How to Start a WooCommerce Store – Beginners Tutorial

WooCommerce is one of the most popular ways of building an ecommerce website and as it is the official ecommerce plugin for WordPress, which powers the most websites in the world, this is not surprising.

Over the years, I have built a few sites using the WordPress + WooCommerce combination and I decided to create a tutorial on how you can build your own ecommerce website using this combination. And for this beginners tutorial, I am going to take you through the whole process, from getting your domain name to going live!

Step 1: Domain Name

The very first step in getting a WooCommerce store up and running is to get a domain name. To do this, you need to go to a domain name registrar and purchase one but before clicking the buy button on your perfect domain name, make sure to check a couple of things first:

  1. Be aware of ‘introductory’ promotions such as a free .co.uk domain or .com for 99p, it may seem like a bargain but always check the renewal fee as they are usually quite pricey.
  2. Check to see if they charge a transfer fee, there is a chance you may want to move your domain name to a new registrar in the future and while lots of companies don’t, some out there do and it costs around £10 to move it.

A good recommendation for domain names is namecheap.com, they are a reputable provider and are very upfront with their fees and renewal prices.

As for the domain name itself, there are a couple of best practises that it is advisable to stick to when buying a domain name and these are:

  1. Keep it Short and Simple – this makes it easier for people to remember your website and increases the potential of return visitors.
  2. Avoid Hyphens – the only reason most domain names have a hyphen is because the non-hyphenated version wasn’t available. It is best to avoid as people won’t type the hyphen and it could loose you traffic.
  3. Only Use Top Level Domains (.com, .co.uk, .net, .org) – Which one you go for depends on your website and target audience, for example if you are targeting a global or North American audience then a .com will server you well. If you are focused on the UK, then go for the .co.uk. If both are available then it is best to get them and then choose which one you want to use.

Once you have got your domain name, you can then move on to step 2.

Step 2: Web hosting

The first thing you need to do before you can start building your store is to buy some web hosting. When you are just getting started, good quality shared hosting should be more than enough but you may need to upgrade or move to ecommerce grade hosting if your store starts to grow.

For UK based website, I would recommend Krystal Hosting as they are my web host of choice. If you would like to know more about them, then you can check out my full Krystal Review.

For international websites, Siteground is a very good option.

You will also need to redirect your domain name, so that it is pointing towards your web hosts servers. Check with your hosting provider and your domain name registrar as to how to do this.

Before installing WordPress, there are a couple of things that you want to configure with your hosting.

Number 1: Install an SSL certificate

The first thing that you want to do is install an SSL certificate, it is much easier to do this before you install the WordPress software as you can install it on the https protocol and it saves you from having to change it from http to https in the future.

This also adds a layer of buyers confidence for your customers and all ecommerce websites should be using an SSL certificate.

When it comes to installing an SSL certificate, most hosting companies will give you one of two options.

Lets Encrypt SSL (Free)

The first is to install a free SSL certificate from Lets Encrypt and this is nice and easy to do. Click on the Lets Encrypt icon in the security section of your Cpanel, then scroll down to the issue new certificate section and click on this issue button next to your domain name.

You can then select all of the domains including www. and non www. version you want the certificate to apply to, once you have selected the ones you want, simply click the issue button and you are done.

While this is a great way to get started, as your website starts to grow, you should consider using a paid for option like the ones below:

Paid SSL (Comodo, GeoTrust, Thawte)

The second option is to install a paid SSL certificate from the likes of Comodo and Thawte, with these you can have Domain Validated ones which are similar to the lets encrypt ones or more specialist Organisation or Extended Validation certificates, the latter two are recommended for larger companies and ecommerce websites.

To install a paid SSL certificate, click on the SSL/TLS option in the security section of your Cpanel and then click on Install and Manage SSL for Your Sites. You will see any SSL certificates that are already installed but at the bottom of the page you will see a section to add a new SSL.

In here you need to select the domain you want to install the SSL on and then boxes for your certificate code and your private key, there is also a section for a certificate authority bundle but for most certificates, you won’t have to worry about this.

Once you have copied and pasted your certificate code and private key, click install certificate and it should be installed. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, then you can always ask your hosting provider if they can do it for you or at least provide some assistance.

Number 2: Change your PHP version

The next step before getting actually installing the WordPress software is to change the PHP version that is set by default in your Cpanel.

