#eCommerce

A Guide To Moving Your Brick-and-Mortar Business Online With WooCommerce

February 24, 2022

If the idea of moving your brick-and-mortar store online has been bugging you for a while, we’re here to tell you that it’s the right thing to do. In this era, not having online operations for your physical store puts you at a disadvantage compared to peers. This disadvantage was magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic when suddenly physical stores were closed to reduce the spread of the virus. Businesses worldwide scrambled to move their operations online.

The dominance of e-commerce over brick-and-mortar retail operations is gradually increasing. The future trend is that people will make most purchases online, and brick-and-mortar stores won’t be as important anymore.

Having an idea is one thing, and implementing it is another. You may have the nudging to move your brick-and-mortar store online but don’t know how to go about it, so we’ll help you. We’ll advise you on how to move your physical store online through WooCommerce.

To the unknown, WoCommerce is the most popular e-commerce plugin for WordPress, which is, in turn, the world’s most popular content management system (CMS). WooCommerce is designed for small to large-sized online merchants using WordPress. It enables them to set up an online store and accept orders with relative ease. WooCommerce powers over 5 million websites, representing about 25% of all e-commerce stores.

A brief history of WooCommerce

WooCommerce launched in September 2011 as a plugin developed by WordPress theme developer WooThemes. WooThemes was founded by a trio of entrepreneurs named Mark Forrester, Adii Pienaar, and Magnus Jepson. WooCommerce took off like a rocket and became the leading e-commerce plugin for WordPress users.

WooCommerce crossed 7 million downloads in 2015. In that same year, its developer WooThemes was sold to Automattic, which owns WordPress.com. WooCommerce now has over 5 million active installs and 86 million all-time downloads.

Why is WooCommerce so popular?

WooCommerce is the most popular choice for WordPress users because of its ties to Automattic, the company that owns the WordPress.com platform and is a core contributor to the WordPress open source project. It’s also free to install and use. Other factors that make it a popular choice includes;

  • It’s responsive and works well on all types of devices
  • It’s user-friendly. You don’t need to be an expert to install and manage it
  • It’s very secure
  • It’s very customizable due to being an open-source project at its core
  • Supports additional functionalities via plugins
  • Excellent customer support

How to set up a WooCommerce store

The first step in setting up a WooCommerce online store is to sign up for the WordPress platform. To sign up, you can use WordPress.com or any other intermediaries that offer WordPress hosting. The signing-up process is usually straightforward. It costs money to host a WordPress site but not necessarily much money. If your brick-and-mortar operations aren’t large, you wouldn’t need a hosting plan of the highest capacity.

Here’s a preview of the required steps to launch a WooCommerce store;

  • Get a custom domain name to look professional.
  • Select a WordPress web hosting provider
  • Install the WooCommerce plugin and run the setup wizard
  • Choose a suitable payments processor
  • Choose a theme, advisably a visually appealing theme
  • Add products to your store
  • Launch the site!

Let’s expand on these steps.

1. Get a custom domain name to look professional

Your domain name is a significant factor in setting up your WooCommerce store because that’s how customers will find you. Endeavor to pick a domain name that’s simple and related to your line of business so that customers can find you easily. For example, if your business sells dog food, a domain name like PetTasty.com will suffice. You can also use the brand name for your existing physical store to select a domain, preferably with the .com suffix.

Domain names are often cheap, but some are expensive due to high demand. To get a domain name, you’ll need a domain name provider, of which there are many. NameCheap, Hover, Google Domains, and Domain.com are common examples of domain providers.

Factors to consider when choosing a domain name includes;

  • Choose a domain that’s easy to pronounce and spell
  • Keep it as short as possible
  • Avoid hyphens
  • Avoid using double letters
  • Avoid uncommon top-level domain names, e.g., .tv, .xyz, .cc

2. Select a web hosting provider

After choosing a domain name, it’s time to pick a web hosting provider that’ll host your e-commerce site. Usually, web hosting providers also offer domain names. It’s advisable to use the same provider for your domain name and hosting for easy setup.

Your hosting plan will depend on the amount of sales volume you expect to generate. If your physical store is a mom-and-pop, you can pick a small plan costing less than $50 per month. Otherwise, if your physical store is a big one, ensure to pick a sizable hosting plan with enough bandwidth and capacity. Large hosting plans can cost a few hundred dollars each month.

Your web hosting provider holds the fate of your store in their hands, so endeavor to pick one that offers good service. Some key factors to consider when choosing one includes;

  • Bandwidth and storage
  • Pricing and renewal policy
  • Customer support
  • Uptime guarantee
  • Ability to handle traffic spikes with ease
  • Load time
  • Security
  • Refund options

You’ll be needing WordPress for your WooCommerce store, so endeavor to pick a host that supports the platform. Afterward, install WordPress to begin setting up your store.

