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Build your online store with WooCommerce

Sakkun Tickoo Sakkun Tickoo - 21st Jun, 2024

In a business environment that’s increasingly online, WooCommerce could be the gateway for your store to join the e-commerce space.

With close to 60 million e-commerce users in the United Kingdom, it’s expected that most businesses are eager to have an online presence. Turning to the global scenario, as per ecommerce statistics published on Search Logistics, 2.64 billion online customers account for 33% of the world population. There’s never been a better time for UK-based enterprises looking to target this market to build a robust e-commerce presence.

However, choosing the right platform for your e-business venture could be a tricky terrain to navigate. WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin with a high degree of customisability, scalability, and a variety of supported premium extensions, making it an excellent choice for your e-commerce initiatives. It caters to businesses of various sizes and adapts to their requirements seamlessly.

In this power-packed piece, we will explore the basic steps to launch your WooCommerce online store in the UK. We will also briefly compare Shopify, one of its closest alternatives, and explore how Wonderful’s open banking integration streamlines your business, reduces transaction costs, and enhances overall financial efficiency.

So, let’s set up your business for a wonderful WooCommerce experience in a few easy steps.

The six-step formula to start your WooCommerce online store

Research and plan

Research-based actionable plans are indispensable prerequisites for any commercial venture. In this initial phase, you scan the business horizon and assess what your potential competitors are doing. Based on the insights, you create your business blueprint and go-to-market strategies. The three main action points are:

●     Market analysis: Understanding your market, locating your niche, and developing a business strategy are all important aspects of market analysis.

●     Competition tracking: Research your rivals and do a thorough need-gap analysis. This will reveal the opportunities that exist in the market. You can tailor your offerings accordingly to stay ahead of the competition.

●     Business plan: Create a detailed business plan that outlines your objectives, the people you intend to attract, and the marketing methods you intend to implement. This will not only act as an initial guide but also serve as a long-term roadmap that will shape your business strategies in the future.

Select your platform

Are you wondering if WooCommerce is still one of the best choices for your e-commerce venture? While several other players have entered the ever-changing e-commerce market, WooCommerce continues to enjoy the largest global market share at 39%. Besides its flexibility and expandability, WooCommerce online store owners love this open-source platform for its extensive plugins and themes. Additionally, you will become a part of a thriving WooCommerce community ready to extend a helping hand and provide valuable tutorials, ideal for beginners.

However, you are best advised to check out alternatives like Shopify, BigCommerce, Magneto, Wix, and others before finalising a suitable e-commerce platform. Keep in mind the following factors as you make this critical decision:

●     Cost: Total expenses, which encompass transaction fees, initial setup, and ongoing maintenance.

●     User-friendly interface: The interface is designed to be user-friendly for store owners and customers.

●     Integration: Their system links up with your CRM, payment gateways, and marketing automation tools effortlessly.

●     Adaptability: The capacity to customise the platform to meet the unique requirements of your business through the use of extensions and themes.

●     Scalability: The ability to expand your business without causing significant disruptions or changes.

Set up your WooCommerce online store

●     Domain and hosting: Choosing a dependable hosting service and registering a domain name that represents your business are both important steps in organising your website.

●     The Installation of WordPress: You should install WordPress and select a theme that is suitable for the aesthetics of your brand. With WooCommerce, you can explore a wide range of attractive themes as low-cost plugins.

Add products

●     Product listings: Through the use of product listings, you may organise your inventory by providing thorough product descriptions, categories, and tags. An improved shopping experience is achieved through the use of high-quality photos and detailed product information.

●     Inventory management: Make use of the inventory management capabilities that WooCommerce provides to efficiently handle orders and keep track of different stock levels. By activating the automated reordering feature, you optimise your inventory. This allows you to avoid working capital bottlenecks while ensuring that fast-moving products are always available for your customers.

Payments and shipping configuration

●     Integration of payment gateways: Include secure gateways like Wonderful's open banking, PayPal, Stripe, or BNPL. WooCommerce online stores in the UK usually opt for multiple payment plugins and gateways to serve a larger audience. There are a variety of WooCommerce payment plugin options which can be integrated with your WooCommerce store allowing customers to choose a variety of payment methods for payment processing.

●     Options for shipping: Establish shipping zones, rates, and procedures that are customised to meet the requirements of your company.

Establish and promote your online store

●     SEO optimisation: Research indicates that around 99% of Google users do not go beyond page 1 of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Being a WordPress plugin, WooCommerce has robust SEO capabilities that can help your store’s online ranking. Include keywords such as "WooCommerce online store" and "WooCommerce online store in the UK" in order to get traffic that is relevant to your business.

●     Strategic marketing: Utilise content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing to bring in new consumers and keep the ones you already have.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify - which one should you choose?

With about 10% market share and growing website traffic, Shopify is among the closest rivals of WooCommerce. Forbes advisor UK recently published an in-depth analysis of the two competing e-commerce software that makes for a fascinating read. Here’s a summary of the pros and cons of both platforms:

➢     User compatibility: Shopify is an excellent choice for novices due to its user-friendly interface and simple setup process. However, WooCommerce offers a greater degree of flexibility and control, which may prove advantageous for enterprises with technical expertise.

➢     The commercial aspect: WooCommerce payment gateways may be more cost-effective for small to medium-sized businesses. Hosting and any supplementary themes that you incorporate are the sole expenses, as it is open-source. Shopify operates on a subscription model that includes transaction fees.

