If you’re a fan of WordPress, WooCommerce should be the natural solution when it comes to setting up an online store. The platform offers almost all of the functionality you need to sell products online, but learning how to actually set up WooCommerce is arguably the most complicated aspect of using the plugin.

WooCommerce ships with lots of features, but not all of them are critical to getting your store up and running. In fact, all you need to know to start your foray into e-commerce is how to configure the platform, then add new items to it.

In this article, we’ll take you from finding the perfect web host to getting your first product up, in four simple steps. Let’s take it from the top!

An introduction to WooCommerce

The WooCommerce homepage.

WooCommerce is a robust e-commerce platform built on top of the WordPress Content Management System (CMS). It features all the same attributes that makes its parent so popular, including ease-of-use and stellar customization options.

If you’re looking to set up an online store on a budget, or even power a large enterprise, WooCommerce could be ideal. When coupled with the right web host (which we’ll discuss in a bit) and its powerful extension system, there’s little WooCommerce can’t do.

How to set up WooCommerce (in 4 steps)

Learning how to set up WooCommerce is relatively straightforward. Much like WordPress, WooCommerce offers a simple setup process. However, there’s more to getting a store up and running than just installing the platform. Let’s take a look at what you need to get started.

Step #1: Find adequate hosting

The first step to a successful WooCommerce store is to potentially reassess your web hosting. Since WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, you’ll want to focus on a host that’s tailored to the platform – aka a WordPress hosting package. These types of web hosts are optimized to provide the best WordPress experience from a security and performance standpoint – both of which are critical for e-commerce.

In the past, we’ve written in-depth reviews for several WordPress hosts, here are some of our top picks for you:

  1. InMotion Review for WordPress Hosting.
  2. A2 Hosting Review for WordPress.
  3. HostGator WordPress Hosting Review.

If none of the above are right for you, check out our extensive WordPress hosting survey. It covers all the best-known names in the field and should provide you with all of the information you need to make a decision.

Step #2: Install WooCommerce

Once you have a host worthy of WordPress and an e-commerce store, the next step is to set up WooCommerce. Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, you’ll come to the WooCommerce setup wizard – so click on Let’s Go when you’re ready to begin. The wizard will automatically create shop, cart, checkout, and user account pages for your store. Then, it’ll enable you to configure your store’s basic settings, including which currency to use:

The option to choose your store's currency.

On the next screen, you can choose whether to charge a sales tax, and determine whether you’re going to require any shipping features:

You WooCommerce shipping and tax settings.

Finally, you can configure which payment methods you want to accept. WooCommerce only supports PayPal and Stripe out of the box, but you can add further gateways using extensions:

The two payment processors that WooCommerce supports out of the box.

At this stage, we’re ready to add our first product. However, there’s still one step to cover before doing so.

Step #3: Find a theme for your store

WordPress themes are probably one of the top reasons the platform is so popular. They enable you to style your website to match the pros – for a fraction of the cost that an agency would charge – and they come in all shapes and sizes.

However, you’ll need to be particularly careful about the theme you choose. For the best experience, you’ll want a WooCommerce-specific theme – meaning one that’s been optimized to work specifically with the platform, and offering features, functionality, and design options tailored to creating your store.

The official WooCommerce website is teeming with themes optimized for the platform, such as Storefront:

The Storefront theme.

You can also find some excellent premium themes under ThemeForest’s WooCommerce section, and installing your chosen one is exactly the same as any other WordPress theme.

Now we’ve set up WooCommerce and found a suitable theme, it’s time to add our first product.

Step #4: Add your first WooCommerce product

To get started, go to your WordPress dashboard and find the new Product tab. Clicking on it will bring up a new page with the option to add your first product:

The option to add a new product to WooCommerce.

Click on the giant purple button, and you’ll find yourself in front of the WordPress editor. This is where the magic happens. First things first, let’s set a name and a basic description for our test product:

Your product's name and description.

Now scroll down to the Product Data widget, and check the Virtual box if your product isn’t physical. Otherwise, leave the default settings as they are, and proceed to set a price for your item:

An example of setting a product's price.

If you’re adding a regular product, you’ll also want to include its dimensions and weight under the Shipping tab, located right below:

Your product's shipping options.

Finally, we need to add a featured image for our product, and include any other relevant photographs in its respective gallery. To do that, you’ll have to use the Product Image and Product Gallery meta boxes, to the right of Product Data:

The option to set images for your products.

Upload all of the images you’ll need, then hit the Publish button at the top of the page. Now pour yourself a celebratory cup of coffee – we’ve successfully set up WooCommerce and our first product!

Conclusion

WooCommerce can be an intimidating platform for new e-commerce users, but it needn’t be. As long as you focus on getting your first product up and ready to be sold, you’ll have an online store running in no time. Everything you do after that is simply an extension of adding a product.

Here are the four steps you need to cover to set up WooCommerce:

  1. Find an e-commerce focused WordPress web host (if you haven’t already).
  2. Install WooCommerce.
  3. Look for a suitable theme for your store.
  4. Add your first physical or digital product.

Do you have any questions about how to set up WooCommerce for the first time? Ask away in the comments section below!