How to build an eCommerce website with WordPress is the major question people keep on asking and for those who are interested to set up an eCommerce website, this blog post will help you achieved your goal.
Starting an E-commerce business can be pretty intimidating. There are a lot of things to consider such as website, hosting, design, management & marketing!
There are many companies out there that will charge you thousands of dollars to design an E-Commerce website – but truth be told, you can do it yourself easily without breaking the Bank!
This E-Commerce tutorial will walk you through everything you need to know on how to build an eCommerce website with WordPress step by step!
How To Build An e-commerce Website With WordPress
What You Will Learn
- How to gather what you need
- How to build an E-Commerce Website
- How to Install Your Shopping Cart System
- E-commerce website design tips and customization
- E-commerce on site SEO and link building
- E-commerce marketing and traffic generation
- How to manage and maintain your E-commerce Website store
An Introduction to how to build an eCommerce website with WordPress
Creating an e-commerce website is not as difficult as most people think, in fact, it may not require much capital to have a professional e-commerce site. Before we start the steps of creating an e-commerce site, let me explain what e-commerce means.
E-commerce means electronic commerce. It is just any type of commercial or business transaction, which deals with the transfer of information through the Internet. It primarily revolves around buying and selling products online, both digital and physical.
The word eCommerce differs or varies in the types of participants between consumers and businesses: Business to consumer, business to business and consumer to consumer.
E-commerce eliminates the main marketing problem for businesses and consumers. Examples include electronic payment, online shopping, online auctions, online ticketing and Internet banking.
Now you have known what e-commerce is and how it can help you in your online business. There are 12 steps in this tutorial on how to build an e-commerce website with WordPress.So let start from the first step.
Step 1 of how to build an eCommerce website with WordPress
Gather all the information and Material you will need.
This tutorial believed that you have the business part of the online store already figured out such as follows:
A company name,
The products or services (or both) you want to market,
The pricing for those items
Here is what you need:
A domain name (Around $9 per year)
A web host (There are many web hosting but these are the best two web hosting that are reliable.
Look for the best web host that offers “cPanel”, if you prefer a Windows-based server and other Powerful Tools. These features make installing third-party scripts, like shopping cart systems on a click.
WordPress Themes: The simplest ways to create your e-commerce website is to use WordPress, so you will need premium theme though there are some free themes that can do the job but I would prefer premium one to free theme.
A good shopping cart script: There are free shopping cart scripts like such as osCommerce and Zen Cart are the major backbones of most online stores today. Some of the web hosts will offer the open-source osCommerce script as a quick install that is why it is very important to sign up with reliable Webhosting.
There are also many others you can compare on Wikipedia and use instead if you are comfortable and have the skill of installing a script manually on your website. For the sake of this tutorial on how to build an eCommerce website with WordPress as an example, we will be using osCommerce since it is most widely accessible and well known among the others.
I will also explain how to use another WordPress theme to set up your online store or combine both osCommerce and premium WordPress theme.
A payment gateway (varies). This is one of the most important aspects of an online store. You will need an online payment processor that is reliable to accept credit cards. They validate the credit cards information and also process the transactions in the real-time without any delay, then taking a cut of transaction fees and then deposit the rest into your bank account.
Payment gateways are very important unless you want people to e-mail you checks which required little work and require a virtual business address or P.O Box to receive the check.
You can have a reliable credit card merchant account to process credit cards on your own, but payment gateways are easier to use as everything has already set up and very simple to implement.
There are many gateway payments you can use but I would like to mention two of the most important gateway.
Paypal @ paypal.com
There are many others that are worth to be checked, Google searches them if you will need them. Below is the place to get more information on the payment gateway. Freshbook and GoalsOnTrack has a price comparison chart for most of the gateway payment.
Also if you are selling software or digital product such as eBooks, Digital River is the best alternative to use. Check them here at http://www.shareit.com/ .
Step 2 of how to build e-commerce website with WordPress
Setting Up Your Website
In this step, we are going to talk about how to set up your store. It does not require much work, you don’t need to go to school before you can learn how to build an eCommerce website with WordPress.
