How To Create An Online Store

E-commerce plugin

A fully functioning online store is the cornerstone of any business trying to sell products on a website. To create an Internet shop is usually very expensive as you need to hire designers to work on the site, the functionality and the custom design.

WordPress to the rescue

Building an online store with WordPress is much more cost efficient. With it as your platform you can create a very successful e-shop for a fraction of normal cost. It is free and open-source. It features a wide range of plugins, most of them free, including several e-store plugins. Using e-commerce plugin with WordPress allows you to add catalog, cart and billing functionality to your webstore, building a fully-functional shop that can drive your brick and mortar product sales, or sales of online services and digital downloads.

With WordPress you can sell anything online without needing a third-party to take a part of your profits. WordPress allows you to create a shopping area where you can upload products for sale, visitors can add those products to their shopping carts, and pay directly via their Paypal account or their credit card. Building your store within WordPress means that both your website and your store have the same design, usability and user-friendliness. Unlike some e-commerce solutions that look and feel totally different than the main website, in WordPress your visitors experience the same design from your main page to the checkout.

Create an e-commerce shop – Step-by-Step

Here is the step-by-step process of creating your online store with WordPress:

  • Install WordPress
  • Install WP e-Commerce plugin

There is a wide variety of e-commerce plugins in WordPress, ranging from simple to very advanced, from free to commercial. WP e-Commerce is the most popular WordPress store plugin and has been downloaded by more than 1.9 million business owners. In Plugins of your WordPress Admin area, download and activate WP e-Commerce.

  • Customize your store settings

Activating the plugin will add “Store” in your “Settings” WordPress admin navigation tab. This area allows you to customize your store. Everything from your target markets, currency settings, and store presentation, to checkout, shipping and payments is customizable via a simple interface.

  • Add products to your store

“Products” section has been added to your WordPress admin navigation as well. This is where you add the products into your store. Again everything is customizable via a familiar WordPress interface: product name, image, description and price. In case your are selling physical products there are options from shipping weight and charges to stock control.

  • Add widgets for better shopping experience

In “Appearance” in your WordPress admin click on “Widgets”. You will notice several shopping related widgets have been added to your options: Latest Products, Product Categories etc.

Shopping Cart widget is the one you should activate to help your customers. This widgets allows you to display information such as products in shopping cart, prices and quantities. Just like Amazon.com or any other online store.

Simply drag and drop the Shopping Cart into your sidebar.

When you optimize all the Store settings and add your products, your actual store will be on yourdomain.com/products-page/. That’s it, your store is ready.

Let us assume that you have competitive pricing within your niche and that you have decent conversion rates on the traffic you currently receive. That is great to hear, but the problem is your site is out-ranked by the big retailers and other competitors in your niche. When reviewing the BrandKey Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, you will see that brands such as Amazon, Zappos.com, Domino’s, JetBlue have the most loyal customers within their respected industries. In terms of marketing strategy, what do all of these brands have in kind? Customer Engagement and Transparency.

All of these brands focus on providing solutions to their customers above all else. Zappos and JetBlue are leaders in customer service; they engage with and listen to their customers in order to improve their services. While you might not have the advertising budgets as these companies’, you certainly can budget for the development of a web page, your online window to your niche and its customers. Discover what your audience will consider “awesome” and then waste no time in fulfilling that demand. Then the sales will be coming.