Used to build 43% of the world’s websites, WordPress is a free, versatile and feature-packed platform that is ideal for creating professional online stores. With thousands of themes and tens of thousands of plugins for additional functionality, you can create a unique site that’s just the right fit for your brand. WordPress is also very easy to use, and, in this post, we’ll take you through the steps of getting a store built and online.
- Get the right hosting
The first stage of building a WordPress store is to find a web host. A website needs to be hosted on a web server in order to be online and you’ll need the storage space your web host provides to install WordPress and build your site.
Ideally, you need a WordPress Hosting plan which is specially designed to help WordPress websites perform faster and more reliably and which also comes with a range of useful tools, like a WordPress Toolkit, that helps to make the management of your site quicker and easier.
- Choose your domain name
‘Domain name’ is the industry term for the website name, e.g., mybusiness.com. When you set up your store, you’ll need a domain name so that people can find it online and visit. A domain name registration needs to be purchased and then renewed every year or two so that you keep your rights to use it. You can purchase a domain name from your web host.
It is important to choose the right domain name for your brand – however, you’ll need to check carefully that no one else has registered the domain you want. You can check domain names and their availability here.
- Install WordPress
Once you have your hosting and domain name in place, you are ready for the exciting stage of creating your website. The first step is to install the WordPress software on your server. If you have purchased WordPress Hosting, this can be done in one click, in a process that takes less than a minute.
If you don’t have WordPress Hosting, you may have to install the software through your control panel, or even have to download it from the WordPress.org website and upload it to your server.
During the installation process, you should also be able to link the website to your domain, so that it will be live on the internet.
- Setup your eCommerce plugin
To give your WordPress website all the features of an online store, you’ll need to install an eCommerce plugin. The most popular and professional of these is WooCommerce, which, like WordPress is free. To install, simply go to the website’s admin panel, click on Plugins > Add New and then type WooCommerce in the search bar. When the plugin displays, simply click ‘Install’ and, once installed, click ‘Activate’.
One of the best things about WooCommerce is that it has a set-up wizard, which makes the process of setting up your store far easier to do, especially if you have never used the plugin before.
- Pick a theme for your store
A theme or template is a piece of software that controls what your website looks like in terms of layout, colours and fonts. There are thousands of free themes you can choose from and with WordPress’ new block editor, you have full control over what your website looks like.
That said, there are two attributes your theme should definitely have. Firstly, it needs to be compatible with WooCommerce, so that products in your store can be displayed properly, and secondly, it needs to be a responsive theme. Responsive themes are those which change the layout of your website to work on different devices and are essential if you want your store to work on mobile phones.
To find a theme, go to your admin panel and navigate to Appearance > Themes > Add New. You will be able to see how themes will look before you activate the one that’s most suitable.
- Get your site ready
- Add products to your store
Once your main pages are set up, you can then begin to add products to your store. This is done through WooCommerce. The process is fairly straightforward but can take time depending on how much detail you want to add for each product. This can include information such as the item’s name, price, product images, short and long description, specification, shipping info, product category and stock keeping unit number (SKU).
- Add a payment gateway
Before you can sell online, you’ll need a payment gateway – a service that handles online transactions between you, your customer and your respective bank accounts. You won’t be able to set up your store’s checkout without this, so it is an essential element of any online store. There are numerous providers, including well-known organisations like PayPal and WorldPay. You’ll need to sign up with a gateway provider and then integrate their service through the payments section of WooCommerce. These services do charge a transaction fee.
- Security requirements
Finally, before going live, you’ll need to make sure your website is secure. As you will be taking payments on your website, the first thing you will need is an SSL certificate. You can install free Let’s Encrypt SSLs at Webhosting UK, or you can opt for an SSL certificate with a higher trust level. These will encrypt any payment information your customers send, preventing their banking details from being stolen. An SSL certificate also means your site will be labelled with the secure padlock icon on browsers. Without this, many customers will refuse to shop with you.
Additionally, make sure that your web hosting package comes with advanced security features, such as free daily backups, 24/7 technical support and advanced anti-hacking and anti-malware firewalls.
WordPress and WooCommerce have been used together to create millions of successful online stores all over the planet. Though it takes time to create and set up an online store, you can speed this up and avoid technical hiccups by using WordPress Hosting. Hopefully, the information given here will show you the right steps you need to take to get your store online.
For a secure, reliable and high-performance online store, take a look at our WordPress Hosting plans.