Now I know that this may sound scary and quite technical but it really is quite simple to do and it will really benefit your site because it will run significantly quicker. The majority of web hosts will selection version 5.6 for new accounts and that is why I recommend changing the version as the latest one if 7.4.

Now many places recommend using the latest version of PHP but I have encountered problems with doing this is the past as some themes and plugins might not work properly with the latest version, so to be on the safe side, I always use the one before the latest one.

The actual process of changing your PHP version is pretty simple, just click on the Select PHP Version option in the software section of your Cpanel and it will bring up the following screen.

To change the version you are using, click on the arrow next to PHP version at the top and it will show you a selection of all the ones you have available. Select the one you want and then click set as current, it is as simple as that.

If you select version 7.3, you might need to tick the:

  • nd_mysqli
  • nd_pdo_mysqli

options, as sometime WordPress won’t work properly without these being checked. But, that is how simple it is to change your PHP version.

Step 3: Install WordPress

You are now at a point where you are ready to install WordPress. Now once again, how you do this exactly comes down to which hosting company that you are using as there are a couple of different ways to do this depending on the software installer that they use but I will go through the two main options below.

Install WordPress with Installatron

The first method is done using the Installatron Applications Installer. This can be found in your Cpanel and clicking on it will bring up a list of applications that you can install on your hosting. Under the content management section of apps, you will see WordPress icon.

Click on this and it will bring up some information about the application, to begin installing it click on the Install this Application button and it will bring you to the page below.

You then need to choose a Admin username, password, admin email, website title and website tagline and you want to make sure that your username and password are strong, so it makes life difficult for not so nice people. I would recommend before clicking install at the bottom of the page is to click the advanced settings and set a schedule for site back-ups, you can select weekly or monthly.

Once you have filled out everything in and checked all the boxes that you need to, scroll to the bottom of the page and it click the Install button and it will begin installing WordPress for you. Once it has completed, you will then be able to access your admin area as well as being able to see the front end of your website.

Install WordPress with Softaculous

The second way to install WordPress is using Softaculous Apps Installer. In most Cpanels, this will have its own section and it show the WordPress app on your Cpanel dashboard. Whether you click on the WordPress icon or search for it within Softaculous, it will still bring you to a screen that gives you all the information on the WordPress cms.

To start the install process, click the install now button and it will bring you to the page as seen in the image below.

Within this page, you can choose which version of WordPress you want (always install the latest one), which protocol (choose https if you have installed an SSL certificate) and which domain name you want it installed on.

You will also need to create your website name, description, admin username, admin password and set an admin email address. Once this is all done, you are pretty much set to go. If you want, you can expand the advanced options menu and this will present another selection of options. If you are just getting started, this might be best to just leave it as it is.

Once you have done all of this, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the install button and your WordPress site will be installed. Once this is done, you will then be able to access your WordPress admin panel.

Step 4: Configure WordPress

Now, you have got the basic WordPress cms installed and while it is pretty decent out of the box, there are a few things that you want to improve on the system, especially as you are going to be building an ecommerce store and the best way to do this, is to install plugins.

The WordPress developers have made this a very easy process, just go to the Plugins section of your WordPress dashboard and click on Add New. This will bring up the WordPress Plugin Library that has thousands of free plugins to choose from.

All you have to do to find the plugin you want is to start typing the name in the search bar in the top right of the page. Once you have found the one you want, click install now and then activate to make it useable on your site.

If you have bought a premium plugin, the installation process is slightly different. You will have received your plugin in a Zip file format and to install it on your site, click the Upload Plugin button, search for it on your computer and then click the install now button. Once it is installed, you can then click activate to use it on your site.

WordPress Plugins

When you are new to WordPress, it can be confusing to know which plugins to install and which ones to avoid. Now many of the plugins you decide to use will be down to what you are planning to do with your site but there are a couple of areas that need addressing on every WordPress website and I will cover these below and recommend plugins to get you started.

Security

Because WordPress is an open source software, it has allowed the more undesirable members of society to be able to see exactly where the weak points of the system are and you want to do everything you can to make your site as secure as possible.

And while the developers behind WordPress do their best to patch these up, it is always advisable to use a reputable security plugin to enable you to add some more protection to your website.

There are some really good plugins out there such as Wordfence but my recommendation is All In One WP Security and Firewall as it not only offers a large selection of ways you can protect your site but it is very user friendly and best of all, it is free to use!

