Do you want to open your own store online? We know that building an online store can be scary, especially if you don’t know much about computers.
Well, you’re not alone. After helping hundreds of people start online stores, we decided to write the most complete guide on how to build your online store with WordPress (step by step)
What do you need to open a store online?
Today is the best time in history to start an online business.
Anyone with a computer can start in a few minutes without having to learn anything special.
You need these three things to start an online store:
1. A domain name idea (this will be the business name of your online store i.e wpbeginner.com)
2. A website host account (this is where your website lives on the internet)
3. 30 minutes of your full attention.
Yes, it really is that easy.
With WordPress, you can set up your own online store in less than 30 minutes, and we’ll walk you through every step.
In this guide, we’ll talk about:https://youtu.be/H2mAWuw4-ks
1. How to get a free domain name registration
2. How to Choose the Best WooCommerce Host
3. How to Get an SSL Certificate for Free (required for accepting payments)
4. How to set up WordPress and a WooCommerce store
5. How to Put Products in Your Online Store
6. How to Choose Your Theme and Change It
7. How to Add Plugins to Your Online Store
8. Learning to Use WordPress and Grow Your Business Are You Prepared? Let’s get started.
Continue reading if you don’t like the video or need more information.
Step 1: Set up the platform for your online store
The biggest mistake most people make with their online stores is not choosing the right platform.
You won’t make that mistake now that you’re here, though.
We recommend Shopify or WordPress + WooCommerce, which are both popular eCommerce platforms.
Shopify is a fully hosted eCommerce solution that starts at $29 per month (paid monthly or yearly upfront to earn a discount). It’s a simple solution that lets you start selling as soon as you log in. The bad thing about Shopify is that it can get very expensive, and you don’t have many payment options unless you pay extra fees.
Because of how flexible WordPress + WooCommerce is, this is why most people choose it. It does take some work to set up, but it pays off in the long run. WordPress is the most popular way to make a website, and WooCommerce is the biggest eCommerce platform in the world (see: Shopify vs WooCommerce comparison).
In this guide, we’ll show you how to use WordPress and WooCommerce to set up an online store.
You need a domain name, web hosting, and an SSL certificate to set up your eCommerce store.
Your website’s address on the web is its domain name. It is what people will type into their browsers to get to your website (for example: google.com or wpbeginner.com).
Web hosting is the place on the internet where your eCommerce site lives. It’s where your website lives on the web. Web hosting is needed for every site on the internet.
Bluehost has agreed to give our users a free domain name, a free SSL certificate, and a discount on web hosting. Bluehost is an official WordPress and WooCommerce recommended hosting provider.
You can get started for about $2.75 per month.
Bluehost is one of the oldest companies that hosts websites. It was founded in 1996, before Google. They are also the most well-known WordPress hosting company because they host millions of websites.
At WPBeginner, we believe in being open and honest. If you use our referral link to sign up for Bluehost, we’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you (in fact, you will save money and get a free domain). We would get this commission if we recommended just about any WordPress hosting company, but we only recommend products that we use ourselves and think will be helpful to our readers.
Let’s buy your domain, hosting, and SSL right now.
Use this link to open Bluehost in a new window and keep reading.
To get started, you need to click on the green button that says “Get Started Now.”
Choose the plan you want on the next screen (Basic and Plus are the most popular).
After that, you’ll be asked to type in the name of your website’s domain.
Adding your account information and finalising the package information will finish the process. On this screen, you’ll see extras that you can buy if you want to.
It’s up to you if you want to buy these or not, but we usually don’t recommend doing so. If you decide you need them later, you can always add them.
When you’re done, you’ll get an email with instructions on how to access your web hosting control panel (cPanel). This is where you take care of everything, like emails and support.
Once you’re in the cPanel, you’ll see that Bluehost has already set up WordPress for you. To log in to WordPress, just click the “Log in to WordPress” button.
Just click on the “Login to WordPress” button, and it will take you to the dashboard of your WordPress site. It kind of looks like this:
You did a great job setting up the hosting and domain part.
