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There are multiple e-commerce platforms that help you set up an e-commerce store online. Shopify, Magento are some of the popular e-commerce platforms that help you set up your store online. One more a relatively new addition to the list is WooCommerce. These platforms help your business to go online very quickly and easily.
But with the ever-increasing popularity of WordPress and WooCommerce, people are moving their online stores to WooCommerce. The reasons for this can be:
- The cost involved in setting up a WooCommerce store - WooCommerce is a completely free WordPress plugin that helps include all the basic features of an online store.
- You have the absolute control over the online store - Unlike other e-commerce platforms, WooCommerce gives you the complete control over your store. You can decide what the store will look like, how to extend your store, without any limitations or added costs.
- WooCommerce is an incredibly flexible plugin. There are multiple extension plugins for WooCommerce that helps improve the functionalities of the plugin and hence your store.
- The number of free plugins available for WooCommerce is huge. There are premium plugins also that provide many features are also available with reasonable pricing.
- WooCommerce can be easily integrated with social media which is necessary for any e-commerce site these days.
First, in order to create a WooCommerce online store, you need to install the WordPress and WooCommerce. Let's see how that's done.
So, to create an online store using WordPress and WooCommerce, the first step is creating a website using WordPress. For that, you must get a hosting provider and a domain name. After purchasing the domain name and the hosting service, install WordPress. Installing WordPress is really easy. WordPress has the famous '5-minute' installation which just as it sounds only takes about 5 minutes to install. It very easy and you can set up your website in just a few clicks.
Or, you can also install WordPress manually as well. More about it in How to Manually Set Up WordPress.
Next, to convert a WordPress site into an online store, all you need to do is install the WooCommerce plugin. For this go to Plugin > Add New and on the search box, type WooCommerce. From the search result list, look for WooCommerce by Automattic. And then, install and activate the WooCommerce plugin.
After you have installed the plugin, you have yourself a functional WooCommerce store. Next, you need to select a suitable WooCommerce theme for your store. In WooCommerce, the default theme is the Storefront. But you can change the theme to anything that best suits your store. Themes for WooCommerce store is available in abundance.
Before getting a theme, do a proper research to know which theme would work the best for your store. If you are going for a free theme for your store, you can get it directly from your dashboard. You can also get themes from other sources that you can upload, install and activate on your store.
Next, install all the necessary plugins that are required to make the WooCommerce site fully functional.
Migrating From an E-commerce Store to WooCommerce
One might think that migration of a website is something that only a seasoned developer should do. But migration is not all the nightmare situation that it seems like. If the right steps are followed and the right plugins are used, migration of a website does not need the assistance of a qualified developer. It can be done by someone with little technical expertise.
Before migrating the website to WooCommerce, it will be a good idea to let your customers know that you are bringing changes to the website. And also for the conversion of the e-commerce site, select a time at which the traffic to your website is low. This is to make sure that even if there is a downtime during the migration, there is minimum possible damage done. Also, take proper measures to ensure that all the transactions go smoothly during the migration.
The next important thing to do before migration is to take care of the SEO and the traffic. When you are moving to a new WooCommerce site from an existing e-commerce platform or website, clearly you would have a decent traffic to your website. Moving to another site should not be a reason that you lose all that traffic that is crucial to your business. It is necessary that you involve the SEO early on in the migration process so that you don't have to build up all that traffic from the ground up.
Recommended Reading: The Definite Guide to Invoices in WooCommerce
Now, the most important thing to do prior to migration is taking a backup of everything. There is always a possibility of a disaster even in carefully organized migration. Creating a backup reduces the risk of you losing all the data and you don't have to worry in case anything goes wrong. And you don't have to start anything from scratch.
When changing the online store to a WooCommerce store, you can start from scratch and add all the manually into the store. However, it is far from practical to move your e-commerce data manually or leave the existing platform and start the same store in WooCommerce afresh.
First, you have to take note of all the data that you want to migrate. The data that you need to migrate may include the products, product images, products reviews and other data related to the products, orders, customer and customer data, subscriptions, comments, reviews, etc.
The migration of data from one site to another can be done by exporting the data from the origin site in a CSV file and then importing the files to the destination site. This will easily transfer the data from one site to the other site.
When you import the products in the WooCommerce store, an important step is the mapping of the column headers of the CSV to that of the data fields of WooCommerce. The data fields of other e-commerce websites are not always necessarily aligned with the WooCommerce data fields. So, the mapping ensures that all the data are imported correctly in the store.
Be sure to import data that are related to each other. For example subscription and users. If you are importing the subscription data from one site to another, there will be users that are associated with the users. So in order for the subscription data to be relevant or working in the new store, you should import the users as well.
Also Read: WordPress Website Migrations
Now we know that we can move data from one site to another easily using a CSV file, but how do we export the data to a CSV file and then import them? To export and import data from one site to another you need plugins. Plugins will help you export the data you need to migrate to a CSV file from the origin site and then import the data to the destination site. All you need to do is choose and install the right plugins on the source and destination sites.
Do a test run on the website to check everything on the website works flawlessly. Next, when you migrate to another platform, the URL of the site is bound to change. When you change the website, you need to set up proper redirections so that your users don't see a 404 error when they visit your website. Also, optimize your website for SEO. You can check out SEO for WordPress – Beginners’ Guide