Optimisation

The next issue with WordPress that you want to address is optimisation as there are quite a few improvements that can be made, especially when you factor in WooCommerce as well.

Optimising your WordPress sites is very beneficial, as your site will load faster. This is good not only as it is a ranking factor for search engines but also improves your visitors user experience as they aren’t waiting for your website to load or clicking off because your site is taking a long time to load.

There are three main areas that you want to look at when it comes to optimising your WordPress website and they are:

  • Optimising Your Code
  • Using a Caching Plugin
  • Optimising Your Images

This might sound quite daunting as a beginner but fortunately, there are plugins out there that make this very easy to do. It is very easy when reading online guides and tutorials to go with the plugins that are quite complicated to use and in some cases, you can end up doing more harm than good. So that is why the plugins I recommend below are all beginner friendly.

  • Autoptimize – One of the most user friendly plugins for optimising your websites code. It is as simple as clicking a few check boxes and clicking save. It allows you to optimise many things including CSS, HTML and Javascript.
  • Cache Enabler – There are many caching plugins out there but this is one of the easiest to use, as with Autoptimize, it is a case of just clicking a few buttons. It has also been designed to work with Autoptimize so that they work together help your site perform at its best.
  • Smush – There is an image optimisation feature in Autoptimize but from experience, the Smush plugin does it slightly better. It is very easy to use and can be set up so that images are automatically optimised when you upload them.

This combination of plugins will give your site a real boost in performance. If you are using a web host that uses litespeed servers (such as Krystal), then you want to consider using the LiteSpeed Cache plugin as it does the same job as Autoptimize and Cache Enabler in one plugin but it does have more of a learning curve to make sure it is working as effectively as it can.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

The next type of plugin that you want to install is one that is going to make SEOing your site easier to do. Now the WordPress platform is pretty good when it comes to SEO as standard but installing a dedicated SEO plugin will make it much better as they will allow you to control your meta information and create sitemaps, that you can submit to search engines.

As with pretty much any type of plugin on WordPress, there is more than one option out there and the two most popular options when it comes to SEO plugins are:

  • Yoast – The most popular option when it comes to SEO plugins, with over 5 million active installs. It is easy to use and has a good number of options as standard. The Yoast blog is also a great resource for getting the most out of sites SEO.
  • The SEO Framework – While Yoast has many different tools to help you in creating content, The SEO Framework takes a more simplistic approach but still offers a great plugin for those who know how to create good content.

Step 5: Install WooCommerce

You are now ready to start setting up the ecommerce parts of your website and that all starts with the WooCommerce plugin. Installing it is really simple, just go to the WordPress plugin library and search for WooCommerce.

Woocommerce Add Plugin

This will produce a list of plugins that has the WooCommerce keyword in the description somewhere but the first result will be WooCommerce by Automattic. Click the Install Now button and once it has installed, click the activate button to make it useable on your site.

Once you activate the WooCommerce plugin, you will be taken to the quick start guide. This prompts you to input your business information, set up the basic PayPal payment gateway and create a shipping method. Once you have been through the quick start guide, the basics of your WooCommerce store will be set up.

While the set up guide helps you get started, it doesn’t show or tell you how to set up additional payment gateways or delivery methods. I am going to cover both of these in the next sections.

Step 6: Adding Payment Gateways

In the quick start guide, WooCommerce lets you set up PayPal standard but you probably want to add some different ones as the standard PayPal isn’t the best.

For this step, I am going to show you how to set up PayPal Checkout and Stripe, which are two of the most popular options for payment gateways, especially on new websites.

Whenever you add an additional payment gateway, you will need to install the relevant plugin to allow you to do that. This is done in exactly the same way as how you installed the WooCommerce plugin and for this tutorial, I will be using the official WooCommerce PayPal and Stripe plugins. There other ones out there that you can use and the set up process will vary slightly.

PayPal Checkout

Once you have installed and activated the plugin, you need to set it up and this can be done by going to:

WooCommerce → Setting → Payments

Once you are here, you will see the offline payment methods along with PayPal, that are included with WooCommerce. You will also see the option for PayPal Checkout, just like the image below.

You will now need to set up PayPal checkout so that it can be used on your site, to do this, you need to click the manage button and it will bring up all the settings for PayPal checkout.

