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Selling products online can be a lucrative way to generate revenue. If you already have a WordPress website, WooCommerce is the simplest way to add ecommerce functionality to your existing site—without switching to a dedicated ecommerce platform. It’s also a great option if you’re starting a brand new content-heavy site but want to sell physical products, subscriptions, digital downloads, or services.
Regardless of your scenario, this step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of setting up WooCommerce and preparing you for success.
The Top Ecommerce Platforms to Set Up Your Online Store
WooCommerce is only for WordPress sites. But if you want to start elsewhere, you can use a dedicated ecommerce platform to set up your online store instead. These are our top picks:
- Bluehost – Best overall ecommerce platform
- HostGator – Best for scaling WooCommerce stores
- Web.com – Best for beginners
- Shopify – Best all-inclusive ecommerce platform
- Wix – Best for stores with fewer than 100 products
- BigCommerce – Best for enterprise-level businesses
- Squarespace – Best for cornering a niche market
- Hostinger – Best price for a full online store
You can read our full reviews of the best ecommerce platforms to set up your online store here to learn more about WooCommerce alternatives.
How to Set Up WooCommerce in 8 Easy Steps
The entire process of setting up WooCommerce can be summarized in eight straightforward steps, and you don’t need any coding experience or technical knowledge to get started. If you already have a live WordPress site, you can jump ahead to step 2.
- Get Hosting for WordPress
- Install WooCommerce
- Select a Theme
- Add Products
- Set Up Payments
- Set Up Shipping
- Configure Taxes
- Customize Your WooCommerce Store
WooCommerce is the easiest way to add ecommerce functionality to WordPress. It’s used by over 3.4 million online stores and comes with everything you need to set up your site, create a beautiful design, and accept customer payments. The plugin is fully customizable, making extending its functionality to fit your needs easy. Get started now to set up WooCommerce for free today.
Step 1 – Get Hosting for WordPress
Skip this step if you already have a live WordPress site.
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. This means that, unlike an ecommerce website builder, it won’t work on its own for selling products online. So the first thing you need to do is ensure you have a web hosting plan and WordPress account set up.
Rather than breaking this up into multiple steps and overcomplicating things, it’s much easier to just go to Bluehost and set up everything here. This consolidates three or four steps on multiple platforms into just one simple step.
If you’re starting completely from scratch and haven’t yet purchased a domain for your online store, Bluehost also offers a free domain for your first year. So you won’t have to go to a third-party domain registrar to set this up and then connect your domain to Bluehost.
The great part about using WooCommerce hosting from Bluehost is that your store will automatically be optimized for WordPress and WooCommerce. You’ll benefit from enhanced security, 24/7 support, and easy site management.
Bluehost’s WooCommerce hosting comes with everything you need to succeed. Highlights include:
- Unlimited products
- Secure online payments
- Automatic WordPress updates
- Customer wish lists
- Product search and filtering
- Digital gift cards
- Online bookings and appointments
The Online Store plan for $9.95 per month is all you need to get started with WooCommerce. But if you’re also planning to sell through third-party marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, or eBay, you should go with Bluehost’s Online Store + Marketplace plan. This starts at $13.95 per month for all the same features plus multi-channel selling capabilities.
Simply select your plan, and you can install WordPress to your host with a single click. Your purchase is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can go ahead and do this now risk-free, knowing that you can always change your mind if you decide to go a different route later.
Once your hosting, domain, and WordPress account have been set up, you can start setting up WooCommerce.
Step 2 – Install WooCommerce
Then you can upload it to your WordPress site through your plugins menu.
Alternatively, you can install WooCommerce directly from your WordPress admin dashboard.
Just navigate to the Plugins menu on the left side of your screen. Search for “WooCommerce” using the keyword box on the top right of that page, and click Install Now when you find the plugin.
Installing WooCommerce to your WordPress account is 100% free. But you might encounter some paid add-ons later when customizing WooCommerce and adding functionality to your store.
The third option is going straight to WooCommerce.com and creating a free account.
It takes just minutes to create an account this way. When you’re prompted to select the installation method here, the options are:
- Pre-installed through a trusted host
- Auto-installation if you already have a WordPress site
- Download the zip and install it on your own
Most of you reading this can ignore the first bullet since you either already had WordPress set up or you’ve secured hosting and WordPress through Bluehost back in step #1. So you can choose from the second or third bullets—it’s really just a matter of preference.
Regardless of which option you choose, the final part of this step is activating WooCommerce when it’s been installed in WordPress. Activating WooCommerce will automatically launch the WooCommerce Setup Wizard, simplifying the setup process as it essentially walks you through everything that needs to be done.
The first part of the Setup Wizard is very straightforward. You’ll be asked for things like:
- Where your store is located
- Your online store’s industry
- What types of products you’re selling (physical products, downloads, subscriptions, memberships, etc.)