Now you have registered your domain from one of the reputable companies such as NameCheap. You can register your domain from any of these sites if you have not.
Once you have your domain registered and pointing it to your web host, you can easily set up your site’s homepage and other static pages (such as information about you or your products) the way you would normally make a website.
If you don’t know how to create a WordPress site, then watch these videos.
There are many hosting companies but here are the best two e-commerce Webhosting below.
- HostGator: You can sign up now and save 25% using this code HGOFFERS25
Design and Development
When creating your e-commerce website is very essential to make everything attractive and have good looking. That is why you need to use a beautifully designed theme, I will list most of the themes that make your eCommerce store have a beautiful look and well designed.
eCommerce WordPress Theme
ThemeForest: Theme forest is one of the best WordPress themes which offer a TON of awesome premium E-Commerce website templates.
Thesis Theme : This is another premium theme that can be used to create a professional e-commerce website without any coding.
Also, WooCommerce theme cannot be left out, the theme was designed with a few extra options to fill out to ensure that the theme is set up correctly in conjunction with WordPress.
It is difficult to pick the theme or template for you but to your own taste it is up to you and iI would like to let you know that there are some free themes that worth to use when designing your store.
Below is my favourite, free woocommerce themes for you to potentially use in your website.
Wootique theme: Wootique theme is made by the company who actually develop woocommerce, it is very clean and simple storefront with many customization options for you to make it your own taste with a few simple changes.
You can also check wordpress.org to search for more free theme/template, you will definitely get some that can suit your taste.
Most premium themes are an awesome theme that offers some fantastic features such as awesome mobile responsive design that’s built into change with your changes.
My favourite premium themes is:
Ecommerce Theme And Development
To be frank I am not a specialist or expert on WooCommerce theme development and I will like to introduce you to Amber Weinberg that has a complete guide on WooCommerce theme development.
So, I thought I’d link to this easy complete guide!
Amber Weinberg has an awesome blog for WordPress developer, so I suggest adding her to your Bookmarks to keep up-to-date with her impressive tutorials and news pieces.
The guide offers some easy to learn things, so if you already know how to create or develop a wordpress theme, you can just change over all the skills and knowledge you already have and throw in these guides.
But if you are novices and you don’t know how to create a WordPress theme, then Derek Banas, the man behind www.newthinktank.com create a pretty cool video on making one from scratch and you will learn almost everything you need to know in under 25 minutes!
Step 3: Install Your Shopping Cart System (osCommerce)
The next step is very crucial and it is very important to know how to install a shopping cart system, which is the reason to host your store with the best hosting that has Cpanel and QuickInstall in your website cPanel (or Ensim Power Tools if it is Windows host), it is very easy to auto-install the shopping cart system using those tools.
Firstly go to your Cpanel and look under Software/Services or a similarly named section in your cPanel). For the purpose of this article, we are installing osCommerce, but the steps are similar and the same for other e-commerce tools.
Click on the “New installation” button or link to create a new installation. You will then be able to set necessary shop features such as name and email address of the store owner and the SSL option.
In osCommerce you will need to set the administrator username and password here, but most other systems like Zen Cart instead email you a generated password.
In the New installation section is also a place where you set the installation folder. If you want the store to be installed in the root directory of your domain i.e.yourwebsite.com when visitors visit your site, they will directly enter the shop, then leave the folder blank.
Otherwise, choose a directory name like “catalogue” or “shop” for the installation; this way you can have customized web pages around your ecommerce store and link to your shop from there.
The osCommerce script will auto set up the store database in MySQL for you and provide you with a link to both your base shop and the administration area.
Installing and Configuring WooCommerce
Installing and configuring WooCommerce is very simple and you will learn everything from the below video. It will show you how to install WordPress onto a brand new domain, and also Install WooCommerce and configure it to fit your industry, payment settings and countries taxes.
This is literally simple. Now, all we have to do is to move on to installing the theme to make our site look pretty and setup other necessary aspects for the store itself.
