In 2017, eCommerce sales worldwide reached $2.3 trillion USD and that number is expected to more than double by 2021. Customers are favouring shopping online, often choosing to order products or book services online rather than shop in-store. It is therefore crucial to have an online presence, and to make products available to customers online. That’s where WordPress and the WooCommerce payment gateway come in to provide a solution to merchants expanding to the web.
WooCommerce is a powerful eCommerce toolkit. It is open source and built on WordPress, making it completely customizable. It’s the ideal tool for online merchants which works with payment processors to complete the full online shopping solution.
Included, and Extras
The WooCommerce plugin enables merchants to establish and run a professional online store with WordPress. Both WordPress and WooCommerce are open source and available free of charge, meaning you can get started with your web store right away. Some things to consider that are above and beyond the free offering are:
Hosting and Domain Services - Relevant to new online merchants and web stores, hosting and a domain (such as .com, .net, .co.uk, etc.) are not included for free with WordPress. These services are available through various providers for a monthly or annual fee.
The costs for hosting can vary, as can their offering. WordPress and WooCommerce both recommend hosts such as SiteGround, BlueHost, and Pressable to establish an eCommerce presence using the WooCommerce WordPress plugin. Important factors to consider are things such as strong uptime, SSL encryption, and security.
BlueHost offers a package with hosting a WooCommerce WordPress site for one monthly fee.
Themes - Themes are ready-to-use layouts and designs which can be applied to a WordPress site. The administration remains the same, while themes transform the customer’s experience by personalizing the design layout details.
Many themes with WooCommerce are free, though it is recommended to use a developer to make personal adaptations and customization to the theme. There are many places to browse thousands of available themes and for a fee - on average $39-$59 per year - merchants can give their users a smooth, beautiful experience while shopping while making customisation easier for less experienced developers.
Many new eCommerce businesses start out with WooCommerce’s official theme: Storefront. Storefront is a well-developed, well-supported theme that is flexible and intuitive.
Free themes are available, and it is important to remember to use only those compatible with the latest version of WooCommerce, and to look for one that is well maintained.
Extensions - Extensions (more detailed information and popular extensions below) work like plugins for WooCommerce, which allow merchants to add more functionality to their site, such as checkout functions, payment gateways, shipping, communications, and more.
WooCommerce has compiled a list of ten free extensions, including Google Analytics (for tracking website interactions), MailChimp (for email marketing and customer communications), and Facebook (for marketing and ad content). A full list of free extensions for the WooCommerce platform is available here.
Extensions are available to enhance the customer experience and functionality, or to enable administration and security options. This is just a very short list of some of the extensions available to supplement the WooCommerce platform, and create a seamless transaction experience for merchants and their customers:
Communications - MailChimp offers functionality such as follow up communications after purchases, newsletters, promotions, and coupons. It also integrates into social media platforms and tracks all activity within the mails and actions taken such as link clicks. There are free and paid options, and it integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce.
SEO - Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps a site to be found in search results on sites such as Google or Bing, as well as Pinterest. An SEO extension such as Yoast can provide guidance to fine-tune a site for peak search engine performance.
Payment Processing -
- Global Payments - For merchants depending on eCommerce payment processing for orders in multiple currencies, extensions such as Currency Converter Widget and Multi Currency are imperative.
- Products - Many extensions are available for a variety of product-related functions, such as product sort and filtering, bundling, suggested add-ons, etc.
- Order Follow-Up - Extensions for order tracking enable customers to follow up on orders themselves, giving them a better experience and freeing up customer service agents from answering order status inquiries.
- Reporting - Reporting plugins such as WooCommerce Advanced Reporting is a comprehensive tool to help merchants manage their online store. It includes reporting on sales orders, top products, order status, stock, and more.
- Security, Monitoring, Statistics - Security in eCommerce sites is paramount. An industry leader in security and insights is Jetpack. It blocks spam and authenticates customer logins, as well as provides statistics and monitors (and provides alerts) of downtime.
Payment processing with WooCommerce
Without payment processing, an eCommerce site serves little purpose - customers need to be able to provide payment details, and merchants need to be able to receive those payments, and it all needs to be done seamlessly and securely. Whether the payment is immediate, via pre-order, made in installments, or COD, WooCommerce payment processing plugins will enable customers to complete transactions on the web.
DPO is an authorised payment processor with WooCommerce, smoothly integrating with merchant sites. The WooCommerce platform is ideal for merchants who want to establish their online presence and make their products and services available to customers. The flexibility, ease of adoption, and available customisation options make it an excellent option to create a tailored site based on the needs and preferences of the brand.