When you want to build an eCommerce store, you will have many different options to choose from. One of the best options is WooCommerce.
WooCommerce powers more than 25% of eCommerce stores in the top 1 million sites worldwide compared to other eCommerce platforms. These numbers continue to grow because it is flexible and beginner-friendly.
This post will share what WooCommerce is, how it began, and how it became so popular. You’ll also learn how to get started using WooCommerce, its benefits, and some of the plugins we recommend.
What Is WooCommerce?
The WooCommerce plugin helps you to build an eCommerce store using WordPress. It takes the basic WordPress operating system and transforms it into a fully functioning eCommerce store.
WooCommerce makes it easy and affordable to sell any product and service on your website. It allows you to sell digital and physical products, take secure payments, manage inventory, and sort all your taxes automatically.
Most importantly, WooCommerce integrates seamlessly with WordPress since the same company, Automattic, owns wordpress.com.
Let’s look at the origins of WooCommerce.
Brief History of WooCommerce
The WooCommerce plugin started its life with a company called WooThemes. WooThemes was a premium WordPress theme company founded by Mark Forrester, Magnus Jepson, and Adii Pienaar.
Later on, two developers, James Koster and Mike Jolley were brought to the team to work on WooCommerce. They were working on an eCommerce software known as Jigoshop.
The first version of WooCommerce was launched in 2011 and became extremely popular. It achieved 1 million downloads within two years. In 2014 WooCommerce, hit 4 million downloads.
Automattic was impressed by the growth of this product and acquired it from WooThemes in 2015. Since they acquired this plugin, Automattic has become the leading developer of WooCommerce.
In the same year that Automattic purchased WooCommerce, the plugin surged to over 7 million downloads. It has powered more than 22% of the top 1m websites running on WooCommerce and 28% of all eCommerce stores online.
Hello! My name is Sujay and I’m CEO of Astra.
We’re on a mission to help small businesses grow online with affordable software products and the education you need to succeed.
Why Is WooCommerce So Popular?
The main reason why WooCommerce is widely used is due to its ties to WordPress.
WooCommerce also has thousands of paid and free themes and thousands of plugins that let you extend to your store.
Here are some of the other reasons why WooCommerce is a popular way to build an online store:
- Both WooCommerce and WordPress are free
- WooCommerce is open-source, meaning that any developer can audit, modify, or extend the code
- WooCommerce is beginner-friendly, and you don’t need to become an expert developer to create a store.
- WooCommerce is flexible, as you can add all kinds of functionality using plugins. This does not need any coding skills
- WooCommerce is responsive and works well on all devices
- WooCommerce is secure
You can now see that WooCommerce is your best option to build a secure, flexible online store in WordPress. It is also worth mentioning that you can accomplish a lot with WooCommerce entirely for free. All you need to purchase is a domain name and hosting.
What Can You Sell With WooCommerce?
WooCommerce allows you to sell anything online.
It is widely used to sell physical products like beard oils, jewellery, clothes, coffee, and so much more.
You can also use WooCommerce to sell digital products, make bookings, appointments, reservations, and provide services.
For example, if you have a beach hotel, you can use WooCommerce to let people reserve rooms and pay the booking fee.
Therefore, if you want to sell anything online and accept payments, WooCommerce is your best bet.
The Benefits of WooCommerce
There are many advantages to using WooCommerce.
Here are some of the benefits you will get:
1. Easy to Setup and Install
Installing WooCommerce is just like installing any other plugin. You can download it for free from the WordPress plugin directory, which can be accessed from the WordPress admin.
Once the plugin is installed, let the wizard be your guide. The wizards will walk you through a series of questions so that you can configure your online store accordingly.
The design of your store will be handled by the theme you choose. Setting up a theme requires the same process of following the installation wizard.
2. Equipped With Nearly All the Features for Running an Online Store
Out of the box, WooCommerce is packed with all the features you need to run a successful online store.
