Your software stack is one of the most significant factors in being successful in ecommerce. While, of course, you need a good product to sell, you also need to have excellent software to facilitate the entire process. Ecommerce involves a lot more than traditional offline sales. Your software stack needs to help you with everything from payment processing, to inventory management, review collection, account management, and a lot more.
Many people choose WordPress for their website, and as a result, they turn to WooCommerce for handling the ecommerce aspect of their website. Between WooCommerce itself and various plugins that work with it, you can build a full software stack that will help you to succeed in the world of ecommerce. The major contender to WooCommerce these days is Shopify. While either can get the job done and do for some large ecommerce companies, the difference is that you run WooCommerce on your own domain at no monthly fee. Shopify charges a monthly fee and adds fees for add-ons. WooCommerce does charge for “extensions” but usually only a one-time fee or annual fee. So, we like WooCommerce when you consider the independence it affords you.
But don’t just stop at selecting WooCommerce! You also need to know certain best practices that will enable you to get the most out of your ecommerce store in order to be successful. WooCommerce is our preferred platform, and over the years, we have developed our own best practices that help us deliver excellent ecommerce websites to our clients. Keep reading to learn more about what these WooCommerce best practices are and why they are so important!
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that turns your website into a complete ecommerce store. It has all the functionality you will ever need to sell physical and digital products online. You can also expand the plugin through other plugins to get additional functionality. For example, there are specific payment processors that you can integrate with WooCommerce via their plugins.
One of the best things is that this piece of software is open source and free. While most of the plugins will have a cost associated, the fact that the main framework is free is amazing and makes it attainable for almost anyone to open their own ecommerce store.
Why Choose WooCommerce?
The main reason you should use WooCommerce is the fact that it is free and powerful. It can compete with more expensive options, and is perfectly suited for small business owners who are just getting started as well as larger businesses. As we mentioned before, the large amount of plugin and tool options that you have available to you when using WooCommerce also makes it a great option to choose.
Plus, with many website owners already using WordPress, it just makes the most sense and will be the easiest for you to integrate with WooCommerce to get your store up and running. By utilizing WordPress and WooCommerce, everything about your website and your store can be easily managed in one location. And by incorporating these WooCommerce best practices, you won’t just have an operational store, you’ll have an optimized store that is sure to score you more customers and more sales.
WooCommerce Best Practices
Now let’s get into what our recommended WooCommerce best practices are! These practices will help your store run smoothly and ensure it is optimized for maximum conversions.
Security is a major factor for any website, but especially ecommerce sites that handle people’s personal information. An SSL certificate is a must for getting people to trust your website. You also want your WordPress site hardened against potential attacks. There are many security plugins you can install that will work with your ecommerce store.
One plugin that we use a lot and would recommend is Wordfence Security. In their words, “Wordfence includes an endpoint firewall and malware scanner that were built from the ground up to protect WordPress. Our Threat Defense Feed arms Wordfence with the newest firewall rules, malware signatures and malicious IP addresses it needs to keep your website safe. Rounded out by 2FA and a suite of additional features, Wordfence is the most comprehensive WordPress security solution available.”
Ultimately, this is going to be one of the biggest determining factors for establishing trust with your customers, something that is crucial for earning their business.
Good Hosting for WooCommerce
Another big issue to tackle with building your own Woocommerce store is the overall performance. Having good performance requires getting a server that you tune to maximize PHP performance. You can use caching and other performance tuning mechanisms to ensure that you have the best server possible. Since everything is WordPress, the same performance optimizations that apply to WordPress will also apply to WooCommerce.
We have personally liked the speed and affordability of FastComet hosting — usually appearing on top 20 lists of hosts. There have emerged a number of both WordPress, and WooCommerce specialist hosting companies, that cost more for the service. We don’t think you need this when you hook up with a knowledgeable developer with good support plans. Like to ask questions with no commitments? Schedule a 15 minutes Q&A with our Chief Optimizer, Scott Frangos (he goes back to WordPress version 1.5).
Something else to really think about is your site’s speed. Research shows that 1 in 4 visitors will abandon a site that takes longer than 4 seconds to load. Make sure you select a good host that will help ensure your site speed is where it needs to be. There are also plenty of things on your end to do to control speed- including compressing images, reducing redirects, and using browser caching. This list from Moz gives a nice overview of everything you should be doing to improve page speed.
