Est. reading time: 8 minutes
set up a store on woocommerce logo on dark background

How To Set Up a WooCommerce Store on WordPress

There are plenty of ways to build an online store, but WooCommerce is, by far, the best choice. Here’s why:

  • It’s free, open-source, and highly stable.
  • It’s used to power over 30% of ecommerce stores worldwide.
  • It’s incredibly fast to set up. A basic store can be up and running in an hour!
  • Little-to-no technical expertise required to set up and run.
  • Easy-to-use interface and highly customizable.
  • Many officially supported extensions that add to its already rich feature set.

In the following article, we will walk you through the entire process of starting an online store based on WooCommerce. Let’s begin.


WooCommerce itself is free, but you need the following before you can start setting up your store (and these do cost a bit):

  • Domain name. Note: If you don’t already have one, some hosting providers offer local domain names for free, already included in your website hosting package.
  • WordPress Hosting or WooCommerce Hosting and your WordPress website already set up.
  • SSL Certificate. This is very important, because it encrypts traffic between your store and its clients. By doing so, the SSL certificate protects your store from eavesdropping attacks that can lead to sensitive information getting compromised.
    Note: Some hosting providers offer this for free, already included in your website hosting package.

Since WooCommerce only works on WordPress (WP), in this article, we will walk you through the process of setting up a WooCommerce store on a WordPress website.

If you need help in fulfilling the aforementioned prerequisites, and building a WordPress website from scratch, read our guide on How to create a WordPress website then return here to set up your store.

Setting up a WooCommerce Store

Step 1. Installing the Plugin

Installing WooCommerce is as easy as installing any WordPress Plugin. Follow these steps:

  1. Login to the WordPress dashboard as an admin user.
  2. Select Plugins from the left-hand sidebar and then Add New.
    screenshot WordPress admin dashboard with plugins tab highlighted in blue on the left-hand sidebar
  3. In the search bar on the right, enter WooCommerce and search.
    screenshot WordPress search results for word WooCommerce
  4. Click the Install Now button. Once the installation completes, click the Activate button and proceed to Step 2.
    screenshot WooCommerce plugin with Activate button highlighted in blue

Step 2. Activating and Configuring WooCommerce

Once you click Activate, the WooCommerce configuration wizard starts. It will require you to provide the following information:

  1. Store details: Fill out your store details, including your address, country, city, and postal code.
    screenshot WooCommerce form for store details
  2. WooCommerce tracks some non-sensitive user data like store size, how the store is installed and being used etc. to improve the overall user experience. If you are okay with this, choose Yes, count me in! Otherwise just select No thanks.
    screenshot Permission request to share non-sensitive data
  3. Industry: Choose the relevant industry for your store.
    screenshot Form for store industry selection
  4. Product Types: Choose the relevant product type for your business.
    Note: Product types other than Physical products and Downloads are not free
    screenshot WooCommerce form for product types
  5. Business details: Choose the number of products your store will have, along with the relevant option from the Currently selling elsewhere? dropdown. WooCommerce will suggest that you install certain plugins to add desirable functionalities (see below). Depending on your needs, you may select/deselect any.
    screenshot WooCommerce form for business details
  6. Theme: Select from the myriad of free and paid themes available for your store. You can also upload your own theme by scrolling to the bottom, and clicking Drop a theme zip file here to upload.
    screenshot WooCommerce theme options
  7. Extensions: You will be suggested to install two other plugins: Jetpack and WooCommerce Shipping & Tax. The former is an all-in-one plugin that boosts security, performance, and store management. The latter helps in automated sales tax calculation and printing shipping labels. It’s not compulsory to install any of the two plugins, but depending on your needs, you may install one or both.
    screenshot WooCommerce extensions form

Step 3. Adding Products

Now that our store is up-and-running, we can define categories, and add products to them.

Creating Product Categories

Product categories will help you group similar products together. Here’s how to create them:

  1. From your WP admin dashboard, click Products -> Categories.
  2. Enter a name for the category, a slug (will be appended in the URL), and a description for the category. You may also choose a parent category and/or thumbnail if relevant.
    screenshot WordPress admin dashboard side menu WooCommerce Products category form
  3. Repeat Step 2 until all categories have been defined.

Adding Products to your WooCommerce Store

If yours is a small store, it’s recommended that you add products manually:

  1. From your WP admin dashboard, click Products -> Add New.
  2. Enter a name for your product, and the product description in the post section.
    screenshot WooCommerce Products form Post section for product name and description
  3. Scroll down to the Product data section. Here you will define the regular and sale prices for the product. If the latter is relevant, you may also define a schedule for the sale. If the product is virtual/downloadable, check the relevant box.
    screenshot WooCommerce Product data section
  4. Move over to the inventory tab and specify the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), which is a unique identifier for every product, used for inventory management. Fill out the other details like Stock quantity, Allow backorders, Low stock threshold, etc. depending on your needs. To know more about what each field represents, hover over the question mark icons and read the descriptions.
    screenshot WooCommerce Product data Inventory form
  5. In the shipping tab, enter the weight, dimensions, and shipping class for the product.
    screenshot WooCommerce Product Shipping form
  6. If there are any linked products, you may define them in the Linked Products section. Upsells are alternative products, that are more expensive or of a higher quality. Cross-sells are related products that a buyer may also be interested in.
    screenshot WooCommerce Linked Products form
  7. Another way to group products is via custom product attributes. Add them in the Attributes section.
    screenshot WooCommerce Product data Attributes form
  8. Specify a purchase note (sent to buyers) and a menu order (customized ordering position) for the product in the Advanced section.
    screenshot WooCommerce Product data Advanced form
  9. Scroll down to the Product short description section to add a description which will be shown to buyers when viewing this product with other products on the same page.
    screenshot WooCommerce Product short description
  10. From the right-hand side, choose one or more categories, and specify one or more tags for the product.
    screenshot WooCommerce Product categories tags
  11. Finally, set a product image using the Set product image link, or upload multiple pictures using the Add product gallery images link.
    screenshot WooCommerce Product image
  12. And that’s it. Click the Save Draft button to save your changes to come back to it later, or if you are ready to make your changes live to the public, click the Publish button. Below is an example of what your product page could look like on your website once published.
    screenshot WooCommerce published product page

More Things You Should Know

By now, you have a basic WooCommerce store set up, however there’s still a lot more you should know:

Coupon Management

To create a coupon:

  1. Login to your WP dashboard. Select Marketing -> Coupons.
  2. Then click Add coupon.
  3. Generate a random coupon code, and enter an optional description.
    screenshot WooCommerce Marketing section, coupon and discount form
  4. Enter information like discount type, coupon amount, expiry date, usage limit per coupon, products and product categories etc. in the Coupon data section. Once you are ready, click the Publish button on the right.

Adding a Custom Payment Method

It’s a recommended practise to use an external payment gateway to process your store’s transactions.

These payment gateway companies are compliant with government laws on how to handle client data securely. This way sensitive customer data always stays secure, and in case a data breach does occur, you have no liability and hence don’t have to pay hefty fines.

If you are based out of Kenya, you can trust local companies like DPO and M-PESA. They support all forms of payment methods such as card payments and are fully compliant.

To add DPO as a payment method, you will have to sign up on the DPO website, and install and configure the DPO Pay extension for WooCommerce.

To add M-PESA, you will have to download the plugin from the WordPress Repository.

Adding Cash on Delivery (COD) as a Payment Method

To add COD as a payment method:

  1. From your WP admin dashboard, select WooCommerce -> Settings.
  2. Move over to the Payments section.
  3. Toggle the Enabled switch against Cash on delivery.
    screenshot WooCommerce payment settings
  4. Click Set up on the same row on the right of the screen.
  5. Change any information you see fit. Also, choose the relevant shipping methods.
    screenshot WooCommerce Cash on Delivery setup form
  6. Click Save changes.

Managing Orders

Managing orders is an important part of running an online store; arguably the most important.

Change/View Order Statuses

To view or change order statuses:

  1. From your WP dashboard, go to WooCommerce -> Orders.
  2. To view more information about an order, click it.
  3. From here, you can refund an order, change created date, view the customer and production information etc.
  4. To change the status of an order, select it, and then select the relevant option from the Bulk actions dropdown.
    screenshot WooCommerce Order settings, change status
  5. Click Apply.

Filtering Orders

To filter orders by customer and/or date:

  1. From your WP dashboard, go to WooCommerce -> Orders.
  2. Select the date and/or customer from the two dropdowns before the Filter button and then click the Filter button to see results.
    screenshot WooCommerce Order filtering

Manually Adding an Order

Sometimes you may need to add an order manually:

  1. From your WP dashboard, go to WooCommerce -> Orders.
  2. Click Add Order.
  3. Enter customer details, add different items, apply any coupons, enter any custom details, and calculate the total amount. Specify the status for the order.
    screenshot WooCommerce Order manual add form
  4. When all is done, click the Create button on the right.

Tax Settings

Setting up taxation is another important step:

  1. From the WP admin dashboard, go to WooCommerce -> Settings.
  2. While on the General tab, scroll down and check the Enable taxes box. Click Save changes.
    screenshot WooCommerce Settings - enable taxes
  3. Now, switch over to the Tax section.
  4. Here you can configure various settings like whether your prices will be inclusive/exclusive of tax, which address to use while calculating tax, shipping tax class, and tax rounding etc. You can also specify different tax classes (standard, reduced, and zero rate classes are created by default).
    screenshot WooCommerce Tax settings

Track Your Store’s Performance

Once you have added products and started receiving orders, you should keep track of your store’s online performance. Metrics like most viewed/bought products, conversion rate, total sales and revenue, etc. are great indicators of it.

There are plenty of plugins that offer this functionality, but MonsterInsights is the recommended choice.

It’s very easy, integrates with Google Analytics seamlessly, and gives you access to all the relevant insights for your store. To set it up, follow these steps:

  1. Install the Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights plugin.
  2. Connect your Google Analytics account with your WooCommerce store.
  3. Then from your WP dashboard, go to Insights -> Settings.
    screenshot MonsterInsights eCommerce reports
  4. Move over to the eCommerce tab, and select Use Enhanced eCommerce.
  5. That’s it. You will now see all the important stats on your main WP dashboard under MonsterInsights Reports.

Now you should be all set up. We hope this tutorial was helpful.

Happy Hosting!

Related posts