What is WooCommerce? Mega Guide about this CMS

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So, you are about to create a webpage for your eCommerce.

And you are thinking about using WooCommerce, the platform for WordPress online shops. But you have some questions.

  • What are its features? What are the pros and cons?
  • What’s the difference between WooCommerce and other options such as PrestaShop, Shopify and Magento?
  • Is it easy to install and set up?
  • What plug-ins should you use?

We will be answering all of these in this mega guide.

We will also show examples of other online shops made with WooCommerce, so that you can see how much potential the platform has.

Here we go!

👉 What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is a WordPress plug-in.

It means that, in order to create an online shop with WooCommerce you need to:

  • Install WordPress to your server and change the main settings.
  • Download WooCommerce’s plug-in and install.

Once the plug-in is set, you will have the same basic functions as other CMS for eCommerce such as PrestaShop, Magento o Shopify:

  • Creating product cards.
  • Shopping cart system.
  • Implementing forms of payment (debit or credit card, PayPal, Stripe, etc.)
  • Order tracking.
  • Etc.

But let’s dig into the features a little more…

👉 What are WooCommerce Platform pros and cons? These are its main features.

Good news first.

✅ 1. Pros

➡️ Very easy to use

WordPress is a CMS well-known for its usability.

It’s designed so that anyone can operate it, even if you haven’t created a webpage before.

The same thing applies to WooCommerce.

Don’t worry if technology isn’t your thing. With this platform, designing your online shop will be a breeze.

➡️ Perfect for SEO

Another one of WordPress’ strengths is that it’s one of the best CMS for SEO positioning.

This means it comes with adjusted technical settings so that your web may easily show up as one of the first results on Google.

This is important, since better positioning = more visits for your web = more customers. 😉

➡️ It’s an open-source code (free)

We aren’t kidding.

WooCommerce is an open-source plug-in, which means it’s accessible to every user for free.

And not just that.

Open source means you can:

  • Modify as much as you want.
  • Integrate it with any other tool (like a CRM, a PIM…).

But remember, you will need a programmer or a web developer to take care of the more advanced settings.

➡️ A huge number of templates to choose from

WordPress is one of the most widely used CMS in the world.

Because of that, there are thousands of templates specially designed for this platform.

And, in most cases, these templates are suitable for WooCommerce.

It’s (almost) impossible not to find at least one that fits the aesthetic you want for your shop.

➡️ Wide variety of plug-ins

Again, the number of plug-ins for WooCommerce is really wide, so you can easily find what you need (besides, many of them are also free).

Later, we will take a look at some of the most interesting ones.

✅ 2. Cons

➡️ Too depending on plug-ins

WooCommerce functions are very basic.

This makes it incredible easy to use… but it also forces you to install other plug-ins in order to have advanced features.

Is that bad?

Depends. 

Having only a few is fine. But having too many plug-ins active at the same time can slow your web’s loading speed.

Watch out: It takes a lot of installed and active plug-ins for that to happen, but you need to watch out.

➡️ You need a developer to make the most of it

Just as we were saying.

An open-source platform comes with great flexibility. But in order to take advantage of it you may need to hire a web programmer (unless you already have one).

Watch out: This only applies if you want advanced modifications.

Otherwise, this shouldn’t be a problem for your shop in a normal day. 

👉 [Comparison] Differences between WooCommerce CMS and the 3 most popular eCommerce CMS

Right now, you may be thinking:

I can see WooCommerce has some good points. But is it a good choice for my online shop? Should I find another platform?”

To help you figure it out, we compared WooCommerce to these eCommerce CMS.

Listen.

✅ 1. PrestaShop VS. WooCommerce

Unlike WordPress, PrestaShop is a CMS, engineered ad hoc for online shops.

This specialization can sometimes be noticeable (in both good and bad ways).

Let’s dive into it:

  • Usability: When it comes to this, WooCommerce is far better. Although PrestaShop makes it easy to create product cards for your web, some of its aspects (such as page design or blog management) are a little cumbersome.
  • Plug-in variety: WooCommerce has a huge variety of free plug-ins. On the other hand, PrestaShop’s “modules” or plug-ins are not free and can even be highly priced.
  • Personalization: Both platforms have many different customization options for your online shop. However, WooCommerce is also better at this because of its freedom (open source) and its huge variety of templates.
  • Price: WooCommerce and PrestaShop are both free to use. The difference, as we were saying, is that PrestaShop’s modules are not.

Moving on to the next comparison.

✅ 2. Magento VS. WooCommerce

Like WooCommerce, Magento is also an open-source platform. 