➢     Customisability: WooCommerce is great because it is open source, which lets you make a lot of changes. You can modify store layout, product mixes, promotional offers, and more to adjust to your specific requirements.

➢     Scalability: Both solutions can grow with your business, but as you do, WooCommerce might need more technical know-how. Shopify's hosted option has built-in scalability, but WooCommerce's scalability depends on the hosting provider you have chosen.

The final verdict? It entirely depends on your current needs, future plans, and technical expertise.

Open banking for WooCommerce - Wonderful leading the way

Wonderful is revolutionising WooCommerce online stores by leveraging the amazing features of the open banking system. Instant bank payments, fast settlements, and seamless integration with existing platforms are some of their strong points. Wonderful has introduced a ‘Plus’ plan for it's WooCommerce payment plugin that provides 2,000 monthly transactions for just £19.99 per month. Transactions outside the bundle are also charged at just 1p per transaction. You not only ensure an incredible customer experience through a cost-effective and secure platform but also become an integral part of several social initiatives that they periodically undertake.

How do I set up a WooCommerce Online store on WordPress?

If you have an existing WordPress website, opting for WooCommerce becomes a natural choice. For complete beginners as well, this combination can be the ideal way to launch your online business. Let’s run you through the easy setup process:

1.   Install WordPress:

○     Hosting provider: There are several credible hosting services like WP Engine, Bluehost, and SiteGround that support WordPress. Install WordPress and select a suitable domain name for your brand. Depending on the nature of your business, you can decide whether to go for .com,.org,.edu, or any other available domain.

2.   Install WooCommerce:

○     Download and activate: Search the WordPress plugin repository for the WooCommerce plugin. Download and activate it.

○     Setup wizard: The WooCommerce setup wizard helps you configure the basic settings, such as currency, tax options, and store location.

3.   Select and customise a theme:

○     Theme Selection: Choose a WooCommerce-compatible theme from the WordPress theme repository, or buy a premium theme from markets such as ThemeForest.

○     Customisation: Use the WordPress Customizer to make the theme fit your brand. Change the colours, fonts, and layout to reflect your brand's identity.

4.   Add your products and services:

○     Production information: Neatly categorise and tag product information, including title, description, images, and prices.

○     Product variations: WooCommerce comes with an in-built feature that allows you to segregate your products based on size, colour, and other variations.

5.   Setup payment gateways:

○     Payment methods and gateways: You can integrate multiple WooCommerce payment methods, such as card-based payments, bank transfers, BNPL (buy now, pay later), digital wallets, and open banking via supported gateways like PayPal, Stripe, Klarna, Wonderful, etc.

6.   Shipping configuration:

○     Zones and methods: Define shipping zones, tariffs, and procedures according to your shipping strategy. Different areas can have their own shipping prices set up in WooCommerce.

○     Logistics Providers: Make shipping pricing and tracking available in real-time by integrating with prominent carriers such as UPS, FedEx, and DHL.

7.   Test before launching:

○     Testing: It’s important to scrutinise navigability, checkout, payment gateways, and shipping options carefully before opening your site for public use.

○     Launching and marketing: Once you are satisfied with the test run, you can launch your WooCommerce-powered WordPress portal. Maintaining the website’s hygiene and implementing customised marketing promotions can help your site gain popularity.

Additional benefits of WooCommerce

●     Advanced marketing tools: Improve your store's exposure and consumer engagement with WooCommerce's advanced marketing tool integration. WooCommerce works flawlessly with a wide range of marketing tools, including social networking channels, SEO plugins, and email marketing platforms.

●     Robust security features: Your online store and customer data will be safeguarded from cyber-attacks with WooCommerce's robust security features. These include SSL certificates, secure payment methods, and frequent updates.

●     Analytics and insights: You may optimise your eCommerce approach with data-driven decisions made possible by WooCommerce's analytics tools, which let you track consumer behaviour, sales performance, and website traffic.

Conclusion

WooCommerce online stores in the UK are maximising this feature-rich, compatible e-commerce software to grow their online businesses. By integrating with an easy-to-use, cost-effective payment provider like Wonderful, you can take advantage of open banking to optimise your online business. However, compare the features and customised offers of other platforms with WooCommerce and assess which one fits best with your business requirements. After all, this is one decision that will play a pivotal role in the success of your digital venture.

FAQs

Is WooCommerce good for large e-commerce?

One of WooCommerce’s USPs is its scalability. Thus, it can serve both startups or small businesses on the one hand and large corporations with tech-heavy e-business portals on the other. Managing high traffic volumes and extended product categories can easily be done with WooCommerce with proper hosting.

Do I have to use the WooCommerce shop page?

No, there are a lot of themes and plugins available to help you personalise your online store's layout. You can tailor WooCommerce's page layouts and content to your company's specific needs.

Is it possible to use Shopify and WooCommerce together?

While theoretically doable, it poses several technical challenges and requires custom development. It may not be a cost-effective solution, either.

Do I need WooCommerce to sell on my website?

Though there are choices due to its capabilities and adaptability, WooCommerce comes highly recommended. You can find other systems with varying pricing methods and features on sites like BigCommerce, Squarespace Online, Woo Themes, Magneto, and more.

Is WooCommerce the best choice for starting an online store?

Every business has its own unique needs. WooCommerce, with its adaptability, growth matrix, and cost-effectiveness can be an ideal choice for several businesses. However, you will be well-advised to scan the market for other suitable alternatives.

Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

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