3. Install the WooCommerce plugin

Once you’ve set up WordPress, the next step is to install the WooCommerce plugin that’ll support your online store. Installing the plugin is very straightforward. You click on the “plugins” menu on your WordPress dashboard and search for “WooCommerce”, which should return a valid result quickly. Installing WooCommerce is free, and the setup process is relatively easy.

The installed WooCommerce plugin will be the backbone of your online store.

4. Choose a suitable payments processor

After installing the WooCommerce plugin, the next step is to choose a payments processor that you’ll use to accept payments from customers. WooCommerce allows you to pick one easily by installing an extension.

The payments processor you pick is critical. Choosing the payment gateway that ideally fits your target audience is bound to drive sales at your online store. For example, if your target audience is millennials who often use ‘buy now, pay later (BNPL)’ services, you should choose a BNPL payment gateway.

There are hundreds of payment gateways to choose from, but a few stand out among the rest as the most popular ones. They include Authorize.net, Checkout.com, Stripe, and Square.

Some key factors to consider when choosing a payment gateway includes;

  • Transaction fees
  • Ease of use
  • Currency conversion
  • Security
  • Geographical support
  • Customer support

5. Choose a theme

After choosing the ideal payment gateway, the next step is to select the theme of your WooCommerce store. The theme determines the looks of your site and how presentable it’ll be to your visitors. WooCommerce provides some free themes, but they are usually too generic and not as good-looking as custom ones made by certified developers.

We recommend that you find a visually appealing theme from the WooCommerce Theme Store. You can get one for less than $100.

WordPress allows extensive theme customization so that you can edit any theme you install to meet your unique tastes. If you have the budget, you can enlist the services of a WooCommerce development agency to help you build or customize your theme.

6. Add products to your store

After setting up the WooCommerce plugin, picking a payment gateway, and getting a good theme, the foundation for your store is laid. The next big step is to add the products you’ll sell to your customers. First, you should add some product categories to organize your products and make them easy for customers to find. To add categories to your WooCommerce store, head to Products > Categories in your dashboard. Give the category a name, URL slug, and image if required.

After adding product categories, you can also add product tags. Tags aren’t necessary, but they can quickly help site visitors find your products. Once you’ve added tags, it’s time to add the product. Click on Products > Add New. First, name the product, assign any categories or tags and add images. Preferably, use high-definition photos because they’re more attractive to visitors and help drive sales.

There are two text boxes in the menu for adding products, one for a long description and the other for a short description that the customer will see. The product description is the perfect place to market your product to potential buyers. A catchy, exciting product description will serve you well, but it shouldn’t be too long to read.

Next, you’ll move into the “Product Data” section, where you’ll select the stock-keeping unit (SKU) number, manage inventory, and set prices. You’ll also specify your shipping options at this point and other advanced settings, such as adding a purchase note and selecting checkout methods. Afterward, you can publish the product! Congratulations at this point for adding your first product. You can repeat the process to add as many products as you like.

7. Launch your site

As you’ve placed products that you’ll be selling on your online store, it’s time to launch it. Congratulations on converting your brick-and-mortar store into an online shop!

Promoting your new store

You’ve launched your store, but it doesn’t just stop there. You’ll need to promote it on various online platforms. You’re just one out of over 5 million WooCommerce stores, so there’s an intense rivalry to attract customers. Some ways to promote your store include;

Social media

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are valuable platforms to spread your brand. You should launch social media channels for your online store and promote your products there. Even, you can integrate your WooCommerce store with Instagram or Facebook so that users can browse your products right on the app.

Creating the right content is key to attracting and retaining social media followers. You can also run some self-serve advertising campaigns.

Email

Email is another medium that you can utilize to reach customers. 59% of online shoppers say that marketing emails influence their purchasing decisions. Using an email marketing app such as Mailchimp, you can collect email addresses from visitors and use them for marketing your products.

Email is also a valuable tool to reach customers who added items to their cart but didn’t end up buying them. Research shows that customers open 45% of abandoned cart emails, and half of the clicks on abandoned cart emails result in a recovered sale.

Referral Program

You can run a referral program to entice customers to spread the word about your store in their social circles. Offer discounts and perks (for example, free shipping, 10% off) to customers who refer their friends to your store. WooCommerce has many extensions you can use for this purpose.

Final Words

Converting your brick-and-mortar store into an online store can be hectic, but it’s a rewarding journey. WooCommerce provides a relatively easy and inexpensive way to do that. In this article, we’ve given you an overview of the steps to take to move your brick-and-mortar store online with WooCommerce. Additional measures may be required, but this article has given you the foundation to build.

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