The most important step when setting up PayPal Checkout is to set up the API credentials as this is links your PayPal account to your WooCommerce website and will allow you to get paid.

You also want to work through the rest of the options on the page to ensure that the plugin is set up properly and ready to use. Once you have done this, it is always worth running a few tests orders through your site to make sure everything is working properly as it is better to know now, than when you start taking orders.

Stripe

As with PayPal Checkout, you will first need to install and activate the Stripe plugin. Once you have done that, navigate to the payments tab within the WooCommerce settings and now see that Stripe is now an option for you.

With the official WooCommerce Stripe plugin, you will see lots of options such as Stripe iDeal and Stripe Alipay. Now unless you use one the payments methods mentioned, the only one you need to focus on is the Stripe – Credit Card option.

To set Stripe up, click on the Set Up button and it will show you all the settings for the gateway. Make sure that you add the Web Hook to your Stripe account settings and get all of your keys from Stripe and input them into this page.

It is up to you if you want to set it up in test mode to make test out the plugin or if you just want to go straight for live mode.

As with the PayPal Checkout plugin, it is always worth running a few test orders through to make sure that everything is working properly before you make your shop live.

Whichever payment gateway you are using on your site, you always want to make sure that the toggle bar is set to enabled, otherwise it won’t appear as an option for your customers.

Step 7: Setting Up Shipping Methods

The next step is setting up your shipping methods and this may seem a bit complicated with WooCommerce but that is what this guide is for, right?

There are two main aspects when it comes to setting up your shipping methods in WooCommerce, Shipping Zones and Shipping Classes.

Shipping Zones are areas in the world that you post, for example the UK to and also how much that postage costs. You can set up multiple shipping options within a shipping zone such as free standard delivery and express delivery, that customers can pay an additional charge for.

Shipping Classes are used to assign specific shipping rules to certain products, these become very useful if you sell a wide range products that all incur different postage costs. For example, if you sell home improvement products, a small picture frame is going to cost significantly less than an armchair to post and you can use shipping classes to separate them.

I hope that hasn’t confused you! But I will give you two examples below of how to set this up and how it can be used.

The first is going to be if your postage is simple. For example, if you sell watches, your postage costs aren’t going to be pretty standard across the board and you may want to offer free standard delivery and a paid for express delivery option.

In the second example, will be for if you have a varied range of products, like the home improvements I mentioned above.

Setting Up Simple Shipping

To start with navigate to your shipping settings (WooCommerce → Settings → Shipping) and you should see a display very similar to the image below. As we are just going to be setting up shipping for the UK in this example, hover your mouse over the United Kingdom zone name and click the edit button that appears.

WooCommerce Shipping Zones

In the edit screen, you will see the shipping method that you created in the start up guide. On this screen, you will have the option to edit an existing method or create a new one. You can also be very specific about where this zone applies by limiting it to specific postal or zip codes, this can be done by clicking the link under zone regions.

If you add a new shipping method, WooCommerce will ask you if you want to add a:

  • Flat Rate
  • Free Shipping
  • Local Pick-up

But, the free shipping option isn’t straight forward free shipping. Instead, this free shipping option is more of a promotional option that can be offered in the form of a coupon or via a minimum spend.

If you just want to offer free shipping across all of your products, you will need to create a flat rate method and set the price to zero, like in the image below.

It is as simple as that. To add an additional shipping method, just click the Add Shipping Method button and select which one you want, you then need to edit this option to set the rates you want. For this example, I chose an additional flat rate and set it up as express shipping, as you can see in the image below.

When you are charging for shipping, you also need to select whether or not your charge any tax on your shipping. This can all be done under the Tax tab within the settings section, which is made active by checking the Enable Tax Rates option in the WooCommerce general settings.

WooCommerce Flat Rate Shipping

By this point, I have now created my two shipping methods that customers can choose when they are going through the checkout and it will look something like this:

So that is how you create a simple shipping method within WooCommerce. If you want to ship to other parts of the world, then you will need to create another Shipping Zone and then follow the same process. WooCommerce will show the shipping that applies to user either by using geolocation or when the user enters their postal or zip code.

Setting Up Shipping Classes

While the simple method above will be perfectly fine for most businesses, if your business has a complex range of products that require different charges when it comes to postage. Then you are going to have set up some shipping classes within WooCommerce.

