Building an eCommerce Site

So you want to sell stuff online? BYU Domains can help you do that! Be warned that there are costs associated with setting up an eCommerce site, but this article is focused on helping you keep your costs to a minimum. We are going to use WordPress, the free WooCommerce plugin, and Google Analytics to turn your site into a success. If you are using a CMS other than WordPress for your website, you can create a store subdomain (e.g., yourshop.domain.com). A subdomain will allow you to use WordPress to build a store as if it were a separate website; it won't alter the work you have put into your current site's CMS. You can create a subdomain by following the instructions on the How to Create a Subdomain article.

Install WooCommerce
After installing WordPress, pull up your WordPress Dashboard.

Hover over the “Plugins” button on the menu click “Add New.”

Search for “WooCommerce” in the search box on the left, and then click “Install Now” once you have found it.

Click “Activate Plugin.”

You will then be redirected to the WooCommerce setup page. Click “Let’s Go!”

Choose your location and your system of measurement. Then click “Continue.”

You can specify shipping options for your site here, but if you’re still unsure, you can always change them later. WooCommerce can do a lot for you as a vendor, but it can't ship your items for you. You will have to do some research on how much it will cost you to ship your products.

Generally, taxes on online purchases need only be charged to buyers that live within the same state as your store's address. If you live in Utah and you're shipping to a customer in Utah, then your Utah customer will have to pay taxes. Your New York customer may not have to. There may also be fees for international exportation, depending on where you ship your goods. You can read more about e-commerce tax laws, and international tax laws to become more informed.

Click the “Continue” button to go to the next page.

If you have a PayPal account, you can add that information here. PayPal is a payment gateway application that will charge your customers for your products and then send that money to you. There are many options for payment gateways and we will discuss them in depth in the next section. If you do not yet have a paypal account, leave the field blank. On this page, you can also add any manual processing options you want if you plan just to sell locally. When you are done, click “Continue.” WooCommerce is now setup to be used on your site!

WordPress Theme Compatibility

Not all WordPress themes are compatible with WooCommerce. Many free themes are poorly made or have too many automated options that will not allow you to work very easily with WooCommerce; however, there are many free quality themes that will function well. Be sure that the theme you choose will allow you to do everything you need it to. Themes often have a checklist of their functions. To learn how to install a WordPress theme, see the Making Your Domain Your Own articles.

Configuring a Payment Gateway
You have now configured the basics for your eCommerce site. The next step is to figure out how you are going to get paid. A payment gateway is a third party application that accepts money from the customer and then sends it to the vendor. Here are eight different payment gateway companies with varying features and prices:

Payment Gateway Setup Fee Monthly Fees Per Transaction Fee Countries Currencies Credit Card Types $ Limit per Transaction Free WordPress Plugin
Authorize.net $49 $20 + $0.10/day $0.10 International 3 3 N/A Yes
Beanstream $0 $0 2.9% + $0.30/day International Options 2 5 N/A No
Dwolla $0 $0 Free for transactions under $10
$0.25 for transactions over $10
USA 1 Linked Bank Account Personal: $5,000
Business: $10,000
No
PayPal$0$0 2.9% + $0.30/day International 20 6 $10,000 Yes
Stripe$0$0 2.9% + $0.30/day International 100+ 6 N/A Yes
Amazon Payments$0$0 2.9% + $0.30/day International 1 6 N/A Yes
First Data Fees are based on individual monthly sales volume. You must contact FirstData to speak with an account executive and determine a price. International 1 6 N/A No

Be aware that some payment gateways offer premium options and prices not listed on this chart. These are only a few basic options and features that will determine which payment gateway would be best for your site. Be especially aware of the benefits and limitations of payment gateways that use linked bank accounts, such as Dwolla, and credit card accounts, such as PayPal. You will also notice that this chart indicates that some of the payment gateways do not offer free WordPress plugins. A plugin is how you would integrate your site with the payment gateway.

WooCommerce offers payment gateway plugins at the rate of $79/year. If you don't want to pay for the WooCommerce plugin, other WordPress plugins, such as a Shopping Cart, will allow you to integrate payment gateways that don’t have their own plugins. Shopping Cart, however, is also a paid plugin.