Here are some of those features:
- You can sell any product or service
- It allows you to add product attributes, tags, and categories
- It allows you to add product reviews to your products
- It allows visitors to your store to filter products by type of product, star rating, overall popularity, and more
- It allows you to integrate multiple payment providers like PayPal, Stripe, and credit cards
- It is very easy to customize the layout using themes
- It allows you to extend the functionality of your store using plugins
3. Flexible and Scalable
It is possible to enhance the functionality of your WooCommerce store using plugins or extensions. There are both free and premium plugins
This means that you can customize your online store to fit all your needs. WooCommerce has many official plugins available on their website.
Here, you will get access to store management features, payment options, marketing tools, shipping tools, and much more.
You can also explore the WordPress repository for even more WooCommerce compatible plugins.
4. Shopping Cart Is Feature-Packed
The checkout process is very important in any WooCommerce store as visitors can often abandon their carts during checkout. Therefore, this section needs to be designed well to make the process as seamless as possible.
Here are a few of the cart features included in WooCommerce:
- You can add multiple payment gateways
- You can enable geolocation to calculate taxes
- You can allow guests to checkout without creating an account
- You can force secure checkout
- You can redirect visitors to their cart once products are added
5. Product Options
When visitors get to your store, they will see how the item looks and functions to purchase products.
Visitors check the image, description, and maybe a product video. WooCommerce allows you to custom tailor each product listing so that shoppers can get all the information they require to make an informed purchase.
Here are some of the product options offered by WooCommerce:
- You can add unlimited products to your store. The only limit is your hosting account
- You can add unlimited product types
- You can add unlimited product variations as well
WooCommerce also has inventory management features that notify you when a product is out of stock or on backorder.
6. Multiple Shipping Options
If you have fast and secure shipping, it makes the customers happy and makes the entire shopping experience worthwhile.
WooCommerce offers different built-in shipping options to cover all needs. For example, customers in your store can choose from local delivery, flat rate, international shipping, or local pickup.
There is also an option to hide the shipping rate until your customer enters their address.
You can add functionality like automated tracking and upsells after checkout using plugins.
Getting Started With WooCommerce
As mentioned earlier, WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress. Therefore, you first need to install and set up WordPress.
There is a complete guide on how to build a WooCommerce website with Elementor and the Astra theme, but here’s a run-down of the steps you’ll need to follow:
1. Hosting and Domain Name
You’ll need to invest in good WordPress hosting that will power your store and make it accessible to the world. The domain name is the permanent store’s address on the internet, for instance, www.example.com.
2. Install WordPress
After selecting the best WooCommerce hosting provider, you’ll need to install the WordPress software.
Most hosting providers like Bluehost make it easy to install WordPress. Some will even install the software for you.
You can install the software from the WordPress repository:
3. Install WooCommerce
Since WooCommerce is a free plugin, it is very easy to install it. Navigate to Plugins > Add New, then search for “WooCommerce“.
Let the wizard be your guide to configure all the basics like the preferred payments.
4. Install a WooCommerce Compatible WordPress Theme (Astra)
The next step is choosing the best WooCommerce theme. We highly recommend that you use the Astra theme that is fast, highly customizable, and lightweight. This theme is used on over 1,000,000+ websites and has over 4700 five-star ratings on WordPress.org.
This theme provides a performance-optimized code that ensures fast loading times.
What Can WooCommerce Do?
The main aim of the WooCommerce plugin is to create an online shop. Here are some of the online revenue streams you can build using WooCommerce.
WooCommerce allows you to sell any product online to both local and international markets. You will need to set the shipping zones so that shipping costs are calculated automatically at the checkout stage.
Each country has different tax rates. Setting this up yourself to conform to all the legal requirements could be very difficult. You can use the plugin to handle these complexities automatically.
WooCommerce eases the process of accepting payments by credit cards for both you as a vendor and your customers.
If you integrate a payment method, you don’t need to maintain any financial data of customers. This is because the function is outsourced to the payment gateway.
2. Selling of Digital Products
If you want to sell digital products, you can upload the product as “Virtual” such that no shipping costs are calculated.
The next step is to set the product or service as “Downloadable” and upload the appropriate files. You are now ready to start selling digital products!