Additional WooCommerce Plugins (aka Extensions)
While you do not need to install any additional plugins in order to use WooCommerce, we recommend installing a few to help you build an excellent ecommerce store.
Here are some of our top recommendations based on what has worked for a few ecommerce clients of ours:
- Reviews: While WooCommerce itself can handle reviews, we have found that there are other plugins that give you more functionality and provide your customers with a better experience. We recommend YITH WooCommerce Advanced Reviews because of all the features this plugin has, as well as how easy it is to get set up.
- Wishlists: Every ecommerce store should allow users to add items to a wishlist. On the customer’s side, they can easily keep track of items they really love (which is especially important if you have a large inventory) and share with friends or family members. On your end, this gives you crucial data about which items in your store people love the most. Everybody wins!
- Compare items: This is another tool we have found to be incredibly helpful for ecommerce clients who have a large inventory of products. The ability to directly compare items can seriously increase the chance that a customer will feel confident they have made the right decision and will make a purchase. While in traditional brick and mortar stores you can have a sales team to help guide this process, with e-commerce, that becomes more difficult. A comparison tool (such as YITH WooCommerce Compare) can help users quickly compare main product features in order to make an informed decision.
SEO for WooCommerce
Having a solid SEO strategy in place is crucial if you want your ecommerce store to be successful. While this is true for any website, it is especially important in the crowded world of ecommerce stores and therefore makes our list of WooCommerce best practices. Make sure your product pages are fully optimized and that you create a robust system of categories and tags that will properly filter and group your products. Not only will this benefit your customers, it will also boost your SEO and signal to search bots what your store is.
Keep in mind that SEO will not give you results overnight. It is something to build up over time that will help you increase traffic and your positioning. You can also rely on a blog to help you target additional keywords that your audience is searching for on Google and other search engines.
We recommend using a tool like SEMrush to track your own site, as well as your competitors. Use their keyword magic tool to help select the perfect keywords and then track their ranking as you build up content focused on those keywords.
Simple, Clear Checkout Process
This certainly makes our list of WooCommerce best practices because it is focused on what we know is most important to you: Maximizing conversions. The above example is in place at a client’s site of ours, Power Mobility & Lifts. Their checkout process is both clear and simple so that people can quickly provide the correct information to complete their purchase.
By adding the steps at the top, a customer easily knows what step in the process they are in, as well as how many steps are left. One of the main reasons a consumer will abandon their cart is a confusing or time-consuming checkout process. Be sure to streamline your process and make it incredibly easy for customers to go through each step.
Mobile shopping is only going to continue to rise and for that reason, it is now an absolute must that your ecommerce store is optimized for mobile. Not only should your website and product pages be mobile optimized, but also your entire checkout process should be as well.
Pictured above is another ecommerce client of ours, Public Market Coffee. On the left is a portion of a product page on a desktop device and at the right is the same page optimized for mobile. As you can see, all elements are clearly visible and a customer can easily add the product to their cart from both desktop and mobile.
It is estimated that mobile sales will increase by 22.3 percent in 2021. Do not lose out on a significant chunk of your customer base simply because they cannot shop from a mobile device.
Finally, staying on top of regular updates for your ecommerce site is crucial. WordPress, WooCommerce, and any other plugins you use will regularly release updates that not only provide new features but also fix any potential security issues. Ecommerce is simply not a set it and forget it type of venture.
Instead, someone should regularly monitor your site for updates and also perform regular site backups in case a problem arises. This will ensure that your site is always up to date, runs smoothly and efficiently, is safe from any cyberattacks, and also keeps your customer’s data protected. This may be one of the most important WooCommerce best practices but it does not always get the most attention. When you launch your site, that is not the end. It is really just the beginning of your ecommerce journey!
If you are feeling overwhelmed right now, that’s understandable. Running your own ecommerce store is difficult! Thankfully, there are people out there, such as our Webdirexion team, that can help you with every step of your ecommerce store process. From getting your site up and running, to performing regular updates, to optimizing product pages and engaging in some content marketing, we can help you run a successful ecommerce site by engaging in these WooCommerce best practices, freeing you up to focus on what matters to you most: Your brand, your products, and your customers!
If you would like to learn more about what we can do for you and your ecommerce brand, please contact us.