You may be able to integrate one of these other payment options without a plugin, but it's a very manual process. Make sure that you research your payment gateway thoroughly so that you get the features that you need. It is also possible to set up local delivery and payments. However, this will limit the scope of your online business.

Security

Before you start taking orders and earning money you will also need SSL protection for your site. SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is an encryption service that prevents hackers from eavesdropping on sensitive information sent between computers. You will need to get an SSL certificate so that you can build trust on your website and protect your visitors' information. Documentation on obtaining an SSL certificate is found on the SSL Security page.

Configuring eCommerce Google Analytics

Hopefully you have already configured your site to do Google Analytics. If not, you can do so by following the instructions in the Understanding Your Audience documentation. Setting up Google Analytics will allow you to track your online traffic. It will also allow you to see where your visitors are located, where your customers are abandoning their shopping cart, and how your products or pages are performing.

To set up Google Analytics for eCommerce, get onto your Google Analytics account and then and go to the “Admin” tab.

Click on “Ecommerce Settings.”

Enable eCommerce by clicking the status button to “On.” Then click “Next step.”

Enable enhanced eCommerce reporting by clicking the “On” button and then clicking “Submit.” Your site is now optimized to collect information about site visits! For more basic information about eCommerce Google Analytics and additional features and uses, read these WooCommerce instructions. You can also learn a great deal by reading the in-depth Google Analytics documentation.

Online Store Setup Now you are ready to set up your store. Your store front will be a page just like any normal WordPress page or blog post on your site. To set up this page, log in to your WordPress account dashboard and go to “Settings” in the WooCommerce drop-down menu.

Go to the “Products” tab on the top of the page.

Click on “Display.”

When WooCommerce is installed, it creates several pages such as “Shop,” “Cart,” and “Checkout.” You are encouraged to use these pages to create your store, but if you don’t like the names, you can always change them later. Under the “Shop Page” menu, select which page you would like your products to appear on. This will be your store front. Under “Shop Page Display.” you can choose if you want all of your products to appear on this page, or, if you have lots of products, you can choose to show your product categories on this page.

You can divide your products into separate category pages, such as “Hats,” “Cats,” and “Mats” so that your customer is not overwhelmed by the number of products on your site. You have now set your pages to automatically sync with your products and product categories. You don't need to put anything on the pages that WooCommerce has created; these pages are edited and synced in the WooCommerce settings.

Additional information about settings can be found in the WooCommerce documentation.

Creating Product Pages

Now you are ready to start putting products into your store! We will show you the basics, but if you would like to see more detailed instructions, read the WooCommerce documentation.

By going to the “Products” tab on your left-hand menu, you can view all of the products in your store. Click “Add Product” to add a new product.

The product page feels just like a blog page or normal page. You can use the settings here to customize and edit your products. Add pictures, descriptions, and specify a product category on this page.

Setting it up this way will look something like this picture below, depending on your theme settings. Notice the automatic placement of the text and items so that you will know where to put your text.

Every product that you create will automatically be sent to the page that you specified in the settings. In this case, I specified the “Shop” page. The Shop page will look something like this:

Clicking on the product will take the user to the product page and clicking “ADD TO CART” will store the product in the user's cart. The user can then view the cart and check out. Congratulations! You now have your first product on the market!

Managing Orders

When someone places an order, you will receive a notification on your WordPress dashboard. It will appear as a little colored number on the “Orders” menu button. Click on “Orders” to view your orders. WooCommerce is also set up to send you an email each time you receive an order. This can be changed in the WooCommerce settings under the “Email” tab in the “New order” menu.

You can view the order status, the item purchased, and the shipping address. Now you can send your customer their order. Once the order has been sent, you can click the checkmark button on the right to mark the order as completed. You can also use the WooCommerce Simply Order Export plugin to export your orders in a CSV file, which you can open with Microsoft Excel. If you have many orders, this may be a good way for you to organize everything.

Sales Reports

Click on the “Reports” button to see how your business is doing. This menu will allow you to see your total volume of sales, costs, and item stock.

These are the basic functions of WooCommerce. We encourgae you to read the extensive WooCommerce documentation as it will give you more knowledge on customizing and building your online store. Good luck!