To do this involves a couple of steps over the process described above. The first is that you are going to have to create a shipping class and this is done by going into the shipping settings within WooCommerce and clicking the Shipping Classes link.

You then click the Add Shipping Class button and it will present the options like in the image below:

WooCommerce Create Shipping Class

Simply fill out these sections and then click Save and your shipping class will have been created. Once you have done this, you need to go back to the shipping zones sections in order to set up the prices for these classes. You can either edit an existing or create a new shipping method to do this.

WooCommerce Shipping Class Prices

As you can see in the image above, there are a few more options over the simple method above. You can still set a flat rate price but it is better to leave this at zero and use the new options to set the prices. As you can see, I have set the price for the ‘Heavy Items’ shipping class at 20 and any products not included in this class with be charged at a flat 5.

This allows you to create a variety of different shipping options and the most shipping classes you create, the more options you will have on this screen. But before this becomes useable, you need to assign this shipping method to product listings where this will apply.

This can be done in a few different ways. The first is in the product creation/edit page and can be done by going to the product data section and clicking the shipping tab. You can then select the shipping class you want to assign to this product by selecting it from the drop down menu.

The second is by using the quick edit feature in the product overview page and selecting the shipping class from the drop down menu next where it says shipping class.

Option three is the best option if you need to do this to numerous products as it uses the bulk edit feature. Simply check the products you want to edit, select edit from the bulk actions drop down menu and then change the shipping class next to where it says shipping class.

Step 8: Adding New Products

The next step is to start adding inventory to your WooCommerce store and they offer you a variety of different options when it comes to this, such as:

  • Simple Product
    • Physical
    • Digital
  • Grouped Product
  • External/Affiliate Product
  • Variable Product

For this guide, I am just going to be looking at how you set up a simple product and a variable product as these are the two that the majority of ecommerce websites will use.

Creating Product Categories

Before you start creating your products, it makes life simpler if you create the categories for them to go into first. This saves you from having to go back and edit your products in order to assign them to a product category.

This is very simple to do with WooCommerce and can be done by going to Products → Categories in the WordPress dashboard.

WooCommerce Product Categories

To create a new category, type the name of the category and the slug will be automatically generated from this. Then decide if you want it to be a parent category or a child of another category, you can also add a description and image for the category.

Once you have done this, click the Add New Category button and it will appear in the list on the right hand side of the screen. If you want to edit an existing category, hover your cursor over the name of the category and edit and delete options will appear, click on edit and make any changes you need to.

Creating a Simple Product

In WooCommerce, a simple product is for product listings that do not have any variations and can be used for physical or digital products. To add a new product, go to Products → Add New and it will bring up the add new product page that can be seen in the two images below:

The Add New product page is very simply laid out but I will still go through all the parts of the page, so that you know what they all do.

  • Product Title – This is the name of your product, this will also be used to create the URL for your product page.
  • Main Description – Sits underneath your product images, use this to give a detailed description of your product and include all relevant information
  • Product Data
    • General – For price and sale price
    • Inventory – Manage your stock levels and enter your product SKU
    • Shipping – Set size and weight of your products, also select Shipping Class
    • Linked Products – link other products for upsells and cross-sells
    • Attributes – Where you can choose attributes for the product such as size or colour
    • Advanced – Contains advanced settings for your products such as purchase notes and menu order
  • Short Description – Sits next to your product images, for giving a brief description of your product
  • Product Categories – Choose which category your product should go in
  • Product Tags – Short descriptive labels for your products, can be used for descriptive, organisational and SEO purposes
  • Product Image – Your main product image
  • Product Gallery – For any additional images of your product

When you are adding a new product to your store, you want to add as much information to the product page as you can, because this will give it the best chance of not only ranking in search engines but also converting your visitors into paying customers.

If you are unsure about how the two product descriptions look or work on your product page, then take a look at the image below.

WooCommerce Product Page

Creating a Digital Product

If you are creating a range of digital products rather than physical ones, then you have a couple of options in the form of check boxes in the Product Data section.

  • Virtual Product – This is ideal for services such as consulting or training where people could buy a package from you such as 5 hours 1 to 1 Guitar Lessons.
  • Downloadable Products – This is for digital products such as e-books that people can buy, which can then be downloaded from your site to their device.
WooCommerce Digital Product

As you can see in the image above, when these two check boxes are active, it removes the shipping tab from the Product Data section of the page and also adds the ability to upload or provide a link to the General tab, you can also limit the amount of downloads your customer can have, along with an expiry date.

