If you have a self-hosted website – that is, you are paying for hosting – then you can add a free online shop to it. It takes a little work to set it up, but if you have a simple, small shop and you are working with a small budget, this is a good option. Here are the basic steps to add a free online shop to your WordPress site using the WooCommerce plugin:
- Install the WooCommerce plugin: In your WP admin area, go to Plugins and choose Add New. Search for ‘WooCommerce’ (one word – it will come up first this way, because there are a lot of Woo Commerce plugins. Click Install and Activate Plugin.
- Now comes the hard part – the setup. WooCommerce plugin will start by creating a few essential pages (Shop, Cart, etc.). You’ll be asked about your store’s locale, the currency you’ll use, shipping, taxes, etc. Just follow the prompts. You can change this later if you need to. You’ll be asked about the payment system you’ll use – PayPal is a common option. There is guidance offered through videos and interactive walk-throughs, etc.
- Creating your first product: You can follow the ‘Create your First Product’ prompt, or go to the Admin sidebar and choose ‘Add Product’ under the shopping cart icon. The ‘Add New Product’ page looks a lot like a regular WordPress post or page. Fill the info as it applies to your product. This can be as detailed or as simple as you choose – it depends on your shop requirements. As I said, this takes a little work, but it will be well worth it if you have relatively simple needs and you want complete control of your shop – for free. So fill in the info regarding shipping, price, product image, product description, etc.
- Settings: After you create one product, you may want to visit WooCommerce’s Settings area, which is quite detailed. Here you’ll see more options to address taxes that may be applied, varying shipping rates, checkout options, and the appearance of your shop, etc.
- More options: the WooCommerce plugin is just the tip of the ice burg. The are other Woo Commerce related plugins that you can add to further enhance your shop – shipping weight variables, display variables, buttons, etc. Go to the Plugins area and search for Woo Commerce to see lots of other plugins for your store.
- Menu: Finally, after you add your products, you’ll still have to go to the Menu area and set up how you want people to find your products. When you go to the Menu, you’ll now see ‘Products’ along with Posts and Pages, etc. You now have options about how to display your shop. Add the Shop page to your menu. You can display all your products under here. Or if you’ve created categories for your inventory, they can be organized by category here.
Your store can be as simple or as detailed as you need. The more complex your shop, the more time-consuming it will be for you to set up. But if you do want to control your own shop, this is a good option.