Step 4 of how to build an eCommerce website with WordPress
Customize Your Ecommerce Website Shop
You can see that learn how to build an eCommerce website with WordPress is very easy and simple.
Another step is to customize your online store, osCommerce and other shopping systems are nice-looking feature-rich. OSCommerce has over 7,000 add-ons directory to help you customize your eCommerce web store. The add-on can help You to keep track of your products in stock, add different tax classes and rates, check advanced reports, and more.
Changing the Logo and Footer of Your Ecommerce Store
The first thing when customizing your store is to change the logo and remove the osCommerce footer graphic. From the admin panel, go to Configuration > Store Logo to save a new store logo.
In order to adjust the footer, you only need to edit the english.php file under the (your store or shop directory]/includes/languages/ folder. You can open the file directly from your web host using the built-in cPanel file manager. The footer text is defined in the second-to-last line of the language file. Remove this part: ‘’Powered by osCommerce’’ and you are done.
If you want to remove the banner graphic, from Tools > Banner Manager in the admin panel, delete the osCommerce banner.
More basic configurations
There are some other things to configure in the administration panel. Just go to Configuration > My Store to set things like your country etc. Play around and see what you can do to make your store suite your taste.
If you use only WooCommerce Theme
There are many places where you can design Logos such as www.odesk.com and www.48hourslogo.com
48 Hours Logo is a great place to check if you need a professional logo that suite your eCommerce store.
Step 5 of how to build an eCommerce website with WordPress
Setting Up Your Categories/Products
In this section, I will be talking about how to create category/products for your ecommerce store, and the main section you will be working in is the Catalog, where both categories and products are listed. osCommerce sets up an electronics shop for you by default, and you can modify it if you’re selling clothes or other materials in which you’ll need to customize the categories (and definitely products).
The best way to do this is to use the online admin interface to add categories and products which is straightforward. What you need is to select a category/product image and enter in the other details needed such as description, name, etc.
If you have more products, turn to osCommerce add-ons that allow for importing products from an Excel spreadsheet, CSV file, or other delimited text file, bypassing the web interface altogether.
You only need to download the add-on, for example, Easy Populate & Products Attributes, which works with most of shopping cart systems. Make sure you follow its directions to install it in your store directory.
After you have installed the add-on, you can then download a model CSV file which you can edit with your products/services. The unique key for each product is in the v-products model column; also you can specify product image locations in the v-products image column.
Once you are through with creating your products/services CSV file, you need to go back to the admin panel and import it.
It is very crucial to back up your store through the database from the Quick Back up button in the Easy Populated or from the admin panels tool >Database Back up Manager section. This is important in case of any problem.
If you are using wooCommerce theme, it has everything you need and has built a premium plugin called the “Product CSV Import Suite” which can help you without any stress .Check wooCommerce plugin here
Step 6 of how to build an ecommerce website with WordPress
Handle Fulfillment and Shipping
When it comes to how to set up an eCommerce website store, the aspect of handling and shipping is very essential since we are selling online, so I will be walking through how to go about the setting of handling and shipping.
By now you have got your products all imported, the next thing is to set up your fulfilment section. It only takes few minutes to do it. Both shipping costs and payment methods can be found under the Modules section in the administration panel.
For the payment options, there are many add-on and modules you can install for different payment gateways which including PayPal, 2Checkout, and others. There are more additional modules you can download such as Checkout by Amazon from the add-ons directory.
When your customer checks out from your eCommerce store, they will be directed immediately to the secure payment sites of one of these gateways.
Learn more about amazing selling machine 11 review
For shipping, you need to specify per item shipping costs, rates for different zones etc.
If there is an order you will get an email about every new order that arrives, so you can easily handle shipping out the items as they come in.
Step 7 of how to build Ecommerce website with wordpress
Add Other Shopping Cart Modules and Customization
Once you are through with handling and shipping, you can customizing your store with built-in modules such as adding discounts and specials or modules from the community add-ons for adding more subcategories, random products boxes, FAQ desk, and more.
Installing the third-party add-ons commonly involves editing a few lines of the configuration files and then uploading them to the ecommerce store folder, just makes sure you backup your site.
