How to Build an Online Store in Less Than an Hour
During the last few weeks I put together a series of videos on Magento and while I really like the software because it's great for those that are looking for a shopping cart solution that focuses purely on ecommerce, I believe that the software is a bit difficult to work with if you're not very technical or have very limited time on your hands.
Many people actually refer to me as a computer geek and there were times when I just couldn't take learning anymore about Magento because things can get a bit complicated.
So for those of you that would prefer something a little easier, I have put together this tutorial right here which shows you how to build an online store in less than an hour!
Of course when you hear these kind of things, you may ask yourself whether this type of solution will be worth the time that you save... Well, I've got good news for you because the answer is, yes!
As some of you may already know, Magento is actually one of the most popular solutions on the web today, but creeping up behind them is WooCommerce and as time progresses, I believe that there is a good chance that WooCommerce may actually surpass Magento as far as popularity goes and there are many good reasons behind this which I believe is mainly due to:
- How easy it is to use and install.
- It's free.
- It runs on WordPress which is the most popular CMS on the web today.
- It offers a ton of add-ons, looks good and is capable of doing a lot of what Magento is capable of doing.
In the past I actually touched on WooCommerce a bit here and also wrote about why WordPress is so great for ecommerce but never really showed my readers and Youtube viewers how to build this type of store. Which is why I felt that it's time to do just that.
While I could have chosen any other plugin from the long list that I've just showed you, I've decided to put together this tutorial because WooCommerce over the last few years has been getting more and more popular.
For those of you that have already watched the video and are looking for some of the information that I've discussed in the video, here are some shortcuts to that information:
- Additional themes
- List of webhosts which offer 1-click WordPress installations
- List of country and state codes for configuring taxes
- Additional shipping extensions
- Additional payment extensions
- Paypal fix
- Some extensions that I recommend to make your store successful (I didn't mention this in the video, but it's definitely worth mentioning now)
For the rest of you, check out the video below to see how I built a fully functional store in less than 1 hour:
Can't view the video? Watch it on YouTube
As mentioned in the video, my demo store looked a bit bland -- I would use something that looks a little nicer in a production store, but when I created the video, I didn't think about changing the theme. Another thing I didn't like about the theme, was the fact that it wasn't specifically designed for WooCommerce -- it was actually designed for basic WordPress usage.
In this list of WooCommerce themes I actually have some nice free themes as well as premium ones that I found while scouring the web. Had I known about all the nice free themes that are out there, I would have actually used one of those in my video instead of the one that I used.
In the video I talk about buying a domain as well as an SSL certificate. Note that both of those things can be found on any of the sites listed about. Some web hosts even offer free SSL certificates with some of their package, but be careful not to get a shared SSL because those don't work with WooCommerce.
Here is a list of country and state codes for WooCommerce. I actually created this list using WooCommerce data so it's accurate, but what I find interesting is the fact that some countries use state codes which are longer than 2 digits. I find this weird because the help popup in the tax configuration section suggests that you should use a 2 digit code...
- Table rate shipping (free)
- Per product shipping (free)
- Weight based shipping by country (free)
- FexEx shipping (paid)
- UPS shipping (paid)
- USPS shipping (paid)
There are many payment extensions available for WooCommerce. In fact there are paid ones as you can see on the developer's site, as well as on CodeCanyon, but few people know that there are many, many free ones available on the WordPress site. Here are a few of those free ones which are highly sought after:
As for the paid ones, I think these are worth looking at:
If you get the error "The seller accepts encrypted website payments only. You cannot pay the seller through un-encrypted buttons. Please contact your seller for more details." when trying to checkout, you can fix this, by doing the following:
- Log in to your PayPal account.
- Click 'Profile'.
- From the Selling Preferences column, click 'Website Payment Preferences'.
- In the Encrypted Website Payments section, select Off.
- Click 'Save'.
In addition to this, there is a way to setup IPN which stands for "instant payment notification". What does this do? Well when someone buys something for your store, Paypal notifies your site when a successful payment goes through. To set this up, do the following:
- Log in to your PayPal account
- Click 'Profile' near the top of the page.
- Select 'My selling tools' in left menu.
- Under 'Getting paid and managing my risk' and in the 'Instant payment notifications' section, click 'Update'.
- Check the checkbox and enter the URL to which you would like to receive HTML posts.
- Click 'Save'.
Note that WooCommerce help docs state that the IPN URL is actually sent over to PayPal automatically but if that doesn't work, you can enter in the IPN URL as follows:
http://example.com/?wc-api=WC_Gateway_Paypal (Replace example.com with your domain)
What good is a store if you can't generate any sales from it, right? Well, this is why I've decided to add a few extensions here that can help you attract potential customers. Here are some good ones:
Google Product Feed (paid)
The above extension helps you create a product feed for Google Shopping which is a PPC shopping comparison site. The great thing about this type of feed is that it's compatible with other shopping comparison sites like TheFind which is free (other free ones can be found here). In addition to that, the feed is compatible with some other paid comparison sites as well.
Once you attract customers to your site, you are going to want them to share your items with their friends, but for this to happen, you're going to need some social buttons added to your site.
If you'd like to only show Facebook buttons, there is a free plugin available here. Now if you'd like to have your items shared on other sites such as Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and other popular social platforms, there is a paid plugin available here.
Once you've create your store, I highly recommend taking advantage of the cross sell features which I've gone over in the video because this can drastically increase the the average size of your orders.
I know that I cross promote in all of my stores and many of my customers purchase more than one item. I do, however, highly recommend picking out the items yourself and staying away from extensions that auto-generate your cross sells and up-sells because they do not always pick out the right items.
In addition to that, you may want to take advantage of the coupon codes that you can generate in your admin panel because those coupons can be added on popular coupon sites such as retailmenot.com and fatwallet.com which are just two other great ways to attract customers and keep your visitors engaged.