Launching an online store used to be a real pain in the butt.
You’d have to go through hoops getting the domain and hosting. Website development took months and sometimes years before things launched.
And even then, people were apprehensive about buying stuff online.
Then WordPress came around, and everything changed.
Suddenly, there was a platform anyone could use to set up a website.
Around this time, we saw many online stores and businesses start to take off into the vast web galaxy. All of this set in motion the modern Web we know today — brimming with e-commerce opportunity!
Do you want to get on board the Millennium Falcon and create your ecommerce store? Strap in young padawan.
Why Use WordPress for an Online Store
There are tons of site builders you’ll come across when getting into e-commerce. Each of these online platforms offers unique features and benefits. Yet, these online store builders never stack up to what’s possible with WordPress.
Why should you use WordPress when building an online store?
- Truly Free — The platform is open source, meaning it’s truly free. Because of this, it has attracted a massive talented community. That community has built amazing site themes and plugins, free to use.
- Flexible — WordPress is a content management system. The platform, being open-source, lets you modify it any way you’d like. It can be anything from a simple one-page site to a robust e-learning platform.
- SEO-Ready — The platform has baked-in SEO features that’ll help the site get found and ranked. Or, you can add plugins that boost SEO factors in just a few simple clicks.
- Control — Read the terms of the site builders, and you’ll find limited control over your website. Likewise, many features get put behind paywalls and premium packages. In contrast, you can do whatever you want with WordPress.
- Support — The WP community is passionate and super helpful. You’ll also find tons of individuals and businesses offering WP support.
The bottom line is that WordPress lets you make the website you want to create. It’s supported through free and premium themes, plugins, and services. It also built a huge community that is always developing neat, new features.
Setting Up the Online Store Foundations
There are two phases of building an ecommerce website:
- The foundational stuff
- Post-launch efforts
The foundational items are the most technical. If you’re good with computers, then, by all means, proceed with the next steps. If you have trouble with tech, then consider working with a developer to get things sorted.
Here are the main foundational items:
- Domain Name
- Web Hosting
- WordPress Installation
- Installing a Theme
- Configuring the Site
Let’s go through the process…
1. The Domain Name
You will buy a domain name from a domain name registrar — like:
The domain name costs about $10 to $20, depending on the provider. You’ll want a domain name that’s catchy and memorable. Once you’ve got one, you’ll then link it to your web hosting using its name servers.
2. The Web Hosting
You’ll want to explore WordPress hosting since you’re running WordPress.
WordPress hosting is:
- Customized to get the most out of WordPress
- Fast, reliable, and secure
Look no further than WPFarm for your hosting needs. We also provide ample documentation to get your domain name linked to our name servers.
You can proceed to install WordPress once the domain is linked to the hosting.
3. Installing WordPress
Most hosting includes backend frameworks that allow fast WP installation. It takes a few clicks and basic information to get the WordPress platform installed.
- Log into your hosting account
- Navigate to its framework and look for WP installation options
- Work through the installation steps
- Verify the information
- Log into your site using the credentials
You now have a barebones website!
4. Configuring WordPress Basics
The basic WordPress installation leaves a lot to be desired. You’ll want to configure a few things before doing the rest of the online store setup.
Some things you’ll want to configure are:
- Changing the permalinks, so they’re easy to read and good for SEO
- Deleting or modifying the default categories, posts, and pages
- Fill in your user profiles and set up new user profiles
- Adding basic template pages and site navigation
- Adding business information in the footer or sidebar
You’re not really building the full-fledged site just yet. Instead, you’re getting the site’s structure locked-in before adding the pretty stuff.
Building the Ecommerce Storefront
The fun stuff is when you’re making the storefront and filling in products. You get to see the project inch closer to its official launch. There’s a lot to it, more than what’s covered in this post, but the following covers the basics.
The Site Theme
You can install a WordPress theme that completely changes what it does. In this case, you’ll want to install an “online store theme.” This adds basic pages you’d find in an online store + neat e-commerce features.
Look on theme marketplaces like:
Draw inspiration from shops in your market and industry. Then, pick a design that suits your business type and needs. You’ll find plenty, both free and paid.
The Site Plugins
WordPress really shows its value when you start adding plugins.
A few basic plugins would include:
- Yoast SEO
- WordFence Security
- WP Super Cache
- WP Rocket
These expand the basic WP offering. You’ll have a more secure, faster, and flexible website with them. Check out the official WP plugin directory for tons of free ones!
As for the shop portion of WordPress — install:
- WooCommerce — This sits on top of your WordPress installation. It’s a complete storefront (front and back). It’s super flexible and well-supported, plus it’s free and offers premium upgrades.
- WP EasyCart — If you want something super simple, then check this out. It adds a shopping cart to your site. This is great if you don’t want to alter the site from its original shop theme drastically.
- Easy Digital Downloads — This one is great if you want to sell digital goods. So, think music, video, ebooks, and the like. It’s light-weight, includes tracking, and a lot of customization.
Check out those to get things started and then scale once the site shows promise.
The Other Stuff
There are a few other things you may want to set up and configure. These expand what the WordPress shop can do or at least make it less of a hassle running.
- WordPress optimization for a faster, SEO-friendly site
- Email marketing integration to build a customer list
- An SSL certificate to improve the site’s security
- Landing page creator or theme extension for ad campaigns
- WordPress maintenance to keep the site squeaky clean and operational
- Adding a blog portion of the site to leverage content marketing
Now it’s just a matter of getting people to the store and creating those sales!
An Easy Alternative to Ecommerce
We hope you found this overview of building an online store encouraging and straightforward. If you’ve finished and still don’t know what to do, then get in touch.
We are WordPress experts.
We’ll get you set up using our web hosting and website templates. This means less time fiddling with tech stuff and more time launching your business into the galaxy!
Get in touch today, or learn more about our pre-built site opportunities.