- Information about you and your business
There’s no additional charge for selling physical products, downloads, or subscriptions via WooCommerce. But things like bookings, memberships, bundles, and customizable products will incur an additional monthly fee—ranging from $4.08 to $20.75 per month.
Step 3 – Select a Theme
One of the most important steps in the WooCommerce setup process is choosing a theme. Your theme is essentially how your store will appear online to customers.
If you previously set up a theme for your WordPress site, you can continue with that option. However, it’s typically in your best interest to select a theme through WooCommerce—as this ensures optimized performance for your store.
The Storefront theme is free and easy to customize with extended functionality.
Look for a theme that’s simple and lightweight. It should be mobile-friendly and have a responsive design.
Some themes with flashy bells and whistles might look cool, but they ultimately don’t perform well. They can slow down page loading times and hurt conversions when people are browsing. So when in doubt, keep it simple.
Step 4 – Add Products
Now you’re ready to start adding products to your store. You can do this by simply navigating to Products within WooCommerce and clicking the Add Product button—which is conveniently self-explanatory.
But first, let’s make sure you have a clear understanding of how WooCommerce organizes products. There are “categories” and “attributes” for all products.
A category is exactly what it sounds like, similar to how you tag and categorize blog posts when publishing them on WordPress. You can create, edit, or remove a category at any time. When you name a product category, that’s how it will appear on your site. Examples might include apparel, accessories, footwear, or any other broad group for how your inventory is organized.
Attributes describe your products in greater detail, making it easier for users to filter and search for products when browsing your store.
For example, let’s say you’re selling clothing online with WooCommerce. You might add attributes like “size” and “color” to your products.
When you’re adding a new product, you’ll also choose the product type:
- Simple — These are basic products with no options for changes, like a book.
- Grouped — A collection of simple products, such as a set of four plates.
- Virtual — Products that don’t require shipping and won’t trigger a shipping calculator at checkout.
- Downloadable — Downloadable products activate a field where you can provide a link to a file or email the downloadable file to the customer. Examples include ebooks, photos, or digital music albums.
- External/Affiliate — These products are listed on your site but are ultimately sold through a third party.
- Variable — Variable products have different SKUs, and stock options, such as pants that are offered in different colors and sizes.
You can also use WooCommerce to sell subscriptions, bookings, and more. But these need to be added as an extension to your WooCommerce store before they’ll be available as a new product type.
Step 5 – Set Up Payments
Now that your products are live, you need a way for customers to pay you.
There are plenty of different payment options to choose from. So if you already have an existing payment processor or gateway, like Stripe or PayPal, you can integrate that directly with WooCommerce with just a few clicks.
Alternatively, you can use WooCommerce Payments to facilitate transactions. There is no monthly cost or installation fee. You’ll just pay per transaction—starting at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for US credit and debit cards.
This isn’t necessarily the most cost-effective option on the market. But it’s fine if you’re just starting and want to accept online payments ASAP.
It’s also worth noting that while WooCommerce payment is only available in 15 countries, you can use it to accept over 135 currencies. You can learn more about the transactional fees for WooCommerce payments here.
Step 6 – Set Up Shipping
If you’re selling physical products, you need to configure the shipping options and costs.
This way, shipping will automatically be added to carts based on the product and the customer’s location when they’re going through the checkout process.
This step largely depends on where your customers are located and how you deliver products to them. For example, let’s say you’re a US-based merchant, and you’re handling the products yourself. You can use a tool like WooCommerce Shipping to print the shipping labels at home for each order.
This is a great option if you want a shipping solution that’s built into your WooCommerce dashboard. So you won’t have to copy or paste anything to a third-party fulfillment tool or set up an integration.
You’ll also have access to discounted shipping rates through USPS and DHL.
Step 7 – Configure Taxes
Taxes can be a headache for ecommerce stores, as the tax rates vary based on your location, the inventory location, the shipping location, and the final customer destination.
If you have one economic nexus, then WooCommerce Tax will be fine. But for cross-border sales and multi-economic nexus compliance, you’ll need to use Avalara.
Step 8 – Customize Your WooCommerce Store
Now that your store is up and running, you’re ready to start selling to customers! But you still have the option to customize WooCommerce and continue expanding its functionality.
Some examples of what you can do include:
- Manage Google product listings and adds
- Integrate with email marketing tools like Mailchimp
- Add cryptocurrency payment acceptance
- Connect with your CRM
- Put your products on Pinterest
- Set up automated follow-ups to customers
- Use Zapier to set up automations and third-party integrations
The list goes on.
There are hundreds of different extensions to choose from that can be found on the WooCommerce marketplace.
Final Thoughts About Setting Up WooCommerce
WooCommerce is the easiest way to turn your WordPress site into an ecommerce store. The first thing you need to do is get web hosting for WordPress, which can be easily achieved through Bluehost’s WooCommerce Hosting plans. From there, you can install WooCommerce to WordPress and begin configuring the site.
You can always extend the functionality of your WooCommerce site and customize everything to your specific needs. So, just focus on going live right now, and you can make changes later.