Setting Up WooCommerce

The WooCommerce plugin for WordPress is probably the world’s simplest way to build an online store, and this brilliant tutorial makes it easier still. Use your existing knowledge of PHP and WordPress to get selling, fast.

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

So, you're already familiar with WordPress and know how to use plugins, widgets, and themes? Your next step is to expand your existing WordPress website or blog with an online store? In that case you've come to the right place!

WooCommerce is a versatile plugin for WordPress, that gives the possibility for everyone with a little WordPress knowledge to start their own online store.

In case you are not familiar with WordPress at all, this book is not the first one you should read. No worries though, WordPress isn't that hard to learn and there are tons of online possibilities to learn about the WordPress solution very quickly. Or just turn to one of the many printed books on WordPress that are available.

These are the topics we'll be covering in this article:

  • Installing and activating WooCommerce
  • Learn everything about setting up WooCommerce correctly

Preparing for takeoff

Before we start, remember that it's only possible to install your own plugins if you're working in your own WordPress installation. This means that users running a website on WordPress.com will not be able to follow along. It's simply impossible in that environment to install plugins yourself.

Although installing WooCommerce on top of WordPress isn't difficult, we highly recommend that you set up a test environment first. Without going too much into depth, this is what you need to do:

  • Create a backup copy of your complete WordPress environment using FTP. Alternatively use a plugin to store a copy into your Dropbox folder automatically. There are tons of solutions available, just pick your own favorite. UpDraftPlus is one of the possibilities and delivers a complete backup solution: http://wordpress.org/plugins/updraftplus/.
  • Don't forget to backup your WordPress database as well. You may do this using a tool like phpMyAdmin and create an export from there. But also in this case, there are plugins that make life easier. The UpDraftPlus plugin mentioned previously can perform this task as well.
  • Once your backups are complete, install XAMPP on a local (Windows) machine that can be downloaded from http://www.apachefriends.org. Although XAMPP is available for Mac users, MAMP is a widely used alternative for this group. MAMP can be downloaded from http://www.mamp.info/en/index.html. Restore your WordPress backup on your test server and start following the remaining part of this book in your new test environment.
  • Alternatively, install a copy of your WordPress website as a temporary subdomain at your hosting provider. For instance, if my website is http://www.example.com, I could easily create a copy of my site in http://test.example.com. Possibilities may vary, depending on the package you have with your hosting provider.
  • If in your situation it isn't needed to add WooCommerce to an existing WordPress site, of course you may also start from scratch. Just install WordPress on a local test server or install it at your hosting provider. To keep our instructions in this book as clear as possible we did just that. We created a fresh installation of WordPress Version 3.6. Next, you see a screenshot of our fresh WordPress installation:

    Are these short instructions just too much for you at this moment? Do you need a more detailed step-by-step guide to create a test environment for your WordPress website? Look at the following tutorials:

    For Max OSX users: http://wpmu.org/local-wordpresstest-environment-mamp-osx/

    For Windows users: http://www.thegeekscope.com/howto-copy-a-live-wordpress-website-to-local-indowsenvironment/

    More tutorials will also be available on our website: http://www.joomblocks.com

    Don't forget to sign up for the free Newsletter, that will bring you even more news and tutorials on WordPress, WooCommerce, and other open source software solutions!

Once ready, we'll be able to take the next step and install the WooCommerce plugin. Let's take a look at our WordPress backend. In our situation we can open this by browsing to http://localhost/wp36/wp-admin. Depending on the choices you made previously for your test environment, your URL could be different.

Well, this should all be pretty familiar for you already. Again, your situation might look different, depending on your theme or the number of plugins already active for your website.

Installing WooCommerce

Installing a plugin is a fairly simple task:

  1. Click on Plugins in the menu on the left and click on Add New.
  2. Next, simply enter woocommerce in the Search field and click on Search Plugins.

  3. Verify if the correct plugin is shown on top and click on Install Now. Confirm the warning message that appears by clicking on OK.

  4. Click on Activate Plugin. Note that in the following screenshot, we're installing Version 2.0.13 of WooCommerce. New versions will follow rather quickly, so you might already see a higher version number.

  5. WooCommerce needs to have a number of specific WordPress pages, that it automatically will setup for you. Just click on the Install WooCommerce Pages button and make sure not to forget this step!

    In our example project, we're installing the English version of WooCommerce. But you might need a different language. By default, WooCommerce is already delivered in a number of languages. This means the installation will automatically follow the language of your WordPress installation. If you need something else, just browse through the plugin directory on WordPress.org to find any additional translations.

  6. Once we have created the necessary pages, the WooCommerce welcome screen will appear and you will see a new menu item has been added to the main menu on the left.

  7. Meanwhile the plugin created the necessary pages, that you can access by clicking on Pages in the menu on the left.

Note that if you open a page that was automatically created by WooCommerce, you'll only see a shortcode, which is used to call the needed functionality. Do not delete the shortcodes, or WooCommerce might stop working. However, it's still possible to add your own content before or after the shortcode on these pages.

WooCommerce also added some widgets to your WordPress dashboard, giving an overview of the latest product and sales statistics. At this moment this is all still empty of course.

Summary

In this article, we learned about the basics of WooCommerce and installing the same. We also learned that WooCommerce is a free but versatile plugin for WordPress, that you may use to easily set up your own online store.

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