web right now. WordPress was originally built around blogging, and so it only makes sense that it excels in this area. Blogging is still one of the premier ways in which you can build a list, attract customers, and create brand authority online, making this a powerful perk in WordPress’s corner.
WordPress is also known for its immense selection of free and premium themes and plugins. The sheer amount of functionality that you get with WordPress dwarfs anything else on the web right now. You can do virtually anything with the right themes and plugins, far more than most other platforms allow.
This can also be viewed as a negative for those who want merely a simple eCommerce solution, but the point is that the functionality exists and the options are there. You don’t need to dive into everything at once. Over time you can install these plugins as needed to slowly turn your website into a powerhouse.
Easy scalability and control over where you keep your domain is another awesome perk of WordPress. When you build a website on affordable shared hosting, you can easily ask your webhost to scale you up when you need more power or space, or even move your website altogether to a dedicated server or another service entirely when you’re ready to go big.
There’s no commitment to enterprise services or expensive monthly hosting. The best part? You can scale this anytime once your website starts to grow. Everything is in your hands.
With its wide range of power and flexibility, it’s no wonder that WordPress is still a strong eCommerce contender. But enough talking, let’s dive into the tutorial so you can get started with a WordPress website of your own.
Step 1. Obtain Your Domain Name and Hosting
Before you do anything, you need a domain. Not simply any domain will do, however, if you want an eCommerce website that actually performs. Your domain name is part of your business identity and brand.
While the domain name doesn’t have to strictly be the name of your business, it should be catchy and relevant. So head on over to any reliable domain seller or hosting service and search for your domain of choice. Options include Namecheap, Siteground, and Bluehost to name a few of the more reliable ones.
If your domain is already taken, change a word or letter around, add a dash, or drop the .com for something unique and catchy. No reason to overpay, especially if the point of starting your WordPress eCommerce website is to save some money.
If your domain is available, you’ll get a green checkmark or similar indicator and you will be able to add the domain to your cart.
Next, you’ll need hosting. Most of these services have dedicated managed WordPress hosting options, but they aren’t necessary. These days you can choose the most affordable hosting package available and simply request your hosting provider to scale you up once you need more power, space, and resources.
When you head to checkout, make sure you purchase SSL for your domain. This will ensure that your store is secure and gets the green “lock” and HTTPS in the browser. If you are running any kind of online store, this step is essential. Not only is it a powerful metric of trust for your buyers, but it will also give you a palpable SEO boost.
Congrats, you’ve completed the first steps toward launching your own eCommerce website. Next, we will move on to installing WordPress on your new domain.
Step 2. WordPress One-Click Install
Every WordPress tutorial you see online gives you all these convoluted steps on how to download the WordPress files manually and uploading them to your server via FTP, setting up child themes and all this other unnecessary and complicated fluff. There’s no reason why you need to be doing any of this in 2020.
Installing WordPress is effortless. Simply navigate to your Cpanel dashboard (you will have received a link and a login from your hosting provider when you purchased your hosting plan), and once there, scroll down to the bottom where it says “scripts.”
Here, click on WordPress and fill in the information on the following page before continuing.
It’s important to make sure that you select “HTTPS,” assuming you purchased SSL and intend on running a secure website appropriate for eCommerce. While this can always be fixed later on, save yourself the trouble and do it now.
Once you have these settings in place and you choose a username and password for your WordPress installation, scroll down and hit “install.” Don’t worry about selecting a theme just yet, we can handle that once we are inside the WordPress dashboard.
You’re already finished with the installation. One of the keys to getting your website off the ground is not to overcomplicate things and pick the method that gets solid results in the most efficient way possible.
Step 3. Theme and Plugins
Your WordPress website is only as functional as the theme and plugins installed on it. The open-source nature of WordPress means there are thousands of different features and tens of thousands of different styles for your website, but we will only be focusing on the essentials here.
You can easily get overwhelmed when constructing your WordPress eCommerce website, which is what you want to avoid. If you want to launch your website quickly and with as little hassle as possible, stick to the following essentials. You can always beef up your website later with additional plugins and features.
Begin by making sure you are logged into your new WordPress installation, choose Appearance and then Themes from the sidebar menu, and click the “Add New” button. Here, you can search for a Theme that suits the look you are going for. There are several free options to get you started, and you can switch one theme out for another at any time. Ultimately you are going to want to select a theme that matches the feel and intent of your products and brand.
After you have installed your theme, navigate to the Plugins area so we can begin adding the proper functionality to your new website. Search for and install the following recommended plugins:
At the moment, these are the four must-have plugins for any WordPress eCommerce website. Elementor is your page builder which will enable you to easily construct custom pages like you would on any modern website builder, WooCommerce, of course, is your eCommerce functionality, All in One SEO will help you get your website ranking properly, and WP Optimize will ensure that your website is performing as smooth as possible.
While you may want to take the time to learn more about each of these plugins and how to properly configure them, you do not need to master them in order to start your eCommerce website, other than WooCommerce, which we’ll cover now.
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- Matt Lovett
- May 1, 2020