In 2019, global eCommerce sales reached nearly $3.5 trillion USD, up nearly 18% from the previous year. This number is expected to nearly double by 2023 – online sales are only going to increase from here on out.
Shoppers favor online outlets, with the ability to make purchases and bookings at any time of the day, from anywhere they might be. Mobile devices have made it easier than ever to shop on-demand, so it’s crucial for businesses to have an online presence if they want to stay in the retail game.
In steps WordPress and the WooCommerce payment gateway, helping merchants easily and smoothly move into the digital world.
WooCommerce is a toolkit for eCommerce, and it is full of great features for merchants. It’s an open source software built on WordPress, which means it’s highly customizable and backed by a strong community of developers and merchants using the solution. It’s an ideal tool for online merchants (yes, even the less tech-savvy ones!) and integrates with payment processors to complete the full online shopping package.
Includes and Extras
For merchants who want to establish and run a professional, functional online store with little hassle, the WooCommerce plugin for WordPress is a great solution. Both WordPress (the leading website builder) and WooCommerce (an eCommerce plugin for your WordPress website to add shop functionality with ease) are open source and free of charge, so merchants can get started on building a web store right away.
There are some paid features to consider adding to the basic shop:
Hosting and Domain Services
WordPress offers a free website address, but it’s at a subdomain (such as yoursite.wordpress.com). If you’re creating an online shop, it’s great to factor in the cost of hosting and a dedicated domain (such as .com, .net., .org, .co.uk, etc.). Having your own site will add credibility to your shop and tends to look more professional to those shopping online. Hosting and domain services are widely available, for a monthly or annual fee.
Hosting costs vary, as does the offering from hosting companies. WordPress and WooCommerce both commonly recommend popular sites such as BlueHost, SiteGround, and Pressable for those looking to establish an eCommerce presence through the WooCommerce WordPress plugin. More than price, important factors to consider are SSL encryption (to keep your data safe), security (to keep your site safe), and strong uptime (to have the peace of mind of knowing your site is always available).
To make things even easier, BlueHost offers a package including hosting a WooCommerce WordPress site for a single monthly fee.
Ready-to-use designs and layouts which can easily be applied to a WordPress site are referred to as “themes”. The admin panel remains the same, while the customer’s experience of your shop is transformed by applying personalized design layouts using themes.
While many WooCommerce themes are free, it is recommended to hire a developer for personal customizations to the out-of-the-box offering. This will help you tailor your site as you see fit, and comfortable, for your shop. There are many outlets for thousands of themes and for a small fee – on average, between $39 and $59 a year – merchants can give shoppers a beautiful, smooth online shopping experience while making customizations even easier for less experienced admins or developers. A worthwhile investment!
For many who are starting out in eCommerce, using WooCommerce’s official theme (called Storefront) is an excellent option. Storefront is well-supported and well-developed. The theme is flexible and intuitive, so you won’t get hung up on details while you’re getting your shop going.
Free themes are also available. Be sure when you’re searching for themes that you use only those compatible with the latest version of WooCommerce and check to be sure the theme has regular updates and is well maintained by the developer who created it.
Extensions function like plugins for WooCommerce, which add more functionality to eCommerce sites. Merchants can use extensions to add checkout functions, shipping calculators, payment gateways, communications, and much more.
WooCommerce offers a list of ten popular free extensions for new stores, including MailChimp (for collecting customer email data for use in email marketing and communications), Google Analytics (for tracking data on website visits and clicks), and Facebook (for ad and marketing content). A comprehensive list of WooCommerce extensions can be found here.
Let’s go into a little more detail on some useful extensions for your eCommerce site.
Customer experience is vital to the success of an online store. Extensions enhance the customer experience and add site functionality. Some extensions are for behind-the-scenes, adding security options or enabling administration functions.
We’ve compiled a (very) short list of some of the many extensions available which supplement the robust WooCommerce platform, and to create a smooth, seamless transaction experience for customers and merchants alike.
Communication is key in your shop, whether it’s enticing first-time customers, keeping in touch with those who have purchased from you, or offering promotions.
MailChimp adds functionality to your site for managing mailing lists, sending follow up mails after purchases, distributing newsletters, promotions, coupons, and more. It also integrates into your social media platforms, and offers a detailed admin panel for tracking actions within the mails sent, such as link clicks. There are free and paid options available, and its integration with WooCommerce is seamless.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a big concept in the world of online business. Essentially, SEO helps search engines (such as Google or Bing) to find and display a site in search results. A comprehensive SEO extension such as Yoast offers guidance to take care of the details and get your site set for peak search engine optimization.
- Global Payments – Merchants using eCommerce payment processing for orders in a variety of currencies will find extensions such as Multi Currency or Currency Converter Widget to be very helpful.
- Products – There are many extensions for WooCommerce available that add a variety of product-related functions, such as sort and filtering, suggested add-ons, bundling, and more. Here’s a hint: take a look at some of your favorite eCommerce sites and see what sort of functions they’re using for their product catalogue, then decide whether they’re useful for your online storefront.
- Order Follow-Up – Order tracking extensions enable customers to follow up on their own orders, giving them a more complete user experience, and freeing up your customer service agents from order status inquiries.
- Reporting – Plugins such as WooCommerce Advanced Reporting is a comprehensive reporting tool to help merchants review and manage their online store. Reports include sales orders, order status, stock status, top products, and more. Reporting is vital for planning and managing cash flow.
- Security, Monitoring, and Statistics – This may sound dry, but it’s paramount in managing an online presence. Security in eCommerce is vital for merchants and customers alike, and this includes site security as well as data and payment security. Jetpack is an industry leader in security insights, working to block spam and authenticate customer logins. It also provides statistics and sends administrators alerts of downtime.
Payment processing with WooCommerce
What would an eCommerce site be without payment processing? Without the ability to receive payments from customers, you’re essentially spending time setting up an online gateway for window shoppers.
Customers need the ability to easily provide payment details. Merchants need to be able to receive those payments. All of this needs to be done securely, and seamlessly. WooCommerce payment processing plugins enable customers to complete their shopping transactions online, whether the payment is immediate, made in installments, set up for a pre-order, or a COD.
As an authorized payment processor with WooCommerce, DPO smoothly integrates into merchant sites. The WooCommerce platform is an ideal offering for merchants who wish to establish an online presence, making their products or services available to a wider set of potential customers. Due to its flexibility, customization options, and ease of adoption, WooCommerce is an excellent option to create online shops based on the needs and preferences of the brand.