Set up WordPress and your online store as the next step.
Step 2: Putting WordPress together
When you log in to your WordPress site for the first time, Bluehost may offer to help you set up your site.
Go ahead and click on the link that says “I don’t need help.” Don’t worry, we’ll show you all the steps you need to take.
Let’s get your WordPress site up and running.
First, go to the Settings » General page to set up the title and description of your WordPress site.
You can use the name of your store as the site’s title and give an interesting description of your business. You don’t have to give a description, so don’t worry if you can’t think of anything right away.
Getting HTTPS to work with SSL
A free SSL Certificate came with your WordPress hosting package. This certificate for your domain name is already set up. But your WordPress site needs to be set up so that it loads with https instead of http.
You need to change your WordPress Address and Site Address to use https instead of http on the Settings » General page.
Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the page and click the “Save Changes” button to keep your settings.
Your WordPress basic setup is done. Your online store needs to be set up now.
Step 3. Setting up your WooCommerce store is the third step.
WooCommerce is the best tool for making an online store. It is built on top of WordPress, which lets you sell any kind of products you want.
First, you need to get the WooCommerce plugin set up and running. See our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin for more information.
Just click Plugins » Add New and look for WooCommerce. Click the Install Now button next to WooCommerce in the list of search results.
Now, WordPress will get the WooCommerce plugin and set it up for you. Wait for the plugin to finish downloading, then click the “Activate” button to move on.
When you turn on WooCommerce, the setup wizard will start, and you’ll see the “Welcome to WooCommerce” screen. This setup wizard will walk you through the most important WooCommerce settings.
First, you have to give your online store some basic information, such as its address, country, and region. If you are a store owner, you can put the address of your store as the address.
After that, click the Continue button to move on to the next step.
Next, you’ll be asked to pick an industry for your store. You can pick an industry that is most similar to the kind of store you want to make.
To move on, click the “Continue” button.
After that, you’ll be asked to decide what kinds of items you want to sell on your store. For example, you can choose physical products if your products need to be shipped.
You can also choose more than one type of product. You can, for example, choose between Physical Products and Downloads. Don’t worry if you sell different kinds of products. For each product you add, you can choose what kind of product it is.
Click the button that says “Continue.”
Next, you’ll be asked to give some information about your business, such as how many products you plan to sell and whether you also plan to sell them somewhere else. You can pick “I don’t have any products yet” and “No” for the other choice.
Now, you need to go to the “Free Features” tab. You’ll see that the box to install free features for your website is already checked.
You need to uncheck this option because it will install several other WooCommerce extensions that you may not need. You can always put them in yourself if you need them later.
For the next step, click the Continue button.
The next step is to pick a theme for your online store. You can keep using the default theme you have now, choose Storefront, or use one of the other free themes on the page.
Don’t stress out about picking the right theme right away. In the rest of this article, we’ll show you how to choose the best theme for your online store.
That’s it! You have now set up WooCommerce in a basic way.
Step 4: Make sure your online store can accept payments.
Next, you need to set up ways to pay so that people can buy things from your store online. WooCommerce gives you a number of easy-to-set-up payment gateways.
You just need to go to WooCommerce » Settings and click on the “Payments” tab. You can choose between PayPal Standard, Cash on Delivery, Checks, and Bank Transfers by default.
You can also install Stripe, PayPal Checkout, and WooCommerce Payments if you scroll down. We suggest that you choose Stripe or PayPal Standard as your payment methods.
You can set up each payment gateway by clicking on the Set up button and entering the necessary information. For example, you can turn on Stripe and put in your API keys (you can find this information under your Stripe account).
Make sure you click “Save changes” to keep your payment settings.
Step 5: Put items in your online store
First, let’s add the first item to your online store.
To add a new product, go to the Products » Add New page.
First, give your product a title, and then describe it in detail.
On the right column, there is a box called “Product Categories.” Click “+Add New Product Category” to make a new category for this item. This makes it easy for you and your customers to sort products and look through them.