3. Set up a Service-Based Store
Companies that provide services can set up shop using WooCommerce. To set up a service-based store requires the use of particular extensions like appointment and booking extensions.
Setting up a service-based online store can help your business in many ways:
- It makes it easier for customers to book services at their leisure
- It reduces costs associated with making payments
There are many free and premium plugins that allow you to enable bookings and appointments online.
4. Set up a Membership Site
If you sell information such as digital courses, membership courses, or eLearning materials, you can use WooCommerce membership plugins.
We highly recommend building a user-base to increase revenue and add more value to loyal customers.
5. Set up a Subscription-Based Store
The subscription-based setup is a preferred method of doing business. Subscriptions benefit users because the price per month is usually lower than buying a lifetime licence.
Keeping your customers for as long as possible is more profitable over the long term than a one-off purchase. To achieve this, you need a subscription box where potential subscribers can register once you sort out the supply and shipping logistics.
Plugins help you to extend your store with new functionality. WooCommerce itself is a plugin that extends the core WordPress software with eCommerce functionality.
For your store to be truly successful, there are some must-have WooCommerce plugins to optimize your store.
Here are some of the plugins we recommend:
The CartFlows plugin helps you to create a more conversion-optimized checkout page. This, in turn, helps to increase conversion rates and revenue per order.
The store’s checkout page depends on your theme, and not all of them are optimized for WooCommerce conversion.
This plugin is free but has a CartFlows pro version priced at $209.
CartFlows lets you create a custom checkout process, complete with proven funnel tactics like order bumps and upsells.
Here are some of the features:
- It offers ready to import templates that you can use
- It allows you to have a conversion tested checkout
- You can add one-click order bumps
- You can set up upsells and downsells
This plugin has a free version and a premium version priced at $25 per month.
It has an easy to use drag & drop editor to design subscription or email signup forms. You can also manage contact lists using this plugin.
Here are some of the features:
- It offers your store email marketing capabilities
- It has a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) module to keep track of all your customer details
- It has marketing automation features
- It allows you to create landing pages and signup forms
- It offers you real-time statistics
3. Yoast SEO
Yoast allows you to easily add SEO titles and descriptions to posts and pages on your WooCommerce store. You can also use it to add Open Graph metadata.
Open Graph meta tags are snippets of code, which control how content is displayed when shared on social media.
The premium version of this plugin is priced at $89 per year.
Here are some of the features:
- It allows you to have full control of your site breadcrumbs
- It automatically sets canonical URLs to avoid duplicate content
- It enables you to do SEO and readability analysis
- It can optimize your article for synonyms and related phrases
Shortcodes are small piece of code placed on a page, post or even in a widget that perform certain actions on your WordPress site. Shortcodes are designed for WordPress plugins.
A typical syntax of a shortcode is including some text within square parentheses, as follows,
For instance, once you’ve installed and activated our WP Portfolio plugin, you can include it anywhere on your WordPress website by adding the following shortcode,
Similarly, WooCommerce has several shortcodes used to display its key pages. You’ll notice that every page in WooCommerce contain a shortcode.
For instance, the [woocommerce_cart] shortcode loads up the cart page, [woocommerce_checkout] loads the checkout page, and so on.
By including a shortcode, you can easily customize and create your eCommerce site.
Check out our Ultimate Guide on WooCommerce Shortcodes to explore the various possibilities using WooCommerce shortcodes.
At this point, you should be able to answer the ‘what is WooCommerce’ question.
In summary, WooCommerce is your best bet if you want to build a flexible and reliable eCommerce store. It is powered by the open-source WordPress software, which powers many leading websites.
WooCommerce is fast, powerful and most features are free. You can optionally extend its power with premium or third-party plugins.
We recommend using the Astra theme and the CartFlows plugin to supercharge your store. Astra helps you create a more beautiful store and conversion-optimized checkout pages. CartFlows helps you drive sales and minimize losses through checkout optimizations and other techniques.
All combine to deliver the ultimate eCommerce solution. Much of it is free. Those premium options are just that, options but each of them adds easy returns on investment.