But there are some key differences between them:

  • Usability: WooCommerce is engineered for amateur users, meanwhile Magento is less intuitive and needs complex technical settings.
  • Plug-in variety: Magento has a great variety of extensions, but most of them are considerably expensive.
  • Personalization: Since they are both open-source, Magento and WooCommerce’s customization is almost limitless.
  • Price: Both platforms are free to use, but Magento also has a premium version with advanced options.

Magento is highly recommended for an eCommerce with great traffic and abundant orders. If you are just starting your online shop, WooCommerce’s functions will be more than enough.

✅ 3. Shopify VS. WooCommerce

Shopify isn’t a CMS, strictly speaking. It’s a software for creating online shops.

Which means that, when hiring a Shopify plan, the platform takes care of every single technical setting (you can’t even choose your own host).

Sometimes that’s good, but others not so much. Let’s make a comparison to what WooCommerce offers:

  • Usability: Both are fairly intuitive, but Shopify is slightly better in this aspect (mostly because the platform takes care of everything technical on its own).
  • Plug-in variety: A win for WooCommerce, because of its much bigger catalogue.
  • Personalization: Since WooCommerce is open source, you are free to customize your shop to your liking. Shopify limits you to only the platform’s own options (still many).
  • Price: This is Shopify’s main con. While WooCommerce is free to use, Shopify is paid-for only, with mandatory monthly payment plans.

Shopify is meant for users who want an online shop with zero knowledge. If you have a basic understanding, you can save a lot of money with WooCommerce.

👉 [Step-by-step tutorial] How to create a shop using WooCommerce CMS

It’s simple.

Firstly, you need to download WooCommerce’s plug-in (find it here) and install it to WordPress, just like with any plug-in.

Up until now, everything is automatic. Once WooCommerce is installed, you can start shaping your shop.

✅ Activate WooCommerce

After installing, next to WooCommerce’s plug-in you will see the option to “activate plug-in.” Click it and accept the requirements.

Once it is done, you will see in WordPress’ “Pages” section there are 4 new pages:

  • Homepage.
  • Shopping cart.
  • Checkout.
  • Client area (where users can manage their data and orders).

The pages’ designs will vary depending on the template you are using.

Which is the next thing we will be looking at…

✅ Choosing a template

By default, WordPress uses a very basic, free template. Ideally, you should invest in a more advanced, paid-for template that will make your shop look more professional.

Keep this in mind.

Even though all of WordPress’ templates can be used with WooCommerce, some of them aren’t 100% compatible.

Better safe than sorry. You should find templates specifically meant for WooCommerce’s online shops. 

✅ Adjust WooCommerce’s basic aspects

Now, let’s review the main tabs in the plug-in’s “Settings” section:

➡️ ‘General’ tab

Specify the country (or countries if your eCommerce is international) where you are selling, as well as the currency. 

Besides, in this section you can activate coupon usage.

➡️ ‘Products’ tab 

In this section, you can set the following details for your catalogue:

  • General: Where you specify measurement units (kilos, centimeters, etc.) and other options, such as if users can comment.
  • Inventory: In this sub-tab, you can activate stock management so that WooCommerce can automatically assess how many units of each product are left.
  • Downloadable items: To adjust settings about file download.

There’s more.

➡️ ‘Shipments’ tab

Here, you can activate a calculator, so that the shipping cost is automatically determined when the customer writes their address.

This is also where you set what address is used by default: the client’s one or the billing one (when different).

➡️ ‘Payment’ tab

WooCommerce is 100% integrated with PayPal. And, of course, it also allows the main payment method (credit/debit card, on delivery, bank transfer…)

Other than these, you can add other eCommerce payment gateways.

➡️ ‘Accounts and privacy’ tab

In this tab, you can:

  • Allow shopping from a guest account.
  • Customize account creation options.

There are more, but these are the main ones to get your shop started.

👉 Enter your products

Now that you have your shop’s outline, how about you start creating products for your catalogue?

It’s very simple.

On the left side menu of WordPress, select “Products / Add new”:

When you do that, a screen will ask for:

  • A title (the product name).
  • Description.
  • One or more selected images.
  • The category (or categories) for the product.
  • Tags.
  • Product information (here you can add color/size/material variations and such).
  • Inventory (to let WooCommerce know how much stock you have).
  • Allow backorders.
  • Linked products, which enhances cross-selling.
  • Product features.

Easy, right?

👉 Extra: 5 useful WooCommerce plug-ins for your online shop

We were saying that WooCommerce is a platform with very basic options and that, in order to have extra functions, you will need other plug-ins.

To make it easy for you, we made a list of some that are essential at the beginning.

➡️ WooCommerce customizer: personalize your shop’s buttons

This plug-in lets you change:

  • text
  • and aspect

for your online shop’s secondary elements. And without code modifications!

With this plug-in you could, for example, change the buy button from the common “Add to cart” to something with a little more flavor, such as “I want it!”

It’s a very interesting tool to pay attention to your eCommerce’s details and make it more “personal”.