When you are selling downloadable products, you do want to check both the Virtual and Downloadable boxes as only checking the downloadable box will not remove the shipping options.

If you are selling virtual products such as consulting and want to sell it by the hour, you can do this by checking the sold individually box on the Inventory tab.

Creating A Variable Product

Simple products are very well, simple to create but variable products are a bit more complex as there are a few more steps you need to do in order to get your products set up.

Set Up Product Attributes

The first thing you need to do is to set up product attributes for your variations. To do this, you need to the Attributes section under the Products heading in your sidebar.

When you are creating a new attribute, enter the name you want for that attribute and the way the terms within the attribute are sorted. There are four options but the main three are:

  • Custom Ordering – You choose the order in which the terms are displayed (Colors in above image)
  • Name – Alphabetic sorting based on the names you give to the terms (Size in above image)
  • Name (Numeric) – Numeric sorting, should be used for any numbered terms (Size Ladies in above image)

Once you have created the attributes, you need to set up the options, or terms within the attribute and that is done by clicking the configure terms link and on this page, you can set up all the options you need for the product.

Setting Up Product Variations

Once you have set up all of your product attributes, you can then start to set up your product variations. This is done by selecting Variable Product instead of Simple Product from the drop down menu in the Product Data section of the add new product page.

When you select variable product, the Inventory tab in the Product Data section will be replaced by a Variations tab. To begin setting up your variations, you first need to select which attributes you want to apply to that product.

WooCommerce Variable Product Attributes

Once you have selected the attribute and options you want to use in your variation, you much make sure that the Used for Variations check box is ticked. Once you have done this and selected all of the attributes you want to use, you then move to the Variations tab to begin setting them up.

WooCommerce Product Variations

To create a variation, choose the Add Variation option from the dropdown menu and click the go button. This will create a variation, which you can then edit by expanding the variation.

Within this section, you can set an image for that variation, the SKU, price, sale price, shipping class and description. Along with whether it is a physical, downloadable or virtual product and whether or not you want to manage the stock levels.

Once you have gone through and filled all of this out, the product page of your site will have a drop box appear with the variations that you created, similar to image below:

This is just with a single variation, but you can make multiple variation combinations depending on how many attributes that your product has.

Step 9: Managing Your Orders

I know this might seem a bit forward for a beginners tutorial but learning how to manage your orders early on and knowing what you need to do when you start getting them, makes life much easier and less stressful.

In its standard form, WooCommerce isn’t the best when it comes to order management, while it does a great job of sending emails to your customers to keep them updated, on your side it isn’t great.

This is because, in the dashboard there is no way to print off your order invoices or packing slips and that is why I highly recommend installing the WooCommerce PDF Invoice & Packing Slips Plugin. Not only is this plugin easy to use but it is also free as well, which is always a bonus.

Once this plugin has been installed, you now have a much better order management system in place.

Within the WooCommerce order overview page, you can now update your order statuses along with being able to print off invoices or packing slips in bulk. This makes life so much easier when you start getting more orders.

This can also check order information, make changes and manage refunds by clicking on the order. This will bring up the order information page.

Within this page, you can also see the order history and also re-send any order related emails to your customers.

To issue refunds to your customers, it all depends on the payment gateway you are using. Some will integrate with WooCommerce and allow you to do it directly from your dashboard, where as other will require you to login to their dashboard to issue the refund. You will then update the order status within the WooCommerce dashboard.

If you use tracked shipping services and want to add this information to your order updates, then I recommend installing the Advanced Shipment Tracking for WooCommerce plugin as once again, this isn’t something that you can do as standard in WooCommerce.

Step 10: Installing a WooCommerce Theme

Now that you have set your WooCommerce site up, it is time to start looking at the design aspects of your site so that it looks good and works well for your customers.

Installing a New Theme

Installing a new theme on your WordPress site is very easy and follows pretty much the same process as installing a new plugin, like I mentioned above.

Instead of going to the plugin section of the dashboard, you instead want to go the the appearance section and click on themes. This will show you what themes are already installed on your site and you will see a selection of the default themes including twenty-nineteen and twenty-twenty.

To add a new theme, click the Add New button at the top of the page and your screen should look very similar to the image below.