If you scroll down a bit, you’ll see a box called “Product Data.” This is where you’ll put information about your products, like prices, stock, shipping, etc.
Below the box for product data, you’ll see a box where you can add a short description of the product. When a user looks at more than one product on a page, these product descriptions will be used.
Lastly, you can add a main product image and a product gallery in the boxes on the right side of your page.
Once you’re happy with all the information you’ve added about a product, you can click the “Publish” button to make it live on your website.
Repeat the process as many times as you need to add more products.
Step 6: Choose and make changes Theme for WordPress
The themes you use decide how your WordPress sites look to people who visit them. They also decide how your products are shown in a WooCommerce shop.
There are thousands of paid and free WordPress themes you can use to make a beautiful website.
But not all WordPress themes are built with eCommerce stores in mind. We chose some of the best WooCommerce themes by hand for you to choose from.
If you need help choosing a theme, check out our guide on the 9 things you should think about when choosing the right WordPress theme.
Once you have a WooCommerce theme installed, you can change how it looks to fit your needs.
Just go to the page called “Appearance » Customize.” This will bring up the theme customizer, where you can change the settings for your theme.
Most modern WooCommerce themes can be changed in different ways and work well on both desktop and mobile devices.
Step 7: Add plugins to your online store to make it bigger.
Now that your store is almost done, you might want to add more features to make it a successful online store. For example, to make your first sale, you could add a form for customer support or promote your new business on social media.
Plug-ins can help with this.
Both WooCommerce and WordPress have plugins and extensions that make it easy to add new features to your site.
Plugins for your WordPress site are like apps. You can use thousands of them, both for free and for a fee. There are more than 59,000 plugins just in the plugin directory on WordPress.org.
But because there are so many options, it can be hard for new users to choose the right plugins. How do you decide which one to use?
Here are a few of the most important plugins that we think every online store should have.
OptinMonster makes it easy to turn visitors to your website into paying customers. It comes with tools like countdown timers, spin to win, lightbox popups, sticky header and footer banners, and more.
All of them help increase conversions, increase sales, grow your email list, and decrease the number of people who abandon their shopping carts.
Note: If you sign up from the OptinMonster WordPress plugin, you can get OptinMonster for free.
WPForms is the best plug-in for WordPress that lets you build forms. It makes it easy to make any kind of form for your store, like a contact form, a survey, a login form, an order form for gift cards, and more.
It has an easy-to-use drag-and-drop form builder that lets you make forms with just a few clicks. See our guide for more information on how to easily set up a contact form in WordPress.
Note: If you don’t need the Pro features, you can use the free version of WPForms called WPForms Lite.
You can easily add an affiliate programme to your online store with the help of AffiliateWP. This lets you work with affiliate marketers who will promote your products in exchange for a cut.
It has powerful affiliate tracking, no transaction fees, fraud detection, one-click payouts, and an affiliate dashboard for your partners. See our guide on how to set up a referral programme for your online store for more information.
4. Advanced Coupons
Advanced Coupons is the best add-on for WooCommerce that lets you add coupon codes. It lets you add to the default WooCommerce coupon functionality and make coupons that will help your business grow.
You can make a loyalty programme, scheduled coupons, Buy 1 Get 1 Free deals, shipping coupons, and more with Advanced Coupons. Check out our guide on how to make smart coupons for your eCommerce store for more information.
SeedProd is the best plugin for WordPress and WooCommerce that lets you build pages. It makes it easy to make landing pages for your online store that are unique to you.
It comes with templates that are ready to be used and are made for conversions and sales. It also has WooCommerce blocks that you can drag and drop to make custom product pages, a custom homepage, a checkout page, a thank you page, and more. Plus, you can link it to your email marketing service to grow your email list.
Note: The free version of SeedProd can be tried out right on WordPress.org.
PushEngage is the best software for WordPress and WooCommerce that lets you send push notifications. It makes it easy to send web push notifications to the computers and phones of people who visit your website.
With PushEngage, you can send personalised messages to your target audience, such as news about new products, reminders about carts that have been left empty, alerts when a product is back in stock, welcome messages, and more.
