How To Set Up WooCommerce (A Step-By-Step Guide)

WooCommerce is a free eCommerce platform built just for WordPress and many new, old and upcoming entrepreneurs want to use it as their main eCommerce platform but are afraid to switch or get started with it because as always, there is a lot to learn when starting on a new platform even when not counting all the different eCommerce platforms out there. Thankfully we are going to show you how to set up your WooCommerce store and how to get started step by step.

Installing WooCommerce

To install WooCommerce head on to your WordPress admin and go to “Plugins > Add new“. Here search for “WooCommerce” and click “Install“.

Installing WooCommerce

After WordPress is done downloading and installing WooCommerce, click the “Activate” button. This will activate WooCommerce and take you to their setup process.

Activate WooCommerce

WooCommerce basic setup

Step #1 – Store details

The first thing we need to add is our store details. This includes the physical address of our store and the country the store is located. This is mainly for tax purposes, but it also helps WooCommerce to set up basic settings specific to certain countries.

After filling in the information, simply click “Continue” to move to Step #2.

Don’t forget to remove the “checkmark” bottom of the form if you don’t wish to get updates from WooCommerce.

WooCommerce store details

Note – Yes, even eCommerce stores are required to have a physical address, even though they only work “online”. This is usually required by law, though might be different depending on the country or area your store and business are located.

Step #2 – Industry

In Step #2 you are asked about your industry. You can select multiple ones if you wish to do so. This selection helps WooCommerce to pick up what kind of products you might be selling in your online store. Though you can decide those in Step #3.

WooCommerce industry

Step #3 – Product types

Depending on your store’s “niche” you can sell physical products, downloadable products, or even both. Select the ones you think you will be selling at this point.

Note – This selection does not limit you in any way and you can sell physical and downloadable products as you wish, even both at the same time.

Step #4 – Business details

Select how many products you plan on adding and if you are selling them elsewhere. Again this is not to limit you but to help WooCommerce understand how large your store is so it may recommend other useful plugins.

WooCommerce business details

Free features include some plugins you can decide to install or not. In our example, we have installed MailPoet and a few others. For most MailPoet is all you need since it will help you build an email list. You can read our guide on “How To Build Email An List In WordPress With MailPoet

WooCommerce free freatures

Step #5 – Themes

WooCommerce likes to recommend their own themes and some other paid premium themes you can choose, but we highly recommend either using Kadence, Astra or GeneratePress. If you already have one you wish to use installed, you can simply click the “Continue with my active theme” to finish the setup.

WooCommerce themes

Note Do not pick up just any theme! Not all themes are made for WooCommerce and might be missing important functionality that could break your site.

How to add a new product in WooCoommerce

Now that we have our store set up it’s time to add our first product. To add a new product head on to “Products > Add New” from the left main menu. Creating a new product is fairly straightforward where you need to add basic information like the product name, price, and possibly other information you want to share with the customer.

Note – You can’t normally add a prefix or suffix to a price in WooCommerce, though you can add this functionality yourself with our guide on “How To Add Prefix And Suffix To WooCommerce Prices

WooCommerce add new product

Though not everything is required, it is recommended to add the following details about the product so the customer can get the best image of the product and know exactly what they are buying.

Product nameProducts name that will be displayed in the shop
Short descriptionA short description is displayed next to the product image and in other places where a short description of the product is required
Regular priceProducts price that it’s sold for
Product imageMain image of the product
Product categoryCategory the product should be placed. For example, the product category could be “Electronics” if you are selling displays.
InventoryHow many pieces of this specific product do you have available so WooCommerce can track it if required. If no inventory is set WooCommerce will expect that the product is always available.
ShippingMeaning product dimensions and weight if available. Required by most shipping companies so they can price the shipping correctly for you.

Note – Remember that the product description is also what search engines use to rank your product pages. This means that the better the description is the easier is for potential customers to find your product through search engines as well, bringing in more potential buyers.

Example product page

How to create a variable product in WooCommerce

Variable products are products with different variations of the same product. Creating them makes it easier for you to handle the shop when you might have the same product with just slight variations, meaning instead of having 10 different products in your shop you now have one with selectable attributes for the customer to choose from.

Step #1 – Change the product from a simple product to a variable product

When adding a new product it will be by default a “Single product“. To create a variable product with different variations you need to change the product type from the selection to a “Variable product“. This allows you to have one product with different variations, prices, and attributes like color or size.

Step #2 – Create attributes

After selecting “Variable product” you will see a new selection called “Attributes“. Here you can add different attributes the product might have like “Color“, “Size” or “Logo” for example.

To add an attribute click the “Add” button, give the name of the attribute and write all the attributes in the given field. Remember that each value needs to be separated with “|”, meaning if you wish to add attribute “Color” with colors, red, blue, and yellow your input would be “Red | Blue | Yellow“.

Note – When creating attributes remember that you need to check the “Used for variations” if you wish to use the added attribute in the variations. Otherwise, they will only be listed on the product page as information.

After you are happy with the attribute you just created click the “Save attributes” to save all the changes you made.

Step #3 – Creating the variations

In our example, we have created two attributes “Color” and “Size” which we will be using to create the variations of the product. To do this we need to move to the “Variations” tab and select “Create variations from all attributes” and click “Go” to create the variations.

Note – This will create a variation from all the attributes we have. Meaning if we have two attributes like size (S, M, L, XL) and color (Red, Blue, Yellow) they each have means this 4 x 3 variation equals up to 12 variations!

Step #4 – Editing the variations

You can edit each variation product in the “Variations” tab and if required even add more. You need to add the basic info for each variation to make it purchasable in the store. When you are happy with the changes, remember to press “Update” on the top right of the page to save the changes.

