Online shopping: What’s it all about?
The Internet and its capabilities are changing the very fabric of our society and it is altering the way each of us go about our daily lives. With masses of information available, literally at our fingertips, we are each turning to our smart phones more and more as a personal assistant to contribute to most aspects of everyday life. From social media, to entertainment we are all constantly looking to the internet to connect us with all the services we love, each and every day!
One of those services – that we just can’t seem to get enough of – is online shopping. It’s convenient, it’s efficient and it’s opened up a whole world of commercial opportunity for businesses, big and small, across the globe. Check out one of our eCommerce websites here.
Over the years, there has been a steady incline of online retail success stories and the online shopping arena. This was originally a space for large corporate businesses to expand into when their demand could no longer be managed within the constraints of store retail hours.
Since then, online shopping numbers have continued to rise. As the web becomes even more intuitive and seamlessly synchronised with our everyday lifestyles, it has become viable for small independents, and even sole traders, to jump on the bandwagon and start selling their products worldwide over the web.
Although some retailers are worrying about the decrease in sales in physical stores, online shopping is still set to stay, as there are just so many positives. It is not only the convenient shopping hours and shopping locations (24-7, wherever there’s Wi-Fi) but it is the easy search functions; the multiple choice and customisable options, the flexible delivery, and with many online stores even offering free next day delivery!
The positives are not only for the customers but also the sellers! Think about it, an online store offers smaller overheads, automatic stock check/inventory, easy card transactions, an open all hours shop front…What’s not to love?
If all of this has you thinking that you want a slice of the action, but you’re not sure what the next step is, then keep on reading! To check out some of our eCommerce projects or simply for some inspiration, click here.
How to get involved as a seller
This influx of online shopping over the past decade has helped shaped the digital economy as we know it today, and the streamlining of digital technology and our everyday living means the demand for expertly designed and easy to use eCommerce websites is is bigger than ever before.
So you want to get involved and start selling your own products online? It really is as simple as A, B, C!
- The first thing you need to consider is a website platform as the base of your online shop.
WordPress is the platform of choice for many new businesses due to its ease of use and customisable flexibility. WordPress is much more than just a blog site and many amazing eCommerce shops use the platform as a starting point for very successful businesses. But, WordPress needs a little embellishment to transform it from a information website to a online shop! You can have a look at the WordPress service we provide here.
- Download the WooCommerce Plugin that is built to work seamlessly with WordPress.
WooCommerce is the plugin of choice for millions of happy retailers worldwide. It works seamlessly with that beloved WordPress interface that we all know and love, and allows us to display and sell our products easily! If you would like a WooCommerce London website designed for you, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. There’s more information about what WooCommerce is below.
- Start selling!
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce was launched in 2011 and is an amazing free plugin that allows you to sell anything to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
It is the most popular eCommerce solution worldwide that gives shop owners and developers unlimited control and freedom to customise and develop shops to their very specific requirements. The plugin is completely open source and it can pretty much be used for all of your eCommerce needs.
With WooCommerce on WordPress there are lots of template design option to choose from and you can customise them as you go if you want. Lots of the basic templates are actually free, so you can have a go at setting up the shop how you like before spending too much on a fully customised site.
The practical stuff: Getting started with WooCommerce
Click here to download the plugin OR…
- Sign up/ Login to WordPress
- Scroll to Plugins > Add New
- Search for WooCommerce
- Check out the ratings and descriptions (just to make sure!)
- Click install and enter!
If you are unsure of how to move forward from here – and you are a little bit overwhelmed by all of the different ‘best practice’ guides on the web – then perhaps you should try using the built in Quick Set-up wizard for WooCommerce which allows you to quickly and easily make a basic shop setup.
Even if you do not keep these settings for future iterations of your online shop, it will give you an insight into the set-up and configuration of a standard shop and allow you to get used to how the site can be navigated with the WooCommerce plugin.
The WooCommerce Quick Set-up Wizard
As standard the Quick Set-up Wizard will automatically go through the following things:
- Page Set-up (for shop page, cart page, checkout page, my account page)
- Store Location Screen (with pre-calculated shipping and tax info, which can be changed)
- Store currency (This automatically syncs with the store location but can be changed)
- Product weight and dimensions (this will of course relate directly to your particular product)
These are the integral components of the online shop and if you do not have much time to play around with customisation, then this is a great place to get selling your stuff asap!
Setting up payments – the simple way
The simplest way to enable payments online is through PayPal. WooCommerce allows you the option to select a PayPal plugin that can be added to your shop for free, this is the widest used, best rated and safest (for both buyer and seller) payment option online. For more info visit the official WordPress page on PayPal integration here.
The ready screen
Once you have gone through the stages above, you will see a ready screen pop up with information about diagnostic data. If you click allow here, this helps make WooCommerce better for all users by automatically sending information about any glitches with the Plugin straight to the developer without sending any user specific data. You can of course opt out too, by simply clicking no.
Your basic shop is now set up and ready to go! It’s fairly simple, but if you would rather have us set up your WooCommerce London website, we would be happy to do so. You can see some of our eCommerce websites here.
Customising and getting to know the WooCommerce plugin
WordPress is a highly customisable platform and offers users lots of free advice and help on the forums. This makes making alterations on your site yourself really quite easy and this can all be managed from your WP Dashboard. Once the WooCommerce plugin is installed this will be available on the left hand panel along with all of your other WP options.
From here you can add whatever you need to your eCommerce site, as easily as you can in a standard WordPress site. For example to add the shop to your WordPress menu, simply go to > Appearance > Menu > Shop (Add to menu.) Now, you have a place to put all of your amazing products.
Adding products yourself
This is the important bit, showing those buyers what you’ve got. Whilst in the WP dashboard in the left hand menu you should now see a tab titled ‘Products’.
The WooCommerce plugin accounts for various types of products, so you should find a category that suits your needs. There are simple products (i.e. one size, one colour) group products (multiple variants of the product) and virtual/downloadable products (i.e. eBooks, Music, etc.) It is important when adding the product that you select the correct product type, otherwise the front-end display of your goods might not work.
Then you need to give your product a stock-keeping unit (SKU.) This is the identifying code for keeping track of stock levels and sales and needs to be unique to each product.
Then you can go ahead and add your price. As mentioned before, WooCommerce automatically assigns a currency depending on your store location, but this can be changed if you so wish.
Then it’s time – and this one is super important – to add super high quality images of your products (from several different angles if possible) to entice those buyers in and help showcase your stock. You can add different functions here too, for example you can create ‘on hover’ image changes so that perhaps when the user hovers their cursor on the image of a t-shirt, the image flips and shows them the reverse side. Clever, huh? It is also really important at this stage for you to add alt-tags to all of your images (an alt-tag is the text that shows when the image cannot be displayed for some reason) to ensure the best possible SEO for your products!
All that’s left to do from here is save that product and publish it!
After that you can create categories and choose layout variations to best suit your product if you wish, but generally WooCommerce does a pretty sterling job on it’s own!
If you are not sure about getting started on your own, then please do give us a call. We are a London based web design agency, and one of our specialists will be more than happy to help get your WooCommerce London shop online!