Most people tell you, that WordPress is a blogging platform. And while that is true, a more informed way to state the same, would be to say, that while WordPress started off as a blogging platform, it can be used for more, than just blogging. Today, you could convert your WordPress blog, into a complete eCommerce site easily, with the help of a few plugins. And what’s more? You probably don’t have to invest much either. With numerous WordPress plugins available, you could set up your e-store for no money at all! Ecommerce Website are more trending online business now.
But, hold on! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s understand a few basics, and breakdown the entire idea, into attainable steps. The core of your e-Commerce blog, will be the best WordPress e-commerce plugin you choose. So let’s talk about that before we continue.
WordPress + e-Commerce Plugin = e-Store
A best WordPress eCommerce plugin, helps you setup your online shop. This basically includes managing your user interface, product inventory, purchases, invoices, and so on. Your e-Commerce plugin, is like your ‘Store Manager’. All you have to do, is set up products, and product information, such as description and pricing. Your plugin will take care of the rest. Any customization you would need here, would be in terms of styling.
Before you select an e-Commerce plugin for your site, you have to weigh your options. Now, when I talk about about a WordPress blog, it could mean a blog hosted on WordPress.com, or a self hosted blog, which uses WordPress.org. Either way, you could convert it to an e-Commerce blog. But a difference you have to know here, is that with WordPress.com you have limited options.
With WordPress.com, you will have to upgrade to ‘WordPress.com Business’. This includes a $299 cost per year. And you have two options to select from, Ecwid or Shopify, as e-Commerce systems. A cost-effective (and recommended) option you could consider here, would be to switch to WordPress.org, and use a popular e-Commerce plugin.
If you have a self hosted blog, you’re in luck! You just need a freely available e-Commerce plugin, and you’re good to go!
How to choose an e-Commerce plugin?
Next, is of course selecting an e-Commerce plugin from several available. Okay, so this is the most crucial step. Because down the road, you do not want to realize that you made the wrong choice. And yes, there are plugins that help you port your store from one e-Commerce system to another. But you could just save yourself all the trouble, and make an informed decision right now.
Must Have Features of an e-Commerce Plugin:
Before you begin, you have to choose a plugin, not just based on your current requirements, but based on future requirements as well. For example, there are plugins dedicated only to sell digital products. And while, at the moment, you might have only digital or virtual goods for sale, if you’re considering selling physical/shippable goods in the future, you’d be better off selecting a different plugin.
Once you’ve listed down your requirements, let’s continue, and state some ‘must-have’ features an e-Commerce plugin you choose should have.
No surprises here! A must-have feature is a possibility to set up products. When I say this, it means, the possibility to add information about a certain product, and the ability to differentiate it, from posts and pages. This would involve having products as custom post types, or using a category to identify them. Having products as a custom post type is always better. It provides you more control over display and filtering options.
Your plugin must provide an ‘Add to Cart’, and ‘Checkout’ functionality, to handle product purchases. This means, there should be a way for customers to purchase more than one product at a time, and a way to receive payments, with the use of payment gateways. Of course if your business is modeled towards a customer making a single purchase in an order, you need not need an ‘Add to Cart’ functionality. But payment gateways, as you would expect are a must.
If you want to sell shippable goods, your plugin must provide you the options to set up shipping information, as well. This would mean, enabling different shipping methods, and allowing users to select the shipping method they need.
Invoices & Notifications:
Your plugin, must also send across notifications, when purchases are made, so as to handle the remainder of the transaction, which would be shipping the goods across to the customer.
Once you’ve decided on plugins which suit your requirements, you could look at other features provided as well. For example, for limited stock items, you have to consider a plugin which provides inventory management.
If you want to schedule sales or offer discounts, you have to look at plugins which provide discount codes or coupons. And if you want to separate out tax management, you could look at a plugin which provides for the same.
There are several plugins that fit these criteria. But a plugin I would recommend here is WooCommerce. With WooCommerce, you have all the functionality in place, it’s easy to use, and has a good number of add-ons.
Setting up Your e-Store
Once, you’ve selected a plugin you have to install it on your WordPress website, configure basic settings, and set up products. And you’re done! (Not a one line task, but the final step in the conversion process).
Now I do understand, this article does not address every possible use case, and some of you might face some hiccups along the way. Those of you who have any questions, should be sure to ask them or provide feedback in the comment section below, for the benefit of fellow readers. Start eCommerce Business by using above How to Ecommerce Guide.