If there is need to modify how the osCommerce site looks, just edit the stylesheet.css file in your main folder. If you don’t know how to edit your stysheet.css, read some basic CSS info to get you started; you can change the colour of your box headers and more in that CSS file. The default image can also be replaced in the image/infobox folder.
Below are the other files you can check for more configuration if there is need for it
Right column.php files
Alternatively you can find more template/theme from Theme Forest but have it in mind that changing the theme may or may not override any customizations you did before.
Tips: You can hire a professional designer to help you in this aspect is a good ideal especially if you have little capital.
Step 8: SEO Optimizing the Entire E-Commerce Website
Now we are in step 8 of how to build an eCommerce website with WordPress. This aspect is very important if you want to get more traffic from search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Ping.
There are two types of SEO, Onpage SEO and Off-page SEO which is also known as a backlink. Both are very essential and I would like to address on-page SEO first.
OnPage SEO is pretty important and most E-Commerce stores really don’t optimize their on-page optimization for individual products, whereas I have seen epic success through it. Make sure every product has a unique 180 to 200 words and a killer Meta description and title.
If you are using the WooCommerce template to build your store, then Yoast’s WooCommerce SEO Plugin may be worth checking.
For those that know Yoast from his awesome free WordPress SEO plugin, but they also offer a premium WooCommerce plugin.
However you don’t necessarily need it, but it can be an awesome extra bonus for just $29 to help further improve your sites SEO.
For the Metadata description, we will be using the Yoast WordPress free SEO Plugin but if you want to get a better result and increase your conversion then I strongly recommend SEO PROCESSOR. SEO PROCESSOR is the best SEO plugin on the entire internet used by millions of bloggers.
After installing the SEO plugin, you will get an added extension to the editing page like this
Meta titles are certainly important as you want to appeal to the visitors, as most visitors will just look at the Meta title and click through, at the same time it is necessary to optimized for the search engines themselves.
When it comes to product description I am not expecting you to spend hours on writing generic descriptions about your products but there is a service you can use to make the work easier for you. Natasha Nixon offers some killer content on the cheap!
Though they said their SEO articles are not actually meant for web use, there are many people using this service and found them to be perfectly suitable in as much as you give as much detail as possible.
Step 9 of how to build an eCommerce website with wordpress
Getting Traffic To E-Commerce Store
I will show you how to get traffic to your eCommerce store though some of this methods are considered as old method but if you follow them you will see traffic flowing into your store.
This aspect of getting traffic is very important, no matter what you are selling you can only make sales if people see your product and how are they going to know that there is store somewhere. For you to be successful in your store you need to attract targeted traffic to your Ecommerce store.
I would like to start from link building, there are various ways to build backlinks to your website and attract free traffic from search engine.
9.1 Link Building For Traffic Generation
Finding Related Forums
This method is very simple, you can use your Google to search for the related forum by inputting a Google footprint like: inurl: forum “keyword here”
You will be able to find a ton of different forums, read their rules and regulation before start posting.
You can also check out Matthew Woodward post on how to find and engage your audience with some forum posting tips!
9.2 Outreach and Guest Posting. Guest posting is another way to get traffic to your E-Commerce store. If you don’t know how to quest post then I will handle you to one of the famous blogger Post Kristi, He wrote an in-depth article on Quest Blogging.
9.3 Private Blog Network Links
Another way to build quality backlinks to your E-Commerce website is to use tools that can help you and reduce your time wasting in link building. I normally use most of these services to build these kinds of links. One of the importance of using private blog networks is that they offer contextual links on highly authoritative sites at a reasonably cheap price.
Step 10 of how to build Ecommerce website with WordPress
PPC and Media Buy Traffic Generation
Getting traffic to your E-Commerce website through PPC and media buy is the easiest way to attract targeted traffic and at the same time if care is not taking one may lose money. There are some rules and regulation in setting up a PPC campaign which beyond the scope of this article.
10.1 PPC Ads
PPC from Google Adword and MSN Adcenter are the best known.
