Creating an online store is more than just setting a website and expecting customers to roll in. Building an ecommerce shop that would grow, thrive and succeed calls for many things including your understanding of the market that you seek to serve, your understanding of the tools that you want to use to create your own online shop, how much time you are willing to put in to make that dream a reality and mostly and perhaps more importantly, where and how you host that website.
When it comes to ecommerce, picking the right ecommerce website builder and web hosting platform to power your online store is probably one of the difficult and important decisions you will make. But in all, whatever options you elect to go with, it must be fast, secure, and feature-filled.
While we offer other ecommerce solutions like 1-Click Magento HostingMagento hosting, OpenCart CMS Hosting With FREE SSL, Japan’s most favorite ecommerce solution EC-Cube and tons of other one, we often see customers also turning to WordPress because of its ease of use.
And one of the WordPress ecommerce plugins we have seen our customers go with is Woocommerce often describe as the “the most customizable eCommerce platform for building your online business.”
But what is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an open source platform backed by a large community and built to integrate seamlessly with WordPress, making it the obvious eCommerce choice for existing WordPress users and connecting you to the WordPress ecosystem. With it, you can sell real products and digital downloads to subscriptions, content and even your time, you’ll be able to set up a WooCommerce store to sell worldwide (or by country, as you wish).
It is mobile-friendly that you can turn your existing WooCommerce store into a mobile app with no custom coding by using a few third party tools/services, scales as you grow and the source code was audited security teams to ensure that it adheres to WordPress best practices and coding standards, and is kept secure and up-to-date.
With over 1+ million active installs and a 4.6 user rating on WordPress.org, it is safe to say that WooCommerce is one of the most popular free ecommerce solutions for WordPress. According to BuiltWith, as of January 2017, WooCommerce powered 42% of all online stores! So if you’re looking to open an online store on your WordPress-powered website, WooCommerce should be high on your list of contenders.
In this tutorial below, Joerg Strotmann shows you how quick and easy it is to set up your own WooCommerce online store starting with the basic steps.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Choosing a fast and secure hosting environment
- Installing WordPress
- Installing and activating the WooCommerce plugin
- Choosing the proper theme for your site
- Importing the WooCommerce Dummy Data
- Managing multiple WooCommerce installations
- Adding additional protection for your online store
1. Choosing A Fast And Secure Hosting Environment
As millions of online stores comes online each day, you want your own website to be fast.
Not only for the comfort of your customers, but because it is a critical factor when it comes to ranking higher on serach engines.
Yes, Google do use a multitude of factors to determine how to rank search engine results. Typically, these factors are either related to the content of a webpage itself (the text, its URL, the titles and headers, etc.) or were measurements of the authenticity of the website itself (age of the domain name, number and quality of inbound links, etc.). However, in 2010, Google did something very different. Google announced website speed would begin having an impact on search ranking. Now, the speed at which someone could view the content from a search result would be a factor.
So you can see that when it comes to choosing who will host your website, a fast and secure hosting environment is of utmost importance.
While it may seem that we are blowing our own horn, nobody wants a slow-loading WordPress website. You need a super-fast WordPress that loads under 2 seconds. Take a look at this vanilla WordPress install at: trainer.shoes. It loads in under 2 seconds.
It must be of interest to you to know that every single website on our servers is primed to be that super-fast just trainer.shoes. You can migrate now and get FREE SSL, SEO tools and brand new cPanel or Plesk server on a SSD hosting platform optimized for WordPress.
As you will be starting out with a small inventory (which means limited customer traffic) for now, we recommend our small business hosting package. The beauty of it is that you don’t have to invest in costly infrastructure since it is designed to automatically grow as your online gains traction with customers and traffic explodes.
We also offer to our users over 12 regions around the world and you retain complete control and ownership over the region in which your data is physically located, making it easy to meet regional compliance, data residency requirements and also to reduce latency so that your website loads as fast as it can for your customers.
But as you grow and your web store becomes popular, you will an enterprise custom solution and OCS Hosting is a high-performance service provider. Not only can we provide you a ecommerce hosting environment that will grow infinitely, we can design the architecture, deploy it on any region that you choose and manage it for you.