7. All in One SEO for WordPress
The best SEO plug-in for WooCommerce is All in One SEO for WordPress. It makes it easy to optimise your online store for SEO, even if you don’t know anything about SEO.
It has full support for eCommerce, schema markup, sitemaps, breadcrumbs, and much more. This will help get more people to visit your online store. Check out our full WooCommerce SEO guide for beginners for more information.
Note: that AIOSEO also has a free version that is still pretty powerful for people who are just getting started.
MonsterInsights is the best add-on for WordPress that works with Google Analytics. It lets you know where your customers are coming from and what they do on your website.
MonsterInsights comes with WooCommerce tracking, so you can see information about your website’s conversions and sales. This helps you make data-driven changes to your marketing plan and grow your small business.
The best CRM plugin for WordPress and WooCommerce is HubSpot. It lets you sync your forms automatically, manage your contacts, sort them into lists, and see everything that your site visitors do on your site. It also comes with a free email marketing tool.
You can also add live chat to your website pages and get data about how well your whole marketing programme is doing.
See our list of the most important WooCommerce plugins for an eCommerce business for more plugin suggestions.
Learning WordPress to Grow Your Online Business
WordPress is very powerful and flexible, but it can be hard for people who are just starting out to set it up the way they want.
At WPBeginner, our main goal is to give WordPress site owners helpful tutorials that are up-to-date and easy to understand, even if they are not tech-savvy (see more about us).
1. WPBeginner is the best free site for beginners to learn about WordPress. We have a lot of resources, such as:
2. WPBeginner Blog is where all of our WordPress tutorials can be found in one place.
3. WPBeginner Videos – Just started using WordPress? Learn how to use WordPress by watching these 23 videos.
4. WPBeginner Dictionary is your one-stop shop for learning how to talk and write about WordPress.
5. WPBeginner Join a Facebook group – In the largest WordPress group on Facebook, you can get free help from experts.
You can also subscribe to WPBeginner’s YouTube Channel, where we regularly post video tutorials to help you learn WordPress.
We also have a guide that shows users how to get the most out of WPBeginner’s free resources.
Many of our users type their question into Google and add wpbeginner to the end. This shows them other articles on WPBeginner that are related.
FAQs About Starting an Online Store
Many of our users ask us questions all the time about how to start their own online store business. Below, we’ve tried to answer some of the most common questions:
1. Where do I find products to sell on my store?
There are many ways for store owners to get their goods. Some sell things that can be downloaded, such as software, digital art, music, and other things.
Others get their goods from local or international sellers through online markets like Alibaba or AliExpress. If you don’t want to take care of your own inventory or shipping, you could also start a print-on-demand shop or do dropshipping.
See our article on how to choose items to sell online for more information.
2. Can I start an online store for free?
Some eCommerce platforms let you try them out for free for a certain amount of time, but then you have to pay. Even though WooCommerce is free, you will need to pay for a domain name and a web hosting account in order to use it.
3. How much does it cost to start an online store?
It depends on your budget and business plan. You can get started with Bluehost for $2.75 per month and keep costs low by using free plugins and themes. We suggest a business model in which you start small and then spend money as your business grows.
See our article on how much does it cost to build an eCommerce site for a more in-depth look at the costs.
4. Can I create an online store without shipping products?
Yes, you can. For example, you can use dropshipping plugins to make an online store, make an Amazon affiliate store, or make a marketplace like eBay. You can sell both your own and other people’s products on the same online store.
5. How to manage shipping costs and taxes for my online store?
Depending on where you live, you may have to add sales tax, VAT, or another type of tax. You can add taxes to WooCommerce if you turn them on in the WooCommerce » Settings page.
From here, you can also switch to the Shipping tab and make different shipping zones, add shipping rates, set flat shipping rates, and more.
We hope this guide taught you how to set up an online store. You might also want to check out these actionable tips for getting people to visit your new WordPress site or our comparison of the best live chat software and best business phone services for small businesses.