How to Turn Your WordPress Into an Online Store

WordPress

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There are many ways to get the most out of a website. But undoubtedly, the best way is to turn it into an online store where you can sell your products. And by this we mean anything from physical products to digital content, or even hours of your time.

If your website is an online store, you will be able to sell anything to an audience all over the world, so the possibilities and impact you can have are practically unlimited.

Set up an online store in your WordPress and become a sales rockstar.
Set up an online store in your WordPress and become a sales rockstar. Source: Giphy.

In this article I’m going to explain you some ways to turn your WordPress website into an online store easily. The main goal is to get rid of the fear and demonstrate that you can set up a profitable business from your computer screen with just a few clicks and a lot of enthusiasm.

Set up Your Online Store in WordPress

Let’s see the most popular options for setting up your online store in WordPress. There are many more options, but with these you will have all your needs covered.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the most popular e-commerce platform today (just go see the statistics in Builtwith). It’s a completely free WordPress plugin that transforms your installation into an online store with everything you need to start selling.

To install WooCommerce just go to the Plugins section of your WordPress, then search and install it. Once you activate it, a wizard will appear to help you set up your online store in a few simple steps.

The WooCommerce wizard guides you through the process of setting up your online store. You'll have your shop up and running in no time.
The WooCommerce wizard guides you through the process of setting up your online store. You’ll have your shop up and running in no time.

Payment methods, shipment details, currency, taxes, and many other aspects of your online store will be configured during this first steps. And if you have any questions or doubts, you can always take a look at WooCommerce official documentation website.

Finally, once you’re done with the setup, WooCommerce will suggest that you install the Storefront theme, which is the official theme they specifically created to use along WooCommerce. Alternatively you can find a lot of WordPress themes that have WooCommerce support (both free and paid).

Storefront is the WordPress theme designed by WooCommerce developers.
Storefront is the WordPress theme designed by WooCommerce developers.

Being such a popular plugin, there is a whole ecosystem of WordPress plugins around it that extend the default WooCommerce functionality. So with WooCommerce almost anything is possible thanks to all the plugins that extend its features.

Among the most popular plugins to extend WooCommerce, I’d like to highlight the official plugins that you can find directly from the WooCommerce menu.

There you will find information about Subscriptions, which is an extension to allow recurring payments; you will also see the existence of Bookings, a plugin for your visitors to buy time slots in a calendar, perfect for making reservations in physical stores, such as a beauty salon; finally, you will find out about the Memberships plugin, which turns your website into a club where members may have advantages over regular users such as viewing private content or being able to access premium products.

WooCommerce has a lot of plugins that allow you to extend its functionalities to adapt your shop to your needs.
WooCommerce has a lot of plugins that allow you to extend its functionalities to adapt your shop to your needs.

I’m sure you like analytics, so you’ll be happy to know WooCommerce has several reports about your store’s performance. At a glance, you can see if your sales are working well with simple charts that you can view from your own WordPress dashboard. With this you have no excuse to set up an online store and manage it from your own WordPress without needing anything more than a plugin and a little of dedication.

WooCommerce provides a series of reports so you can see how well your online store is working.
WooCommerce provides a series of reports so you can see how well your online store is working.

If you are just starting out in the world of e-commerce I recommend that you install WooCommerce in your WordPress and start playing with it. I’m sure you’ll love what you’ll find.

Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads is the second most popular plugin to sell in WordPress, right after WooCommerce. It specializes in selling digital products and is free, although you can purchase paid packages with access to additional extensions and premium support.

With Easy Digital Downloads you can define digital download products and manage your purchase through different payment platforms.
With Easy Digital Downloads you can define digital download products and manage your purchase through different payment platforms.

You can define the download products directly from WordPress, as if they were a page or post. You only have to indicate its price and upload the file or indicate the URL from where it can be downloaded. Everything else is the same as when you edit content in your WordPress, so you don’t need to learn anything new. If you know WordPress, you’ll know how to use Easy Digital Downloads.

Product editing screen with Easy Digital Downloads.
Product editing screen with Easy Digital Downloads.

As with WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads includes reports to see how your store is performing and how many sales you had. You can also export the data so you can work with it on other systems if you need to.

Easy Digital Downloads includes graphics with the sales data of your online store in WordPress.
Easy Digital Downloads includes graphics with the sales data of your online store in WordPress.

Other Options

If your needs for selling on WordPress are not too complex, both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads may be too complex and powerful. Perhaps something simpler is enough for you.

If this is your case, there are plugins that allow you to add a payment button to your website so that when your visitors click on it they can pay you directly. This will be useful when you ask for donations or when you need simple one-time payments in exchange for a digital product that the customer receives through a hidden URL on your website.

An interesting option is to receive payments through PayPal. You can use the PayPal Buy Now Button plugin, which allows you to add PayPal payment buttons to your WordPress using shortcodes.

FastSpring allows you to add buttons to buy from WordPress the products you have defined in your store with them.
FastSpring allows you to add buttons to buy from WordPress the products you have defined in your store.

On the other hand, if you use FastSpring for your payment system you have the FastSpring plugin for WordPress available that allows you to set up your store and add payment buttons to the content.

Final Remarks

As you have seen, if you want to set up an online store in WordPress, you have several options available depending on your needs. If you’re just going to sell a single product, you don’t need to make it too complicated and adding purchase buttons will be enough. There are many plugins for this.

On the other hand, if you need a professional solution for your WordPress online store, you have WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads as the most important e-commerce plugins. It all depends on whether the product you are selling is physical or digital. The good thing about this is that both plugins are very easy to use, so you’ll probably end up handling them with ease.

Tell us about your experience selling with WordPress in the comment section below 😉.

Featured image by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash.

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Antonio obtained his PhD in Computer Science at UPC. He has several publications in the field of data mining and information retrieval applied to conceptual modeling and health informatics. He specialized in the design, development, and integration of web services and cloud applications. He's an active contributor to the WordPress community and participates in meetups, seminars and WordCamps.

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