In 2016, eCommerce sales in the United States reached $396 billion, and by 2020, the ecommerce market is expected to grow to a whopping $684 billion. Clearly, this is a better time than any to materialize that online shop idea that you’ve been always putting on the back burner.
With today’s diversified set of eCommerce solutions and tools, the process of launching an online store has been greatly simplified to the point where even first-time users can have a go at it with minimal effort.
Build on WordPress
Depending on your approach to creating an online shop, you may be faced with choosing between two possibilities: going for an integrated ecommerce platform solution, where most technical and hosting aspects are already dealt with for a recurring monthly fee (e.g. Weebly or Volusion), or choosing a self-hosted platform for enhanced flexibility and full control over all aspects of your online shop. If you’re not a fan of monthly commitments and the lack of full flexibility, a self-hosted eCommerce solution is your best bet.
As an all-purpose content management system, WordPress has the capability to power any type of website, and that includes eCommerce sites as well.
If you’ve used WordPress before – either for a blog or other type of website – you’re probably aware of its many strengths. WordPress is ubiquitous on the web, being the CMS of choice of many websites. Whether its advantages are analyzed from an SEO perspective, a usability or flexibility standpoint, WordPress fares well in all these categories.
WordPress is built with content consumption in mind (text, images, videos, pictures, etc.). But what about eCommerce? Does WordPress have what it takes to handle the specific reality of ecommerce sites?
A main feature of any online shop is the paywall that sits between the products/services offered and consumers. But other features like payment gateways, order processing, inventory management, shipping rate calculation, product catalogs, discount coupons, product reviews, etc. are also features that you may need for running an online store.
What Shopping Cart to Choose?
WordPress doesn’t come out-of-the-box with these features, however, you can obtain these features via plugins. This is where shopping carts come in handy to help you add eCommerce functionality to your site.
As a free, open-source shopping cart plugin built expressly for WordPress, WooCommerce will help you monetize your existing WordPress site or build a tailor-made online shop.
Here are some of the greatest advantages of choosing WooCommerce to create an online shop:
- Great for any size: WooCommerce is suitable for any small or large online shop, providing a smooth purchasing experience irrespective of the size of your store.
- Mobile-friendly: With the growing number of mobile shoppers, optimizing your online store to offer an outstanding shopping experience for mobile-oriented shoppers as well is another strength of WooCommerce, and an aspect that certainly won’t go unnoticed by search engines.
- Suitable for any profile: WooCommerce facilitates the selling of any product – digital or physical. You can add shipping and tax calculator thanks to WooCommerce’s geo-location support.
- Built with SEO in mind: Running on WordPress, WooCommerce benefits from its SEO best practices.
- Out-of-the-box payment capabilities: There are five in-built payment gateways (Direct Bank Transfer, Cheque Payment, Cash on Delivery, PayPal, and Simplify Commerce for US), and several more available as extensions (Amazon Payments, Stripe, Authorize.net, etc.).
- Lots of core features and extensions: You can benefit from a long list of core features (inventory management, several checkout options, shipping options, discounts and coupons, etc.) and extensions (Product Add-ons for selling custom products, WooSubscription for selling subscription products and services, WooCommerce Bookings for online appointments scheduling, etc.), which allows virtually endless possibilities for you to customize the shopping experience of your clientele.
- Design galore: WooCommerce is not only highly functional, but also an excellent platform to amaze your customers with eye-candy design. Whether you want to integrate WooCommerce with a WordPress theme or you’re choosing a free or premium WooTheme, there are virtually no limits to what you can achieve.
What is PCI Compliance? What should you know about PCI compliance as an online shop owner?
What Host to Choose for WooCommerce?
For the most part, the hosting needs of an online store are very different from that of a regular website or blog. The type of hosting you choose is shaped by factors like the size of your online shop, the traffic it gets, and the nature of customer information that you handle.
When it comes to eCommerce, you need to shift your thinking from traditional shared hosting plans to eCommerce optimized solutions and VPS plans. (Must Read: Why you should not use shared hosting for online store?)
If you’re running a large shop, with thousands of products, a VPS hosting plan will take into account the special requirements (high availability, extra resources, higher security, better performance, scalability, etc.) your store may need to deliver the best shopping experience for your clients.
As a WordPress endorsed hosting provider, BlueHost offers their customers four VPS hosting plans – Standard, Enhanced, Premium, and Ultimate – that are built from the ground up on cloud technology, so you can enjoy more control, increased flexibility and more power for your site.
Depending on the plan you choose, you can get up to 4 CPU cores, 240 GB SAN storage, 8 GB RAM, 4 TB bandwidth, 1 free domain name, 2 IP addresses, and 24/7 support. These VPS plans also come with cPanel included, dynamic resources (possibility to add more resources on the fly), SSH access with root permission, SSL and many other features for a truly transformative hosting experience.
Costs for VPS plans at BlueHost range between $19.99/month for the entry-level VPS plan and $59.99/month for the Ultimate plan.
Smaller online shops with lower traffic may also benefit from BlueHost’s WooCommerce optimized plans that come with WooCommerce pre-installed, dedicated support line, 1 free domain name, unmetered website space and bandwidth, SpamExperts, Domain Privacy and SiteBackup Pro in some of the plans, SSL certificate, dedicated IP and marketing offers included with all plans. WooCommerce optimized hosting plans start at only $11.95/month.
Create Your Web Store Now!
Setup your WooCommerce online store with BlueHost and start selling today!
BlueHost is not quite what you are looking for? Check out our list of top 5 recommended WooCommerce hosting providers for more alternatives.
If the ability to customize and have full control over all aspects of your online shop sounds like something right up your alley, WooCommerce is the right platform for you. With WooCommerce harnessing the SEO advantage and functionality of WordPress, you can easily draw on these benefits to add an eCommerce component to your already existing WordPress site or even create an online shop from scratch.