In addition to that, there are several technical considerations to take into account:
Having a PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant host guarantees that your web host takes security seriously and maintains it continuously. Our hosting platform was built from the ground up on an infrastructure that is compliant with the newly released PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
Having a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate bundled within your hosting plan ensures the security for your website by encrypting communication between the server and the person visiting your online store. It’s required for all e-commerce sites that accept credit card payments online.
Each website deployed on our servers comes with free SSL that renews automatically.
We also cheap EV SSL/TLS certificates and other others and will install these for you without any charge, when you are ready.
Since this tutorial was done using our Plesk hosting, all these are taken care of for you. All of our web hosting customers using Plesk can deploy SSL protection in a few steps. This means you don’t need to purchase your certificate separately and struggle with installation.
While our customers can select the version of PHP they want to run their website with, we totally support PHP 7, because it is twice as fast as PHP 5.6. It takes just a click to enable PHP7.
- Yes, our hosting platform is built with speed, security and stability in mind, but we highly recommend using a caching plugin to ensure that your site is lightning fast and improve your Google pagerank. Again, a slow site can push you down in Google’s rankings, and your website visitors might give up trying to explore your store if it takes too long to load.
We are a Cloudflare hosting provider and platinum partner. So you can also either use our native Cloudflare integration where with a single click, your website runs under their global CDN or ask us to implement a custom CDN for your website.
2. Installing WordPress
In this example, Plesk Onyx control panel is used to install WordPress and the Plesk WordPress Toolkit, to simplify the WordPress installation process.
WordPress Toolkit is a single management interface that enables you to easily install, configure, and manage WordPress.
With it, you can mass-manage and secure your WordPress instances, plugins and themes, clone your WordPress site and create a staging environment to experiment on new plugins, tweak your themes, or create custom code without risking the production site.
The Plesk WordPress Toolkit is ideal for your WooCommerce store because it helps you manage your infrastructure and security, and also offers a ready-to-code environment, Let’s Encrypt, Free SSL certificates, CloudFlare CDN, DDoS mitigation, PHP7, and other powerful technologies. Most importantly for this case, it also offers a 1-click installation to install WordPress.
Installing WordPress in Plesk Onyx is as simple as heading to the applications tab on your control panel and picking a WordPress version to install, as seen in the screenshot above.
During the installation, like most common applications, a progress bar is presented, showing how far you are through the process. A few seconds later and everything is done.
You will see the admin dashboard which is available immediately after WordPress has been installed. On the dashboard, you are presented with an overview of your installation where you can see key details, such as the site name, URL, administrator’s details. On the right-hand side, there are links to your key management options for configuring themes, plugins and security.
3. Installing The WooCommerce Plugin
Clicking Manage Themes or Manage Plugins from the admin dashboard immediately gives you the ability to install, activate, or delete a plugin or installed theme of your WordPress installations – as shown in the screenshot below.
Adding WooCommerce is as easy as 1-2-3
Click Manage Plugins > Install Plugin at the top of the plugin list and search for WooCommerce to install. Click on Install.
Plesk Onyx keeps everything in one location, making managing plugins ever so much simpler than in a standard WordPress installation.
- To activate an inactive plugin, click the checkbox next to its name and click Ok
- Want to disable a plugin? Uncheck it and click Ok
- Want to delete a plugin? Click on the bin icon on the right
Immediately after activating the plugin, you’re taken to the onboarding wizard. You can use the wizard, or skip it and manually set up everything. We recommend giving the wizard a go if it’s your first time using the platform. Let’s check it out together by clicking on Let’s Go!
The wizard first helps to set up pages needed for an ecommerce online store, such as the shop page, cart page and checkout. Select Continue to automatically install pages.
Next is your store’s location, currency and dimensional units for shipping calculations (cm, inches). WooCommerce automatically detects your location using your IP address and selects the country, currency and units. Confirm that the data is correct, and then select Continue.
