eCommerce Websites on WordPress.com: The Basics

Setting up your eCommerce shop can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. It’s exciting because you’re finally about to share your goods or services with the public, and get paid for doing something that you’re passionate about. But the process of setting up your shop can be overwhelming if you are new to all of this.  

Not only are you establishing (or expanding) your business online, but you’re also tasked with setting up a website for your business, too. And you have a fast-approaching timeline because you need your website to be up and running as quickly as possible. That’s the equivalent of getting an MBA in the span of a week. 

You’re building a website. You’re establishing your business. You’re watching your budget and trying to get it all done as soon as possible.

No wonder it’s overwhelming.

But don’t worry. This guide will help you. 

Below, we share tips on how to create a professional website for your eCommerce business using WordPress.com. By the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to professionally run your entire business online.

Ready to get started? Let’s do this!

What is eCommerce?

Short for electronic commerce, eCommerce is the practice of buying and selling your goods or services online. 

There are several types of eCommerce, including business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C), consumer-to-consumer (C2C), or consumer-to-business (C2B). As a business or an individual, you can sell a wide variety of goods, including physical and digital goods, as well as services. 

Similarly, there are several platforms to use when selling your goods and services. You can do it through a third-party platform, like Amazon or Etsy, or you can sell directly from your own website. While the benefit of selling through a third-party platform is that you’ll get more exposure for your goods or services, there are negatives, too. 

The first negative is that you will likely be competing with other similar services for the same prospective customers. 

The second negative is that you will be at the mercy of the platform that you’re using. If they change algorithms, your goods or services may not show up in the search at all.

For these reasons and more, it’s often safer to use your own platform to sell your goods or services. When you sell on your website, you control the entire experience. And, on your own website, you won’t be forced to compete with any other business.

Let’s Start With the Basics

Here are the top things you need to know when creating your eCommerce site using WordPress.com:

Choose a Web Host

Your first step is to secure a web host. A web hosting service stores your website and makes it accessible on the Internet.

There are three several types of hosting, including Shared, Dedicated, VPS, and Managed.

With shared hosting, your website shares space on a server (computer) with other sites—sometimes hundreds of other sites. The benefit of using shared hosting is that you can save money. It’s the most affordable type of website hosting. But, because you’re sharing space with many other sites, your website may load slowly.

With dedicated hosting, you lease the entire server for your website. This option is the most expensive one, but it provides higher security and better performance than shared hosting, since you aren’t sharing space or resources with any other websites. It also requires a high level of technical knowledge to manage and maintain it.

VPS hosting simulates dedicated hosting with individual resources available to each site, but those sites still share one physical server. Although this is a popular option because it is cheaper than dedicated hosting, it usually requires more technical knowledge to manage than with shared hosting.

The sweet spot is managed hosting. A managed host is a premium service that takes care of everything related to hardware and software that enables websites to run. Your website is monitored and protected by a team of experts who regularly perform tweaks to optimize your site. This type of hosting offers top-notch website performance, including lightning-fast load times. The price point of managed hosting is usually higher than shared hosting, but much more affordable than dedicated.

Which option should you choose?

In most cases, we recommend managed hosting, and WordPress.com offers incredibly fast, secure, and reliable managed hosting.

When you sign up for our WordPress.com eCommerce plan, you’ll receive best-in-class managed hosting that includes premium security, spam filtering, unlimited upgrades, and site backups. You’ll also get email and live chat support from WordPress experts whenever you need it. 

Learn more about our managed WordPress hosting service here.

Choose a Domain Name

After you’ve chosen a web host, it’s time to set up your domain name, i.e. www.YourBusinessName.com. When you use one of our premium plans, you will get a domain for free for the first year. This is yet another benefit you’ll reap from choosing WordPress.com’s managed hosting service. 

When choosing a domain name, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Choose a domain name that’s simple to remember and just as simple to spell
  • Keep your domain name short
  • Insert keywords into your domain (such as jewelry, clothes, stationery, etc.). 
  • Use a top-level domain extension

Select a WordPress Theme

The next step is to decide on a WordPress theme.

Your WordPress theme is the way that your website looks. It includes colors, fonts, and page design. Your theme also affects the way that your website functions. 

We offer WordPress themes to match every business need. Click here to look at the different WordPress.com themes available

When setting up your account on WordPress, we’ll walk you through choosing a theme. 

Choose WordPress Plugins

After choosing your theme, it’s time to supercharge it with all of the elements that will make your basic website function like a professional eCommerce shop. You’ll do that through the use of plugins, which are apps that enable additional functionality on your site.

