The Beginners Guide to WooCommerce

June 21, 2015 . by Aaron B #WooCommerce

Introduction to WooCommerce

Now powering approximately 24% of all online stores, WooCommerce has fast become a global leader of e-commerce platforms and solutions, having recently surpassed a record 7 million downloads, and currently featuring on over 1 million websites worldwide. The fact that it’s free just adds to its unrivalled and unquestioned value – it really is the gift that keeps on giving – an essential solution for any site wanting a sophisticated and user-friendly purchasing tool, and let’s face it, who doesn’t?

WooCommerce Plugin

With an overall WordPress user rating of 4.4, WooCommerce has amassed an army of vocal supporters, who sing its praises, express regret at having not found it sooner and promise to never again return to clunky and dull alternatives. The vibrant and active WooCommerce community is constantly developing and sharing new themes and plugins, making it one of the most exciting and progressive platforms around – a platform for people, not just products. Simply put, if you’re selling online, WooCommerce is for you.

Adding and Managing New Products

One of WooCommerce’s big advantages, among many, is the unparalleled ease with which you can manage, organise, add and take away products. Updating your site with your latest offerings, or removing products you’ve sold out of, just couldn’t be any easier.

WooCommerce manage products screen

There are two key menu bars here: the WooCommerce tab, and the products tab, which lead to the general settings and product settings areas respectively. To add a new product, at the most basic level all you need is product title and description. You’ll want to expand on this, though, and all you need to do here is use the post editor and use the ‘product data’ and ‘short description’ widgets to fill in the relevant information. More detail on these below.

Product Data

Of course, you’ll want give people as much information about your product as possible – a great e-commerce platform answers customer questions before they have them. The product data widget allows you to provide more details about your product, for example price, SKU number and whether it is a physical or virtual product. WooCommerce is a highly intuitive solution and so, if you indicate that your product is virtual, it will remove the shipping details tab, ensuring a clean and tidy aesthetic with all the relevant information and no redundant or empty data fields.

WooCommerce product data

Though WooCommerce is exceptionally user friendly, it doesn’t focus solely on the buyer as the primary ‘user’, it also makes life easier for you, the seller. The inventory tab, for instance, allows you to manage stock levels to ensure customers don’t buy a product that is out of stock. You can configure the site to update when you sell out of a particular product, meaning the customer is never sold something you can’t deliver, and you always know when you need to re-stock.

There are numerous other features you can utilise to help sell all manner of products, including displaying product reviews, extended descriptions, different buying options, links to related or complementary products – in this way WooCommerce is your most valued sales assistant, if never misses an opportunity to upsell!

Short Product Description

As well as the name of your product, you’ll want a short snappy tagline, displayed under the product title – something to sell your product and tell the customer exactly what it is, and what it does. You can also add an image (or a whole gallery!), tags and a product category.

Managing WooCommerce

Managing WooCommerce couldn’t be simpler; its easy to navigate user interface allows you to view reports, settings and extensions, sales and promotions, all in one place, so you’ll know what’s going on, what’s coming up and how your shop is performing at all times, without having to go hunting through indecipherable code and maze-like menu tabs.

 Orders

This does what it says on the tin – you can view all current, old or outstanding purchases and orders. This page will tell you who’s bought what, when, and how many times. This page is obviously also very helpful in organising and informing your shipping and payment processes, helping you process your orders as fast and efficiently as possible.

WooCommerce manage orders

Coupons

Everyone loves a promotion or a discount code! WooCommerce allows you to add customisable coupons to your online store, as well as manage any associated restrictions, limits and expiry dates, so that you can attract those savvy shoppers and bargain hunters who know that when shopping online, discounts can always be found – make their hunt easier and add a coupon for your store with a few clicks of a button in the coupon management screen, so they can stop searching and start shopping!

coupon

WooCommerce adding coupons

Reports

For the entrepreneurial bottom-line obsessesive, this will probably be your favourite and most-visited page, offering a powerful and comprehensive tracking tool, presenting your sales, costs, orders and stock levels in whatever visual media you prefer – graphs, tables, charts – so you’re left in no doubt as to how your store is performing, both at present and over time. You can configure your reports to show you the performance of a particular product, the effects of a special promotion, to determine the most popular product category, or find out who your best customers are. You can even export the data in a CSV sheet to inform your annual accounts and future sales projections.

report

WooCommerce reports

Settings

Like its WordPress parent, WooCommerce really comes into its own with its vast array of settings that allow near enough total customisation of all elements. This is why there are over a million WooCommerce sites yet none of them look or operate alike – well, why would they? With well over 300 free and paid for extensions, you can really get creative here. No niggles of annoyance because WooCommerce let’s you take control of everything, so if you don’t fancy shipping to the North Pole, need all your customer support emails to have a leopard print background, and want motivational music playing right the way through to checkout completion, there’s a tab for it! (Okay, maybe not that last one…)

settings

WooCommerce settings screen

System Status

Of course, in amongst all the customisation and front end excitement, WooCommerce makes sure to ‘take care of business’ as such, and has all the technical stuff wrapped up in one easy to view back end management page. Here you can check what versions you’re running, reset, clear your cache – all the essential admin and housekeeping without which none of the fun stuff could run smoothly.

status

WooCommerce system status screen

To Sum Up

No doubt about it, WooCommerce is where it’s at – it covers all the bases: technically superior, statistically unrivalled, a joy to use, 100% customisable and with upwards of a million users and a thriving global community to back it up, what’s to doubt?