E-commerce is big business, as is WordPress. In fact, many storefronts are now powered by the platform. With this in mind, you might be tempted to start your own online store – although just how to do this could leave you stumped.
Fortunately, with a well-considered approach, you’ll be up and running in no time. While you have your website platform no doubt sorted out, you’ll still need to consider purchasing your domain name and web hosting, then get down to developing your e-commerce website. For this, you’ll need a dependable and fully-featured WordPress e-commerce theme.
What Makes WordPress Ideal for E-Commerce Websites
While WordPress is primarily known as ‘just a blogging platform’, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it’s a full-fledged Content Management System (CMS), and can be used to create websites of all types. Here are just a few reasons why:
It’s a powerful, flexible, and scalable platform.
There are a number of extensions called ‘plugins’, some of which cater to the specific needs of an e-commerce website.
There is no shortage of resources to help you solve WordPress-related problems.
Your site and your customers’ data will be secure.
What’s more, there are a number of high-profile e-commerce websites that run on WordPress, such as WooCommerce (which we’ll talk more about shortly). With that in mind, let’s discuss how you can create an e-commerce site.
How to Create an E-Commerce Site With WordPress (In 4 Steps)
While we’re giving you the basics to help you get started here, you’ll also want to look into site security. After all, a compromised site will lose traffic and authority, regardless of the quality of your products. For now, however, let’s start with your domain name and hosting provider!
1. Choose a Host and Domain
First up is your domain name. This is what visitors will use to navigate to your site, so it needs to be catchy and an appropriate part of your brand. As for purchasing one, there are many registrars to choose from. We recommend NameSilo:
There are literally hundreds of Top-Level Domains (TLDs) to choose from, offered at a range of prices – so the perfect one for you is well within your grasp.
However, your domain isn’t the only aspect to consider. Your hosting represents where your site lives, and a poor choice here can give you numerous headaches and compromise both your site and its visitors. If you’re looking for a recommendation, we advise you choose a host such as WP Engine:
WP Engine is a popular WordPress host, with top-notch support and rock-solid features. What’s more, it’s arguably the most knowledgeable WordPress-specific host currently available, and getting started with its services is a breeze. However, if you’re looking for a range of solutions to compare side by side, you may also want to take a look at HostGator and Kinsta.
2. Pick a Quality E-Commerce Platform
As we alluded to earlier, many WordPress sites use WooCommerce as their e-commerce platform. While the functionality and features of the platform are incredibly powerful, the fact that’s it’s also maintained by Automattic (the developers of WordPress) gives it an edge no other e-commerce solution can provide.
Practically every option for customizing your e-commerce store is within the wealth of settings at your disposal. You can create, edit, and delete products, make transactions in a number of currencies, and set complex and powerful shipping rules and tiers, all from the WordPress back end. There’s also an Onboarding Wizard to help you get your site up and running quickly.
Finally, similarly to how you can extend WordPress’ functionality, WooCommerce also offers a number of extensions to help you create an e-commerce site that matches your exact requirements.
3. Save Time Designing Your Site By Choosing a Suitable Theme
Once you’ve settled on a platform and e-commerce solution, you’ll want to design your site. This is made easy through a WordPress feature called ‘themes’. In a nutshell, these are templates that govern how your site looks – and depending on your choice, they’ll contain a varying number of customizations. The great news is that many quality themes can be found completely free at the WordPress.org Theme Directory, and installing one is a piece of cake.
As you can expect, a quality theme will be one that offers you the flexibility you need to create your site, on top of a stable code foundation. In addition, you’ll want a theme that is fully compatible with WooCommerce, and is just as extendible as WordPress and WooCommerce are themselves.
With this in mind, there are two options we can recommend. First, Storefront is Automattic’s own WooCommerce-compatible theme, and can be extended with a number of ‘child themes’. However, for the ultimate in flexibility, control, and customization, we’d suggest a multipurpose theme such as OceanWP:
This theme ticks all of the boxes you’ll need when creating a strong e-commerce website. It’s not only compatible with WooCommerce, but with many page builders such as Elementor. This means you’ll have practically all of the tools you need to create an e-commerce site that meets your needs. There are also a number of extensions available to help you enhance your site further – including the indispensable Woo Popup extension.
4. Bolster Your Site’s Functionality With Plugins and Extensions
Another inherent aspect of WordPress is the way you can enhance the functionality of your site using add-ons called ‘plugins’. These tools can offer you practically any additional feature you’d care to add, and are part of what makes WordPress such a flexible and scalable platform.
Much like themes, there are two types of plugins – those with a cost attached, and those without. If you have the budget, you could consider browsing for something suitable at a site such as CodeCanyon. However, free plugins are often just as good as their premium alternatives (if not better), and there are thousands to choose from at the WordPress.org Plugin Directory.
As for what plugins you should install, that depends on your needs and goals. However, some plugins (such as those dealing with security) are essential, and there are many more than can provide much-needed additional functionality to your site.
Finally, WooCommerce has its own Extension Library. Think of this as a library of plugins offering a myriad of additional features, but specifically designed to work with WooCommerce:
In fact, they’re installed in the same way as plugins, meaning adding them to your site is a breeze. What’s more, you can find plenty of advice about which extensions are worth your time.
E-commerce is a burgeoning market, and with WordPress’ rise, it’s no wonder the two are often paired together. There are plenty of smart reasons to opt for WordPress, such as its flexibility and scalability that put it ahead of its rivals.
In this article, we’ve discussed how to create an e-commerce site with WordPress. There are four steps you’ll need to follow – let’s recap them:
Choose a suitable host and domain name.
Make sure you opt for a powerful e-commerce platform.