This is the WordPress theme library and every theme that is in here is free to use and choosing a free theme is a great way to get started. When searching for a new theme, you want to put WooCommerce as your keyword. This will then show themes that have WooCommerce integration.

Alternatively, you may already know what theme you want to use and you can search for it by typing the theme name into the search bar.

If you have purchased a premium or paid theme, you will need to upload it to your dashboard and this is done by using the Upload Theme button, which allows you to upload your theme in Zip format.

Whichever method you choose, you will have to activate the theme before it is visible on the front end of your site.

Creating a Child Theme

Before I get into how you customise your theme, you want to create a child theme for your chosen theme. The reason for this is that whenever a theme gets updated, it will override any changes that you have made to the theme, meaning that you need to go in and customise it all over again.

With a child theme, all of your changes and customisations remain, even when the parent theme is updated. There are a few different methods out there for doing this, which involve create new files within your Cpanel file manager or uploading new files to your Cpanel but the team at Lilaea Media have made a very useful Child Theme Configurator Plugin that does it all for you.

Customising Your Theme

Once have installed your chosen theme and created a child theme for it, you can then begin to customise the look of your theme so that it better fits your business and brand.

WordPress has a great tool for being able to do this and it can be found by clicking the Customise option under the Appearance section of your dashboard. This will then take you into the WordPress Customiser, which is a live editing tool that allows you to see changes instantly and preview them before publishing them to your site.

Woocommerce Customiser

The amount of options within the customiser is entirely dependent upon the theme that you are using. Some themes will offer you lots of options and really allow you to customise your site and others will be pretty limited. The icons in the bottom left of the screen let you see how your site looks of desktop, tablet and mobile devices, this is really useful and is worth checking to make sure everything is displaying properly.

Within the customiser, you will also be able to change your websites favicon, which is the icon that appears in the tabs on web browsers (like the black G on the gold background for EcommerceGold). This may only seem like a small thing but it is another aspect of branding on your website. This can be found in the Site Identity section, which is also where you can change your websites logo.

Another important thing you can do within the customiser, is set what is going to be your websites homepage. The two options are for your latest blog posts, which is the default setting or you can select a page, which has been designed for the purpose of being your homepage.

Before you start customising your new WordPress theme, it is always worth checking to see if the developer has created any documentation on the theme. Many will have some sort of guide on what options they have and how you can set it up properly.

Step 11: Creating Business Pages

The last thing that I am going to be looking at in this guide is how to create business pages for your WooCommerce site as these are really important and in some cases legal requirements, such asL

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Returns Policy
  • Contact Page

Creating a new page is very simple, just click on Add New under the pages section and it will bring up a blank page for you to start working on, as you can see in the image below.

The new Gutenberg editor allows you to build and design pages and posts using a block system. In the standard WordPress, there is a really good selection of blocks that allow for lots of formatting options including columns, images, lists and paragraphs.

There are also a selection of plugins that offer a greater range of blocks and really allow you to create custom posts and pages. Whether you are using standard blocks or ones from plugins, you will be able to see options for the block that you are using in the sidebar menu on the right, the amount of options does vary from block to block.

The other tab on in the sidebar gives you options for the post or page as a whole, including the featured image, permalink (URL) and tags. For posts, you can also select which category you want the post to be in.

Once you have finished adding content and formatting your page, you can click the preview button at the top to see how it looks on your site and when you are happy with it, clicking the publish button will allow you to make it visible to the public, private users or behind a password.

Step 12: Going Live

The final step is taking your WooCommerce site live but before you do that, I would highly recommend running some test orders and refunds/cancellations through your site to see if there are any problems that need to be ironed out.

Once you are happy with it, then get friends or family to go through the checkout procedure and see if they run into any problems. It is always better to do this than trying to sort out problems with actual paying customers.

You are now ready to go live and depending on how you have your site set up, this could be a simple as switching off maintancence mode (usually an option in your security plugin) or switching your payment gateway from testing to live.

To make sure that everything is up and running properly, use an incognito or private window on your browser and this will help you see if there are any issues going on.

Conclusion

That brings me to the end of this tutorial, I hope that you have found it useful and informative. I included all of the basic things that you need to know in order to get a WooCommerce store set up, obviously there is a lot more you can do with the platform, especially when you start using additional plugins but as a beginners guide, I didn’t want to go too in-depth.