I’ve built e-commerce sites for clients, I’ve developed e-commerce software, and I’ve lead 3 WooCommerce releases. So it’s safe to say I’m pretty into e-commerce & WooCommerce.
WooCommerce has a great welcome wizard that helps you setup all of the basic settings. But then where do you go from there? I like to help store owners get customers by maximizing acquisition channels (Google, Facebook, email marketing, trade shows, etc).
And once you start getting customers to your site it’s time to start improving your conversion rates. I have posts about social proof, video marketing, membership sites, and all sorts of things.
Once you get customers it’s time to retain those customers. That means offering loyalty programs & getting them on a newsletter so you can continue to provide value to them and you stay top of mind.
One of the best reasons to use WooCommerce is that it's a fully featured e-commerce platform and it's open source. That means you can customize every. single. line of code. If you don't like the way something works you can change it or you can hire a developer to change it for you. It's great knowing that as your business grows your software will grow with you.
There are two ways of changing the way WooCommerce works:
Adding & removing hooks
Both of these methods are good at different things so I'll share when is an appropriate time to use each of them.
In WooCommerce when you add a product to your cart the product page refreshes with a little banner confirming you added the item to the cart.
The “added to cart” notice in WooCommerce
This is useful for big e-commerce stores like Amazon where users are likely to buy multiple items with every checkout. But this isn't useful for every retailer. Some retailers sell very different products and users rarely buy more than one at a time. For example if you sell computer desks like Rebel Desk (yes they totally use WooCommerce) it's unlikely that someone will buy more than desk. And in that case it may help your users to redirect them to another page. Maybe the shop page, maybe a specific category, or maybe directly to the checkout. With a snippet of code you can do that in WooCommerce.
Being able to organize your store however you want is one of the best parts about using WooCommerce. You could stick with the default ordering functionality or you may want to customize it a bit for your store. Maybe you want to remove the option to sort by price, or you want to remove the sorting all together (because you only have 5 products), or you want to add a whole new way to sort. That's all possible with WooCommerce.
The other day I received this question from a WooCommerce user:
I have virtual products in my store but I still want to collect the shipping information from my customers so that I can mail them a card at the end of the year. But a cart with virtual products automatically hides the shipping information on the checkout page. How can I force it to show up?
In my last post I talked about customizing the style of WooCommerce emails. But brands are more than just logos & colors. A brand is a combination of every experience from each of your customers. That includes the text they read on your site.
There are 269 free WooCommerce themes on WordPress.org which is amazing. And many of them are absolutely gorgeous. And while many of them are gorgeous there is one aspect that developers leave out. And that is making sure that WooCommerce email styles match the theme. As a store owner you want to have a unified experience. Unfortunately in most cases no matter what colors your theme has your emails tend to look like this:
The standard New Customer email for WooCommerce
That won't work well if your theme is like my blog's theme: big header, a vibrant purple, and my face in the header. The emails don't resemble that at all.
Luckily there are two good solutions to this problem. The first is a plugin and the second, for savvy developers, is to use custom code.
Just over one year ago I released the WooCommerce Cookbook and I heard from lots of store owners about how much they liked it. And after hearing the feedback I decided to create something a bit less technical and more abstract. Something that would help people understand the fundamentals of e-commerce. Several months later I'm proud to say that I published WordPress eCommerce on Lynda.com.
The course covers everything you need to think about before you build an e-commerce site for yourself or for a client:
Understanding Your Market
Marketing Your Site
Shipping & Orders & Taxes
Securing Your Site
Using WordPress for eCommerce
Testing & Optimization
This is a video course so all of the lessons include me showing example sites and visual aids. It's over an hour long so there's plenty for you to digest before you make your first e-commerce site. Chapters 3 & 4 go into lots of detail about the types of products you can sell and the best way to do it. Ex. How can I sell a monthly subscription box? And which way is best?
I created this course is because e-commerce is no longer limited by technology. You aren't spending your time figuring out technical problems. The technology is relatively straight forward and as a store owner or a developer building a store for a client you have to figure out marketing & positioning problems to make sure that your product solves a need and that people can find it.
Only once you know that people really want to buy your product and you can get them to your site do you worry about the technical problems.
I also cover third party platforms that can integrate in your WordPress site such as Gumroad, Clickbank, and Shopify.
If you're a store owner this course will make you ask questions about your product market fit and what you need to do to sell as many widgets as possible.
If you're a developer you will learn all of the same lessons which you can pass along to your clients and make them successful. Building a $10,000 site is great but it's even better if you can build the right site for $10,000 and get more work next year after your client's product makes a killing. 🙂
If you're detail oriented you might notice that this course actually came out last summer! I held off on the announcement of this post because it came out right around the time of the WooThemes acquisition and I was quite busy with all of that. Not a good excuse I know but better late than never right?
WooCommerce is a fully featured e-commerce solution and you can do just about anything with it. But just because you can doesn't mean you should. Many businesses aren't ready for run an e-commerce site. Maybe they can't increase inventory fast enough, they don't have a good fulfillment system setup, or they just aren't ready to take their business online.
When this happens WooCommerce can still be really useful to show off your products to your customers. There are categories, tags, filters, multiple tabs, video tabs, 360-degree images, and all sorts of other really useful features you can use to help customers browser your catalog. The only thing you have to do is disable that Add to Cart button and replace it with a Call to Order button. There are two good ways of doing this. The first is to use a plugin and the second is to code it yourself. I'll show you how to do both.
One of the questions I get asked all the time is, “how do I change the color of the Add to Cart button in WooCommerce?” And depending on what theme you have it could be as easy as clicking a few buttons in the WordPress customizer or if you're creating a theme from scratch you'll have to write a bit of CSS. I'll show you all of the options below.
One of the most exciting aspects of working on an open-source platform is how fast things can change. And if you want to make something happen you can just do it. This happened just last week and I couldn't be happier.