Setting up an online store using WooCommerce

WooCommerce is used by over 4 Million sellers worldwide, making it one of the most popular ecommerce software. WooCommerce is simple to use and includes  many standard features such as Inventory Management, Sales & Marketing Management, User & Customer Management, etc. Besides you can extend the functionality of WooCommerce by a) adding free & paid plugins (without writing any code at all) and/or b) hiring a developer to add a required feature.

WooCommerce supports multiple payment methods like Cash On Delivery, Bank Transfers;  you can collect payments online by integrating with payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, etc. You can utilize the shipping options available within the software or, integrate 3rd party shipping mechanism.

You can install WooCommerce in less than 30 minutes:

a. If you purchase a web hosting plan, you can install WordPress and then install WooCommerce.
b. If you purchase a WordPress hosting plan, you can install WooCommerce.

Tip: You can use free software like Wampserver, to setup a complete hosting environment on your local computer (Microsoft Windows). Rather experimenting on a live server, it is recommended to practice on a local computer and then replicate everything on a live server.

Themes

You can use free or paid WooCommerce themes to change the look & feel of your online store; themes help you to “design” the online store quickly and you can switch to any theme anytime (some limitations apply).  Most themes have free demos, which gives you an opportunity to try them out online.

Installation Options

As WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress, you must install WordPress first. Once WordPress is installed, then:

A. You can install WooCommerce software and then use the default theme.
B. You can install WooCommerce software and use a theme (free or paid) of your choice.
C. You can install a theme (with dummy content) that will in turn install WooCommerce and other plugins (this is the fastest method). You can remove dummy content once you add your own products and replace images, logo, text, etc.

Note: In this article, we use Method C.

Step 1: Install a theme

Note: In this example, we will be using the popular Astra Theme. Please note the steps will vary if you use themes from other theme providers.

A. Logon to WordPress
B. Go to Appearance > Themes

C. Select “Add New”

D. Search for “Astra”

E. Select “Install”

F. Select “Activate”

G. Observe there is a new option “Astra Options” added to the Appearance Menu:

H. Select “Astra Options”.
I. Select “Install Importer Plugin”.

J. Select a Page Builder, for example: Elementor

K. You will see several free & paid themes provided by this vendor.

L. Select a theme. For example: Organic Store.

M. Select “Import Complete Site”. This option will install the Organic Store theme along with dummy content, plugins, etc. and may take a while to complete.
N. Fill the popup form and continue to install.
O. Select “View Site”

Now you can view the online store. It’s fully functional and works just like the demo.

Step 2: Customize Theme

You can modify fonts, colors, logos, etc. through a simple interface.

Select Appearance > Customize

Note: You may find several options to customize, depending on the theme.

To choose a different font:

Select > Global > Typography

Select a font (for example: “Ubuntu Condensed”) from the drop-down list. Adjust size if required:

Select “Publish” for permanent effect.

If you prefer to use a different font for headings, then scroll to Heading Font Family section, and select another (or same) font from the drop-down list.

Remember to select “Publish” every time when you make changes.

Some web hosting providers offer WooCommerce hosting (labelled as “ecommerce hosting” or similar), which will install the WooCommerce software automatically. However, you can change the theme and customize as you prefer.

Once the installation is complete, you can try:

a. Adding products, setting up pricing, shipping, payment methods, etc. like a seller, shop like a customer and then use the admin panel to manage orders.
b. Try other themes in the list (you may have to delete and start all over).

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