Here is an example of what a variable product will look like when it’s published. As you can see in the image we now have two new selections for the customer which are “Color” and Size“.

Example variable product page

Set up the tax

To set up tax we need to head to the WooCommerce settings which can be found from “WooCommerce > Settings” and select the “General” tab. Here you need to add a checkmark on the “Enable tax rates and calculations” and click “Save settings” at the bottom of the page.

Enable tax calculations in WooCommerce

After saving the settings you should see a new tab called “Tax” which allows you to implement the right tax % for each area you are going to sell and set different tax percentages for different product groups if required in your area.

Taxes enabled in WooCommerce

In taxes, you should check the “Prices entered with tax” setting so it reflects the tax setting of your area. For example, some areas might require stores to tell the price with tax included while others might only give the price before taxes and only show the tax and checkout.

To edit the standard tax rate click the “Standard rates” under the “Tax” tab to view the setting.

Here you can set up the standard tax rate which will be applied to the product depending on the area the user is from or where the product is shipped. You can also choose if this tax is applied to shipping or not. To add new rows simply click the “Insert row” button. When you are happy with your settings click “Save changes“.

Note – You (the seller) are responsible for collecting and paying tax to the authorities in your jurisdiction.

Set up the shipping method

Head on to “WooCommerce > Settings” and select the “Shipping” tab to edit the shipping methods you offer. To add a new shipping zone click the “Add new shipping zone” button.

In the shipping zone you need to add the following information:

  • The shipping zone name
  • Zone regions (meaning the country this shipping method is available for)
  • Postcodes (if you wish to limit the shipping zone to only specific areas)
  • Shipping method (Flat rate, free shipping, etc.)
WooCommerce shipping

To add a new shipping method simply click the “Add shipping method” and then you can choose which kind of shipping method you are offering flat/free shipping. More are usually available if you add a plugin from delivery companies like DHL, FedEx, or other shipping companies.

To add a price and if the shipping is taxable or not click the “Edit” button on the new shipping method you created to add the required information.

WooCommerce flat shipping rate

When you are happy with the shipping methods click the “Save changes” to save the new shipping zone.

Note – You can create multiple different shipping zones for different areas. This way you can have different shipping methods or even the same methods with just different prices for different areas.

Setting up WooCommerce payments

To edit and set up your payment methods head to the “Payments” tab in WooCommerce settings. In our example, we will be enabling the “Check payments” just so we can make sure that the store is working as intended, though you probably want to set up a payment provider like Stripe or Paypal to accept payments in your shop later on.

To enable payments click the switch and “Save changes“. You can edit these later on if you want to disable certain payment methods.

Note – You can switch up the order of payment methods by dragging them from the left side with the three lines and then pressing “Save changes”. This will change the order in which the payment method will be shown in your checkout.

WooCommerce Accounts & Privacy

If you wish to allow your customers to create and manage their own eCommerce accounts you can do that from here or if you wish to force users to create an account to order you can do that from here as well, though it’s not recommended since it might hurt your conversions. Other options include allowing users to create accounts from the “My account” page and at checkout.

Note – Depending on where you live you might need to set up “Personal data retention“. Thankfully this is made easy with WooCommerce and can be edited at the bottom of the “Account & Privacy” – page.

WooCommerce email settings

Before publishing your store it’s also a good idea to edit your email settings. To do this visit the WooCommerce settings and head on to the “Emails” -tab. In the email settings you can enable and disable different emails WooCommerce sends and how they look. Though there aren’t many options you can edit without touching the HTML of the emails themselves there are quite a few things you can change.

These changes include:

  • Name of the sender
  • Senders email
  • The colors used in the emails
  • Header image
  • Footer text
  • The text color used in the body

If you wish to edit the emails further you can copy them to your current theme and edit the email templates directly, though this requires you to know HTML, CSS, and PHP to edit them effectively.

For non-technical users, we recommend using the MailPoet plugin that can handle all your WordPress email list needs as well as help you collect and send marketing emails to your customers. MailPoet also offers an easy way to edit the WooCommerce emails to a certain point. The editor can be accessed easily by clicking the “Customize with MailPoet” once the plugin is installed and activated in your WordPress.

Final checkups

Now that we have our first product created, we have set up shipping, taxes, and payment methods it’s a good time to check that everything is in order functionally in the shop.

A good order in which to test your new eCommerce store to make sure everything works as intended:

  1. Go to your shop page
  2. Select a product
  3. Check that the product has the right price (include / excluding tax depending on your settings)
  4. Add the product to the cart
  5. Go to cart
  6. Add/remove the product amount in the cart and update it
  7. Go to checkout
  8. Fill in the checkout form
  9. Select a shipping method and check its pricing
  10. Select payment method
  11. Pay the order (or use check payment or a test run if you do not wish to move real money)
  12. Check that you landed on the “Thank you” -page and that all the information is showing correctly

Note – Most problems happen at checkout if you haven’t set up the payment method or shipping method correctly. The most common problem is that the product might be missing dimensions or has no shipping methods for some reason.

Here’s what our shop, cart, and checkout look like on our page. We are using the Kadence theme in our example.

WooCommerce shop page example
WooCommerce cart page example
WooCommerce checkout page example

Note – We have added one product to our cart, which is required to be able to access the checkout since checkout can’t be accessed with an empty cart. It’s also useful since we want to test our shop’s functionality from start to finish.

Conclusion

You now know how to set up your very own WooCommerce store with taxes, and shipping and know how to create your products including variable products. Though there is much more to WooCommerce like coupons and sales analytics we didn’t go through in this article you can read about them in our other guides.

Got a question regarding WooCommerce or something you would like us to go talk about in more detail? Comment below and let us know.

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