WooCommerce and WordPress, a quick way to start e-commerce

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Entrepreneurs planning to start selling in the digital channel can choose from SaaS platforms such as Shopify or BigCommerce, but then they do not have full control over the appearance or functioning of the e-commerce store. For those who do not like such restrictions, however, WooCommerce comes to the rescue. This open-source plugin allows you to integrate a fully functioning online store directly into your existing WordPress site in just a few moments. Plus it’s free.

WooCommerce + WordPress

WooCommerce, an e-commerce plugin developed by Automattic, also behind WordPress, improved its payment functionality a few weeks ago with a native solution called WooCommerce Payments. Previously, WooCommerce users could integrate their store with payment gateways such as Stripe, Amazon Pay, Square, or PayPal. Adding native payments, however, will make it even easier for e-shop owners to enter e-commerce.

For now, the new feature is available for US customers, but it’s only a matter of time before it has wide access WooCommerce’s expansion has accelerated a lot recently due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to TechCrunch, the number of active WooCommerce sites increased by 34% in just two months and the number of buyers – by 70%.

Choosing the right e-commerce platform is a crucial decision for every seller. Wondering what to pay attention to? We compare SaaS and open-source platforms on many levels here.

What is WordPress?

Before we start talking about WooCommerce, however, a few words should go to his older brother. What is WordPress and why is it necessary to set up a store using WooCommerce?

WordPress.org is a free and open-source CMS that was created with blogs in mind.

Today, however, it is the backbone of over 35% of the sites on the global web according to W3Techs. How did it manage to gain such a huge market share? WordPress owes its success primarily to its versatility. It can be deployed anywhere, from small personal blogs to major brand websites.

The main advantages of WordPress are an extensive system of templates and a varied architecture of available plugins. Templates allow developers to build on a predefined structure rather than reinventing the wheel, but plugins allow you to enrich and personalize it with unique functionality.

Examples of websites built based on WordPress:
  • TechCrunch
  • Sony Music
  • BBC America
  • MTV News
  • The New York Times
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WordPress developers assumed that their software should work with minimal effort on the part of users, be intuitive and easy to use. Developers, instead of dealing with the configuration of typical functionalities, were supposed to deal with the development and enrichment of the software.

WordPress architecture primarily uses PHP on the server-side and MySQL, a relational database management system. Other technologies include Apache, Nginx, and cache Varnish.

A major milestone for Worpress was the introduction, three years ago, of an editor called Gutenberg. Thanks to the so-called blocks, novice users can insert multimedia content on their sites with very little technical knowledge, style and enrich them so that they are engaging for the recipient.

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce, another child of the WordPress team, was almost doomed to success. And did not disappoint the hopes being put on. Currently, 28% of all e-commerce websites use it. What is WooCommerce, how does it work and what does it offer users?

WooCommerce is a plugin, i.e. a small part of the code that – added codes for a site built on WordPress – provides all the functionalities necessary to conduct sales.

The idea behind WooCommerce was similar to the one that gave birth to WordPress. The add-on was supposed to be easy to use and configure, but also to provide e-shop owners with full control over every aspect of the website, from the UI layer to unique functions, such as calculating specific rates for shipping costs and to specific countries. Thanks to its customization capabilities, WooCommerce can develop with the growth of a given company.

Why Choose WooCommerce?

Here are the key benefits of WooCommerce:
  • Open Source – Woocommerce is an Open Source plugin, thanks to which e-shop owners have full control over the development of their website.
  • Flexibility – A huge selection of extensions almost fully covers even the most non-standard needs. What’s more, if a given solution is not available on the market, you can easily find a programmer who will create it.
  • Easy to setup – Configuration of the plug should not be difficult even for people with little technical competence, and – see point above – if any difficulties arise, you can easily find a specialist who will help overcome them.
  • UX – The WooCommerce interface, like WordPress, is dedicated to laymen, which means that you do not need to have the technological knowledge to effectively manage their website.
  • SEO friendly – Of course, SEO optimization is not limited to choosing the right engine, but the WordPress + WooCommerce duo makes a lot easier by providing plugins to support SEO activities.
  • Community – WordPress has gathered a huge community of developers around it, which WooCommerce is now using. With the help of the community, it is much easier to solve any problems.

How to configure Woocommerce and WP?

To create an e-commerce website with the help of WooCommerce, you must first build a base, i.e. a website based on the WordPress content management system. To do this, just download the installation package from WordPress.org and install it on the server, following the instructions.

After creating the site, log in to the administration panel and in the “Plugins” tab, search for WooCommerce, install it, and click “Activate”. WooCommerce includes a setup wizard that allows you to quickly and easily configure key aspects of your storefront, even if you are completely unfamiliar with coding. However, the manual configuration option is also available. In the first stage of configuration, you need to select the country of sale, currency, and type of products sold.

Thanks to WooCommerce, you can sell either virtual products (e.g. access to video or music files) or physical products. To add products, click “Add a product” and … add product photos, descriptions, and prices. WooCommerce allows you to describe products with various parameters such as quantity, color, and style. However, if this is not enough, you can further customize our store by reaching for extensions and additional plugins from third-party developers.

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