Note: Plugin usage requires either a Business or eCommerce plan.

Here’s a look at the top WordPress plugins to use on your eCommerce site:

WooCommerce 

WooCommerce is going to do most of the heavy lifting of turning your website into a full-blown eCommerce site. With this popular plugin, you can:

  • Set up your shop in minutes with the easy-to-follow Setup Wizard
  • Customize your digital storefront and product pages
  • Calculate sales taxes automatically
  • Choose which shipping options you prefer (including UPS, USPS, FedEx, and more)
  • Decide which payments you’ll accept in your shop and then manage those payments through WooCommerce (including Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay, Klarna Payments, and more)

WooCommerce is an absolutely essential part of your eCommerce site. Your site without WooCommerce is like a car without gas. WooCommerce will power your shop and make it possible for you to sell and your customers to buy.

For an in-depth guide to setting up your website shop with the WooCommerce plugin, click here.

In addition to WooCommerce, here are two more plugins to consider installing on your eCommerce website:

  • Product Recommendations – This plugin will recommend products strategically to increase upsells and cross-sells. 
  • Product FAQs – With this plugin, you can add frequently asked questions (FAQs) to your product pages. This allows you to reduce hesitation and increase buyer confidence.

Set Up Your eCommerce Site

Your Store’s Pages

As soon as you install and activate WooCommerce, you’ll have the opportunity to configure your store’s settings with the WooCommerce Setup Wizard. Once that step is complete, it’s time to create individual pages for your eCommerce shop and enter your products into the shop.

Luckily, WooCommerce automatically creates the most common default pages for you when you first set it up, such as the Shop, Cart, Checkout, and My Account pages. You can also manually create these default pages at any time if you skipped that step in the setup process. To manually create them, just go to WooCommerce > Status > Tools and click “Create Pages” next to the Create default WooCommerce pages option. WooCommerce will also automatically include category and individual product pages, so you won’t need to set these up separately.

Note: Even though the Shop page will be created for you, you still need to tell WooCommerce to use that particular page as the Shop page. Go to WooCommerce > Settings > Products and select “Shop” in the Shop Page dropdown. 

In addition to the default pages, you should also focus on the following pages:

Home – Your home page is the online storefront of your business. Not only should it welcome your customers, but it should also provide them with a map of how to get to where they’d like to go, whether that’s products, shipping information, FAQs, customer service, or more. Look at this page as a welcoming guide. It should also contain a detailed navigation menu so that visitors can get to their destination quickly.

Your Policies Pages – Every eCommerce shop should have the following policy pages: 

  • Returns
  • Shipping
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Privacy Policy

Be transparent with your customers so they know how you handle their private information. You should also set your customers’ expectations so they understand how you handle shipping, returns, disputes, and more.

Products

Now that your store has everything it needs to sell products, you have one more vital step to take care of. Of course, you can’t sell products if you haven’t entered any products into your store. There are many types of products that WooCommerce supports including simple physical goods, physical products with variation options such as size and color, virtual products, downloadable products, services, and more. You may sell a mix of all of these types of products. Because there are so many possible scenarios, we suggest you view the detailed documentation for adding and managing WooCommerce products. If you have many products, this process might take more time than you anticipated, so set aside some to organize your list of products. Prepare product information such as titles, descriptions, and pricing for each product, and make sure you have crisp, clear photos of each. With all the information ready, the process of entering each product will be much easier than if you make those decisions on the fly.

With all this in place, your site is ready to sell!

Continue Improving Your Site

Periodically refreshing the look and feel of your site can improve your customer’s experience, which will ensure that you remain a successful business. Check out these tips for creating a great Shop page with Gutenberg

In addition, you’ll want to occasionally look for ways to boost your sales. By updating your shop’s design and adding features to enhance the experience for your customers, you’ll build success into the structure of your site. 

Are You Ready to Set Up Your eCommerce Shop With WordPress?

Use WordPress.com to set up your shop now

WordPress.com is a professional website solution for businesses of all sizes and types. Whether you’re collecting one-time payments for goods or accepting recurring payments for services, WordPress.com can help you process and take payments. Set up subscriptions, accept donations, create memberships, and more with WordPress.com and WooCommerce.

Let our experts build your custom WordPress.com website.

Whether you need a landing page or a full ecommerce site, an online learning academy or an interactive informational site for your business, we can build it for you.

Apply now

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The WordPress.com Team

At WordPress.com, our mission is to democratize publishing one website at a time. Create a free website or build a blog with ease on WordPress.com. Dozens of free, customizable, mobile-ready designs and themes.

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