➡️ WooCommerce PDF invoices & packing slips: automates purchase invoices

With PDF invoices you can:

  • Issue purchase invoices automatically (each of them with the corresponding invoice number).
  • E-mail them to the client.

The most interesting thing is you can customize the invoice template and add your brand’s visual elements (logo, colors, etc.)

➡️ Doofinder: WooCommerce smart search engine

Let’s say you own an online pharmacy.

Someone is using your web, goes to the search bar and types “contacts”. But no results.

And it’s not because you don’t sell contacts.

The issue is that, in your product cards, you use “contact lenses”. And your search engine doesn’t understand “contacts” and “contact lenses” are the same thing.

But, since the user isn’t aware of that, they leave your shop thinking you do not have what they need.

That is why it’s so important to have a smart search engine. One that helps users find what they are looking for easily (so that they do not leave) because:

  • It understands synonyms (and even typos!)
  • It autocompletes, so that the user can see products as they are typing.
  • If you do not have a specific product, it offers alternatives. 

These are some of Doofinder’s features (our smart search engine). Thanks to these (and many others), eCommerce using it have increased their sales by up to 20%.

You don’t have to take our word for it…

You can install Doofinder to your online shop and try it yourself 30 days for free (non-binding and without your credit card).

➡️ WP Rocket: your online shop at cruising speed

Low loading speed can lose you a lot of sales.

So, one of the first plug-ins you should install to your online shop is a loading speed optimization one.

And WP Rocket is one of the best.

It has many, many features, but the most important are the following:

  • Generates cached version: Cache is like a “fixed file” in your web that is saved to the user’s browser when they use it for the first time. So that when they go back to it the browser uses the cached version and your web will load faster.
  • Compresses CSS and JavaScript files: This setting lowers the “effort” the host makes to load the web.
  • Delayed image loading: The plug-in makes it so that images in your web load as the user scrolls through it. That way, they can browse it earlier.
  • Programs database clean-up: In order to delete junk data from the server.

Best thing is the plug-in upgrades by itself, without you having to do anything. Once you install it, it will enhance your web’s speed on its own.

There is one disadvantage: it’s a paid-for plug-in, but its many functions make it worthwhile.

➡️ Smush it: enhance your web’s images

Imagine you upload to your web a product picture with a 1500×1500 pixel size.

However, in the product card it shows up as a 500×500 pixels at most.

That means you are uploading to the server an image three times the size (and weight) necessary, which is also consuming resources needlessly.

This is a very common mistake in online shops and, to fix it easily, you have plug-ins like Smush it.

This plug-in checks every image in your eCommerce and automatically resizes the ones that are too big. So, with only a couple of clicks you can greatly improve your loading speed. 

👉 Examples of eCommerce designed with WooCommerce Platform

Lastly, let’s take a look at some shops that use WooCommerce, so that you can see its many possibilities. 😉

✅ Sodashi

We are starting with a cosmetics shop with a minimalist design.

On Sodashi’s web, white is the main character, in the most elegant style. The only exception is the full-page slider that greets you from the homepage.

Something interesting about it is its interactive form that helps you create a customized beauty routine.

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✅ Printing New York

Let’s move on to a print shop in New York: Printing New York.

Its homepage has a complex, eye-catching design:

  • First of all, there is a full-page video at the top.
  • Scrolling down you can find shortcuts to both the web’s main sections and their featured products.
  • And at the end, there is a sliding image gallery.

Take a look at it, you will love it!

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✅ The Good Batch

Watch out! This web’s cakes will make your mouth water! 😉

The Good Batch’s design is pretty simple compared to the previous ones. But it stands out because of its images’ superior quality.

However, such great quality doesn’t slow down the loading speed.

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✅ Singer

Singer is an Italian brand selling sewing supplies and its aesthetic is its most important feature.

It takes only a look. 

  • When you arrive to their web, there is a full-page slider. 
  • Grid image gallery just below the slider.
  • Small animations when the cursor moves over one of the images.

Endless little details all over their web.

No doubt, one of the best examples of the many customization options WooCommerce includes.

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✅ Mikasa Sport

Mikasa Sport is the official supplier of equipment for both the International Volleyball Federation and International Swimming Federation, among other sport associations.

What caught our attention is the high quality of their images, as well as the elements showing up to the page as you scroll down the homepage.

Click here to check it out.

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👉 Conclusion: Is WooCommerce useful for your online shop?

Let’s recap.

WooCommerce is an online shop creating platform which:

  • Is very easy to manage.
  • Offers many setting options.
  • Has a huge plug-in variety and compatible templates.
  • Is free to use.

Even if there are other CMS with more advanced features, this platform’s perfect if you are just starting with your online shop.

And you? Will you take a chance on it? 😉