There’s a reason why WooCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms out there today. It’s versatile, so whether you want to sell online courses, physical products or memberships, you can do it on WooCommerce.
If you want to create a highly customized store, you can do that too, thanks to the platform’s many plugins and the fact that it’s open-source. Plus, regular updates help keep WooCommerce secure.
Once you’ve done your homework and decided that you want to jump on the WooCommerce bandwagon and open a WordPress eCommerce website, you might be eager to just build it and get your site up and running as soon as possible. And I don’t blame you! I know that once I decide to do something, I want to do it right away. I don’t like waiting around.
But before you dive headfirst into the deep end, dip your feet in the waters. Because before opening a WordPress eCommerce website with WooCommerce, there are several things that you should do (five, to be exact).
1. Evaluate Your Products and Order Volume
Before doing anything, you should think about whether or not WooCommerce really is the best option for your business. How many products are you selling and what’s your order volume going to be like?
If you’re only going to have five products and expecting maybe one to ten orders a week, then WooCommerce might be a bit much, since there is also a good deal of maintenance that comes with running your own WooCommerce store.
If you’re expecting your store to be lower-performing, you could start with something like Shopify or something even simpler, like PayPal, to avoid the maintenance overhead. Then once you open your shop and get a better feel for how your store will perform, you can reevaluate and switch platforms if necessary.
2. Get Support
Whether you’re planning on building your WooCommerce store yourself or hiring a WooCommerce developer team to build it for you, you’re going to want (and need) to have some support.
If you want to hire a developer or an agency, make sure you choose wisely. Make sure that whoever you are working with has experience creating WooCommerce stores or at least can show proof of their capabilities. They should also know how to develop WooCommerce extensions and custom themes. They should have a way to keep your store secure and backed up, especially as they are customizing and updating plugins.
If you are planning on building your store yourself, know that you’ll have your work cut out for you. You will likely encounter some roadblocks along the way, so make sure that you have a support system set up for when that happens.
WooCommerce has a help desk available to answer any questions you may have. Otherwise, you might be able to find the answer you’re looking for in the many different WooCommerce forums or the WooCommerce Slack group. Just think about whether or not this kind of support will be sufficient for your needs.
3. Consider Maintenance Required
It would be nice if all the work was done once you set up your WooCommerce store. But unfortunately, that’s just not the case.
In order to keep your site secure, you’ll have to update WooCommerce Core (WooCommerce without the extensions) or your WooCommerce extensions whenever updates become available.
When updating extensions, we recommend only updating one at a time; that way, if something happens during the update, you’ll know which extension is the culprit.
On top of the regular updates, you’ll also have to maintain your orders and make sure that they are getting processed. And if there is a security issue on your site, you might be responsible for getting that figured out yourself.
Before opening your WooCommerce store, think about how you plan to maintain it. Will you do it all yourself or hire someone to take care of your store for you?
4. Find a Hosting Provider
Your website host is a place where all of your website data is stored. It’s essentially like a Google Drive for your store.
Choose a hosting provider that can scale with your store and one that is familiar with WooCommerce. If you choose a bad hosting provider or sign up for a cheap plan, your hosting provider might not be able to handle all of the orders you get (depending on how big your store is).
Personally, we’re pretty big fans of WP Engine, because you can upgrade and downgrade your server on a month-to-month basis and easily transfer your site from one server to another.
5. Research and Evaluate Extensions
A big part of WooCommerce are all of the extensions that the platform provides. Do some research to find the best extensions for your store.
But you can’t just install any old plugin on your store and then let it sit. Not all extensions are going to have chemistry with your store, and some are simply not built to scale with a store on a large size.
For that reason, each plugin that you download on your site must be evaluated before installation. Otherwise, your site might not accept it and your site will be at risk of crashing.
So how do you evaluate plugins? We test everything (including plugin updates) on a staging site before we actually implement and move forward with development. That way, if a certain plugin doesn’t work with the store, we know not to proceed.
If you find that a certain plugin doesn’t work with your store, you might have to build a custom plugin. It may be a bit more of a hassle to do this, but the good news is that when everything is custom, you generally have less performance issues.
WooCommerce has a great deal to offer, but there’s a lot to know and many things that can go wrong if you rush in and build a site without forethought. Those waters are deep, so make sure that you dip your feet in the water before diving in headfirst.
To recap, make sure that you do these five things before opening a WordPress eCommerce website with WooCommerce:
1. Evaluate your products and order volume
2. Get support
3. Consider the maintenance your store will require
4. Find a good hosting provider
5. Research and evaluate extensions for your store
If you follow those steps, then you’re that much closer to building the WooCommerce store of your dreams. Want to sit back, relax and let us take over everything for you? Give us a shout!