Shipping & Tax
Shipping and Taxes can be enabled for your online store, if needed. If you enable taxes, further options will appear. Choose how to enter prices, with/without tax, and check the list of taxes WooCommerce will create for you (can change later). Consult a tax professional to ensure your rates are correct.
Finally, how you want to be paid.
- PayPal powered by Braintree and/or Stripe — free, separate plugins we offer — are downloaded automatically from WordPress.org.
- If you enable PayPal Standard, enter an email address associated with that account.
Your online is ready to roll.
The wizard is complete, and now you’re ready to start selling. The only remaining action is to add your products. Select the big Create your first product! button.
Or you can click through to access the setup guides and educational resources.
If you’ve skipped the wizard when you installed WooCommerce, you can run the wizard again. Go to: Help > Setup Wizard and select Setup Wizard.
4. Installing The Proper Theme For Your Site
Say you want to install the Storefront theme, designed and developed by WooCommerce Core developers, or its free child theme Boutique, designed for small WooCommerce online stores/boutiques.
In the pop-up window, look for Storefront, or Boutique and click OK. Your theme will be activated after a few moments.
5. Importing The WooCommerce Dummy Data
After you’ve installed WooCommerce, perhaps you’d like to see what your pages and products might look like. If so, WooCommerce has made some sample data available for us. Just right click and download it from here.
Dummy data contains products with images that will work with any theme. However, it doesn’t contain the same photos as the Storefront demo, as the demo uses proprietary photography.
From the WordPress admin, go to Tools > Import and select the WordPress option. If you don’t have the WordPress importer installed, first install it by selecting Install Now.
Once that’s installed select Run Importer, Choose file, and select the dummy-data.xml file you downloaded earlier.
You’ll then have the option to import a default author, create a new user, or assign the posts to an existing user. This is your decision to make, although we’d recommend assigning the posts to an existing user.
After that be sure to check or uncheck the Download and import file attachments checkbox, because this will import all the sample product images to your site if checked.
Click Submit and your dummy data will be imported. Congrats, you now have some sample data in WooCommerce to learn from!
6. Manage Multiple WordPress Installations
If you’d like to set up multiple online stores, or if you manage stores for multiple clients, then you should consider using Plesk Onyx to install and manage your all your WordPress installations. When you’re done, as in the screenshot below, you’ll see multiple sites in your WordPress installation list.
The main benefit of using Plesk Onyx control panel for multiple stores is the flexibility to set up, configure, update and secure one store, a set of stores, or all your stores at one go, including for tasks such as security scans, audits, and updates.
In fact, Plesk also allows you to schedule tasks to occur automatically, which we’ll be looking at in a later post.
7. Adding Additional Protection For Your Online Store
Security is as important a topic as ever, so it’s essential to keep track of the security touchpoints on your online store.
If you use Plesk, click Secure under Manage Plugins on your control panel to configure settings for:
- File and directory permissions
- Directory browsing permissions
- Security on the wp-contents and wp-includes folders
- Security keys
For instance, you can see in the screenshot above that my Security of the configuration file and Directory browsing permissions on my WordPress installation are no longer up to date. To rectify that, all I’ll need to do on my Plesk control panel would be to check the checkboxes next to each of them and then click OK. Plesk will make the appropriate changes and add a green tick when complete.
Should I want to undo this action, I can click Rollback, which will reverse the changes and restore my original files and settings.
Is Plesk a requirement to set up your online store?
Not really. It is actually a choice.
After all, we also provide cPanel ecommerce hosting and host of other ecommerce solutions.
But frankly, Plesk Onyx and the Plesk WordPress toolkit makes it surprisingly easier to set up your ecommerce store. We believe that your time could be better spent managing and growing your business, than fiddling with technical updates and security settings.
Do you want to start now or explore this option further?
Please visit these pages below to understand more of our web hosting options:
- Fully Managed Elastic, Scalable SSD cPanel Hosting
- Super-Fast Plesk Panel Web Hosting Trial – FREE SSL
And if you want to migrate your WordPress install to a faster, scalable web hosting platform, please visit these ones for an in-depth look:
If you have any question and concern, our technical support and sales team are always 24 hours available to you.