You’ve built a brand on social media. Or, maybe, you’ve cultivated an amazing brick-and-mortar business with just a quick-hit landing page Now, though, you’re ready for what comes next — the leap into eCommerce. For that, you need a site that’s responsive, easy-to-navigate, and user-friendly.
That can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
Before you let your nerves get the best of you, read on. Because building an eCommerce site with WordPress — or transitioning your existing site for purchases and payments — is completely doable.
Whether you opt to build your own site with WordPress.org — and tap into targeted plugins like WooCommerce — or choose a more guided WordPress.com eCommerce approach, including shopper-friendly themes, intuitive build features, clear-cut instructions, and 24/7 expert support, you’ll be able to build and launch an incredible digital storefront that keeps shoppers coming back for more.
Choosing the right eCommerce website builder
The first step: choosing the right eCommerce website builder.
“If you have an existing WordPress site, getting started with eCommerce is as simple as installing and activating a plugin,” says Brent Shepherd, WooCommerce Payments Lead at Automattic. “If you have traffic and an audience already with your WordPress site, that’s half the battle in creating a successful eCommerce site. The software is the easy part.”
Easy even for beginners and non-designers, says Gary Stout, Founder and Managing Partner of Buzzworthy Studio in Brooklyn, New York,
“As a free, open source project, the user base isn’t limited, and WordPress developers have done a bang-up job in making sure that learning how to use the platform is possible for even the less-tech-savvy,” he says. “For a sophisticated website platform, it’s incredibly easy to use.”
Beyond ease, though, both WordPress.org and WordPress.com offer a host of easy-to-integrate eCommerce options, your business can be online and accepting payments without lengthy lead and development times — and you can customize your eCommerce site to synch with your brand’s wants, needs, goals, and desired customer experience.
Customizing your site — and your customer experience
To start building or customizing your eCommerce site, focus first on your customer — specifically, what customers will think, feel, and experience when they land on your site.
“Think about how you’ll reach your first customer,” Brent says. “Then your 10th and your 100th. If you can answer those questions, you’ve got a path to build a business.”
Reaching those customers, he explains, starts with design — creative capabilities that WooCommerce certainly offers. And if you’re using WordPress.com? You’ll have access to a full range of eCommerce options, including one-click payment buttons to the Store option which automatically initiates the storefront setup process. All of this makes accepting payments a straightforward process, even for first-timers.
Here’s how to start customizing your WordPress eCommerce theme to maximize engagement and conversions.
Keep your eCommerce site clean (and colorful)
Sixty-six percent of consumers consider the design of a website important. To ensure your eCommerce site falls in the “beautifully designed” bucket, focus on customizing your WordPress theme so it’s as clean and welcoming as your actual store or well-curated Instagram feed.
When customers land on your site, make sure your core value proposition is immediately apparent — and draws that customer into your website.To do this:
- Use high-quality images — while many landing pages use lo-res, low-quality stock images, you can (and should) avoid them at all costs. High-quality images immediately create the perception of a high-quality site and high-quality brand.
- Choose dynamic colors that draw the eye in — adjusting colors can increase site conversions by up to 24 percent. Something as simple as a button color can impact clicks. Red payment buttons, for example, have been shown to increase conversion rates by as much as 34 percent.
- Make your content scannable so, even if that customer doesn’t read every word — which most don’t — they’ll still understand who or what you are and why that matters to them.
All of this is doable with WordPress.com and its premium business features, services, and support — same goes for WordPress.org and targeted eCommerce capabilities available to users. Even without being an experienced web designer and developer, it’s easy to tap into templates, themes, and other features to create and optimize your eCommerce site.
Beyond that, though, test, refine, and test some more.
“Experiment with designs and listen to your customers,” says Brent. “I’ve seen sites succeed with a design I would never expect to garner success. It turns out, different customers like different designs. But WordPress makes it easy to experiment with designs by switching themes or running A/B tests on checkout so you’ll always know.”
Do more with powerful plugins and features
When customers land on your site, you want to give them ample opportunities to purchase your products with as little friction as possible. With customizable purchasing plugins and features, that’s possible even for beginners.
Using the WordPress WooCommerce plugin, you can incorporate advanced product labels so customers can sort products by a number of variables. This plugin also enables you to designate featured products, customize colors, incorporate testimonials, and display ratings. Together, this enables you to create a fully customized product display that makes it easy for visitors to not just find what they’re looking for but actually click to buy. That’s a win/win — customers get the product they want fast and frictionless, and you generate another well-deserved sale.
“Ecommerce design is all about eliminating barriers to purchase,” says Chris Claflin, Founder, Owner and Operator of Complete Web Launch. “A lot of your traffic will come through an app — Instagram, for example — so, like those apps, your site design should be minimal and checkout options should be clear.”
Incorporating calls-to-action on every page is key to a successful store. That’s why WordPress.com offers powerful features as part of the Payments block, which integrates with a Stripe account for processing. WordPress.com Payments is a standard feature for Personal, Premium, and Business plans.
“The Payments block provides features targeted to users that are considering starting to accept money on the web,” explains Artur Piszek, a Cognitive Engineer at WordPress.com. “You can start getting paid or launch a subscription literally in minutes.” By simplifying the purchasing process, he adds, these features enable you to attract more customers and increase sales.
“If you already have a WordPress.com or Jetpack site, you can use these features right away, without registering to a new service, managing different services, using custom code, or copying API keys,” he says. “Just choose a button and it works.”
Edit your site with ease — and blocks
As you build, finalize, and ultimately grow and expand your site, you’ll likely want to make changes, adjust the content, and refresh the look and feel of your eCommerce site. With the WordPress.com block editor, you’ll be able to keep pace without learning to design or code.
The block editor is a powerful tool that makes it easy to incorporate media-rich pages and posts.
“Think of your page and post as being composed of different pieces that we call ‘blocks,’” says Kathryn Presner, Automattic Happiness Engineer. “And these blocks can move around much more easily than in the past to rearrange things on your page. You can just click a little arrow and move up this block or push that block up or drag it down. This used to be really cumbersome to create — now, with the block editor, it’s very, very simple.”
Using the block editor, you can quickly and easily build content, making edit and layout more efficient. The block editor — also known as the Gutenberg editor — enables you to insert and change any content, from cover images to video and more. Edits — including dynamic media layouts — will always work across all screen sizes and devices.
“Block editor makes it easier to present products the way you and your customers expect to find them,” Brent explains. “You’re not locked into a theme or template a designer created anymore. The block editor gives you control over how and where you display your product catalog to your customers.”
Together, your theme paired with potential plugins or tools like block editor will enable you to fully customize your eCommerce website. With a dynamic, on-brand, customer-friendly site, you’ll accelerate your business growth, reaching more audiences in more places on more platforms — all while creating an additional engagement point for your loyal fan base. It’s a win/win — an opportunity for customers to get even more out of their brand relationship while helping you increase your awareness and market share.
Want to get started? Visit WordPress.com to browse themes and begin choosing the best options for your online business.
Install plugins like WooCommerce when you choose the WordPress.com Busines plan or get the plugin pre-installed with an eCommerce Plan. No matter which you choose, with dozens of tools and features — and one of the most powerful open source editing tools — you’ll be ready to make the move to selling online with an eCommerce website.
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