10.2 Magazines: Find a magazine that YOUR potential customers are reading within your niche.
http://www.google.com/adwords/tvads/ (Recommended to start with)
10.4 Online Media Buying
Another way to get instant traffic to your site is online Media Buying. Online media buying can include pop-ups, email, Test links, Video ads, widgets and other new media. Media buying is also known as display advertising (banner)
10.5 : Use an ad network. (How to get millions of ad impressions)
Test your ad using an ad network that has PPC or small CPM commitment: www.google.com/adwords/displaynetwork/ (Recommended place to start)
Take winning campaigns to high volume display ad networks…
Warning: Even the paid traffic experts lose a lot of money on most campaigns before making money. You have to have some liquidity to be able to play at this level, AND I do not recommend attempting it until you have studied it in more depth and know how they work.
Step 11 of how to build an eCommerce website with wordpress
Maintaining your E-Commerce store, Traffic and SEO!
Learning how to build an eCommerce website with WordPress may not be difficult but maintaining your eCommerce store may require more work but here are the simple ways to make everything easy to manage.
This can be tough once your site starts getting traffic and customers, having orders flying in, people asking for more information, to manage your SEO and general online promotion campaign as well as all other juicy traffic you have and want to convert into sales.
Always check your shop reports frequently to monitor how it’s doing. Also, make sure you subscribe to your shopping cart system’s news feeds to make sure you have the latest patches and information. Check sosCommerce’s news site, if you are using other shopping cart make sure you check update regularly.
11.1 Keeping up with your SEO Campaign
It is advisable to know little about SEO, there are many places you can learn SEO as it is crucial to your E-Commerce traffic generation through search engines. I talked about link building in (step 9) you can check the tutorial and review of the tools mentioned there as it will help you .Learn how to build quality links through those tools is by far better than pay companies’ huge amount of money to do it for you.
On page SEO
Onpage SEO is a way to link one product page to another for easy navigation. Make sure you check your onpage SEO to know if there is any mistake or error and correct it.
If you have an E-Commerce website with hundreds and thousands of products, then use TELLO to do the category of products every month, you will soon see the benefits of having every products onPage optimized when the traffic continues to roll into your e-commerce store for a ton of different long tail keywords.
If you are running a pretty small E-Commerce site then use Moz’s OnPage reports to take a look at any onPage errors you might have, in case so that you can continue to tweak your onpage until it is perfected.
When writing your product description you should always centre on having unique products description in all the product pages to avoid duplicate content issues which can affect your website traffic and ranking.
This is very important especially when you are reselling the products that are also available from other sources. There are some E-Commerce websites having duplicate content issues and being the target of a Google Animal attack (Panda), due to lack of unique content on their product pages.
Internet has jam-packed with a lot of different information and activities such as fraud which need to be prevented. You can check CCarter from WickedFire.There is another site I would like you to visit which offer a real-time tracking of users on multiple site. Their service is awesome, make sure you check out their How it works page to learn more about what Sift actually does.
Moving to step 12 of how to build ecommerce website with WordPress, don’t you need more resources to gain more knowledge on how to set up an eCommerce website? I’m going to show you where you can further your study and gain more skills.
Extra Resources & Guides to Follow
I thought it is necessary to add some extra resources for you guys to learn even more especially if there some areas I did not mention. If you need to know more about E-Commerce, then check these resources.
How to Make a Web Site: The Complete Beginner’s Guide-By Melanie Pinola
Decrease your E-Commerce Sites Page Load Time by James Gurd
A Complete Guide To SEO For E-Commerce by David McSweeney
Complete Guide To SEO by NEIL PATE
6 Most Effective Web Techniques To Generate Free Traffic by Oyundoyin Anthony
How To Double Your Traffic With YouTube By Oyundoyin Anthony
Thanks for taking the time to read this tutorial on how to build an e-commerce website with WordPress and I hope you enjoying and gain one or two things. What do you think about creating an E-Commerce website?
You can add more to it through your comment and let people share from your experience. If you have any question on how to set up an e-commerce website don’t be hesitate to ask for your comment.