Starting an eCommerce website from scratch can be an extremely daunting task. After all, you ventured into eCommerce as a businessperson, and not an IT specialist, so all the web talk has you mostly confused. However, there are a lot of WordPress plugins that can help you with your eCommerce website. My advice would be to go for it and learn by doing it. Sure, it will be a little tougher in the beginning, but, by following this information, you can go a long way from transforming your eCommerce website into pure profit.
When it comes to creating a website, WordPress is the best content management system (CMS) king and it still offers the best way to utilize all the resources available, while putting in minimum effort. It is even created to be friendly for first-time users and its interface is quite intuitive. In fact, it’s the only CMS I use.
First, your going to need to sign up with a web hosting company and purchase a domain name. I do recommend purchasing a domain name with NameCheap and not GoDaddy, because it’s cheaper and easier to work with. Then, you can host your website on InMotion, SiteGround, GreenGeeks, etc. by pointing your DNS to your host. Do make sure you purchase a SSL certificate, too.
I would then recommend purchasing a premium theme for your WordPress site; Elegant Themes, Headway and Genesis (or BoldGrid for free if you sign up with InMotion Hosting) do offer a lot of great templates to layout a framework for your eCommerce ventures. Once you have done that you can then use 99designs.com to get a professional logo design made for your new eCommerce website.
Below are a list of e-commerce plugins (or plugins that you will need) that I have tried, and tested over the years:
1. All-in-one SEO pack
Rookies in the eCommerce game usually undervalue the effects that SEO can have on their websites, and this is understandable. SEO can seem like something that only experts know something about (and with all the special lingo it has, it is no wonder), but what beginners need to understand is:
- SEO is extremely important for a website and conversion rates.
- It is not as complicated as people think.
With the All-in-one SEO pack, your WordPress website will get everything that it needs to be kept afloat on the SERPs (that’s Search Engine Results Pages, or how Google sees your web page and how high it places it for the relevant keywords). What’s best for beginners is that it does not need any setting up. Just install it and you can adjust the setting for All-in-one SEO Pack by reading this post.
With better SEO, your web page will get more visitors. More visitors almost surely equals to more buyers. Also, one of its finer points is that the ordinary version is free, while you always have to option to upgrade to the Pro version once your profits come trickling in.
Now that you’ve got SEO and visitor attraction out of the way, you have to think about converting those visits into sales and profits. Conversion is done in numerous ways, but one of the sure ones is to see what your customers are attracted to, what keeps their attention and strengthening those areas of your website. One of the easiest ways to collect insights about your website’s traffic is to use the JetPack plugin.
Along with other options (such as security services, image loading times speed-up and fine support), traffic tracking in real time is the most important one. You will be able to see not only the number of visits on your website, but also check which pages were the most interesting (where visitors spent the most time) and help you attract bigger crowds with specialized traffic options. I have written a post about Jetpack which you can check out here.
3. WP eCommerce
All the SEO and conversion techniques will get you nowhere if there is nothing to sell on your website. To this end, I recommend using one of the most easy-to-use eCommerce plugins out there, the WP eCommerce. With access to all the major payment gateways (which includes most credit and debit cards, as well as PayPal and other online payment methods), this plugin with a beautiful layout will allow you to fully customize your online store. In an easy way you can add products to the catalog, monitor sales and check reports, and even figure out your taxes.
Backing up your website is extremely important. While WordPress is the most stable platform available, for some reason or another, your website can crash and require you to restore it to a previous state (especially if you are a beginner and are not quite familiar with plugin functionalities). One of the most straightforward plugins in general, BackupBuddy will allow you to back up your whole WordPress website in a simple manner.
It will also give you the option to set regular automatic backups, so that you do not have to worry about when the last time your back up took place. Also, it can help with migrating your site to another host. Its only drawback is that it is not free, but investing money on backups is extremely important. If you lose your website, you lose everything.
No WordPress website can go without blog posts, especially the eCommerce ones. Having your own content helps the site in more ways than one. It can show off your expertise in your field, give people some advice and not to mention the SEO and marketing benefits of good content. With the EditFlow plugin, you will be able to organize your content with ease, and have a publishing schedule developed to keep your website interactive for visitors.
Also, content draws comments and replies, and with EditFlow, you will be able to moderate what is being said. If you need to consult with your writers and editors, you can do that too, using the threaded commenting.
I would also highly encourage you to write your own content for your blog section of your website. However, as you start to generate sales I would consider outsourcing your content writing at textbroker.com.
Responsiveness of your website is among the primary factors that Google takes into account when ranking your web page. All the different plugins can slow down the loading times and signal to Google that your website is just spammy. However, with Soliloquy, you will get the benefits of one of the best things on WordPress – sliders. Sliders are the way in which website owners are able to efficiently present their website to the visitors. With most slider plugins, you would get poor loading times, but not with Soliloquy. It will load sliders ultra fast and still keep them entertaining for your potential customers. It is a paid plugin, but it has a free trial that you should check out.
7. Login Lockdown
Many newbies in the eCommerce business get duped in the very beginning and their websites get broken into. There are many web-predators ready to exploit even the slightest chance to break into a website. Login Lockdown is one of the ways to stop this. By limiting the number of login tries to just 3, it will definitely stop those people who go about hacking with password lists. If login is unsuccessful after 3 tries, it shuts down and makes logging in impossible for some time. An easy way to stop a potentially deadly attack on your website.
Similarly to WordPress eCommerce, the Selz plugin will turn your WordPress website into a full-blown online store. It’s free and it allows you to add a beautiful store to the website. It is extremely easy to work with, and basically risk-free (you do not have to invest money in order to sell, and you pay only after you’ve sold something). It is also regularly updated, so you can be sure that any bugs that you might encounter will be dealt with quickly and efficiently.
Forms are found on every WordPress site in many different ways. Whether it’s subscription forms, contact forms, payment forms or any other type, with WPForms you will have no problem setting them up, as this plugin is extremely intuitive. With drop-down menus, it will give you the options that suit your needs the best, while incorporating them into a proper form. There is also the lite version of this plugin, which is a bit simpler and completely free, but we recommend the full plugin for the many options that it has.
Spam is among the first things that will get you panicked and confused and that you are 100% sure to run into. New websites are the primary targets of spammers, as the owners usually do not have proper spam protection. Keep one step ahead by installing a spam-filtering plugin, such as Akismet. It checks all the comments that you receive with its database and figures out on its own which comments are spammy and which are not. With the discard option, it will save you valuable space, as it will automatically reject the worst spam comments. Also, it keeps a history of its activities, so you can always undo the wrongfully discarded comments.
Like I said, starting an eCommerce website on your own for the first time can be somewhat discouraging, but with proper guidance, anyone can be their own boss. On First Site Guide, they offer help for people who are new to the game. I want as many newbies to succeed as possible, so feel free to do a bit of digging around of your own, and see what you can find out.