Beginner’s Guide To Setting Up WooCommerce PART ONE

This is a two-pronged approach over three or four articles (this is the first), on setting up WooCommerce on a self-hosted site and also here on

WooCommerce enables you to set up and online shop where you can display products for sale, and customers can pay for them. We are all familiar with online shopping, and it will come as no surprise that WooCommerce is not the only way of setting up a shop.

But it is a hugely popular method, and that is almost certainly down to the fact that WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin.

It was developed by a company named Woothemes and then in 2015, Automattic, the company that owns, bought it. That would give anyone wanting to use it, confidence that it is being actively developed.

One of the things that makes WooCommerce attractive is the rise of a simple setup for actually getting the money from customers.

There was a time when you had to know at least something about payment processors, payment gateways, and you had to speak to a merchant bank.

It’s much easier now with Stripe and Paypal.

WooCommerce is free to download and use. There are lots of paid extensions and some free ones. More about that later.

Before I get into WooCommerce, and how to set it up, I want to take a step back and consider whether it is WooCommerce that you want.

WooCommerce is very powerful, as shown by the fact that it is by far the most popular e-commerce setup. But do you need it?

Do You Need It

If, you are on a self-hosted WordPress site and for example, you want to sell digital products only, you can use WooCommerce but you can also use Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) or LemonSqueezy.

You could also use Shopify Lite, which is an add-on that enables you to add button links to your WordPress site that send the customer to Shopify to complete the payment transaction.

Or if you only have a few products, you could add a PayPal button or a Stripe button to your WordPress site. And that applies both to self-hosted sites and to sites here on

It is super easy to add payment buttons on any of the paid plans on

Simple Payment Buttons

This is a view of the admin panel on a draft post on a site. I entitled the post with the super creative title of ‘A Post’, and on the left of the page you can see the blocks you can add. The blocks shown are in the section named EARN – and you can see that I added the Pay with PayPal button and then the Stripebutton in the post.

There are limits to what you can do with buttons. There is no stock control and no way to mark a product out of stock. That might not matter. Maybe you are selling digital prints, and when you see that stock is getting low you get more printed – so stock is never an issue.

You can’t offer size, colour, or any kind of variation. Well, you could if you presented each variation as a separate product and added a button for each variation..

What I mean is this. If you offer say small, medium, and large T shirts in three colours – red, blue, and green, that’s nine variations. The only way to offer them is to make each variation a product and then you have to have nine decriptions and nine PayPal or Stripe buttons. You could do it, but it’s a bit clunky,

And customers can’t buy a selection of different products in one order, because there is no basket. So if a customer wants to buy more than one thing, they have to complete a separate payment transaction for each product.

Again, you could bundle products in one transaction, but that is just another way of saying ‘this is one product’.

You can use Stripe on any self hosted WP site with a plugin. Stripe has a warning on its ‘verified partners for WordPress page that those intending to use a plugin should “sort by ratings, check for recent activity, and read reviews before activating any solution.”

You can also use Paypal on a self hosted site with a plugin as you no doubt know, and you just need to check you have chosen your plugin wisely.

There is another way though, and that is to add the Jetpack plugin on a self-hosted site. From the Jetpack blurb, that enables you to do it.

This isn’t the place to talk about solutions other than within WordPress, but for reference I will add a post at the end of this series, with some alternatives.

What WooCommerce Can Do

By seeing the limitations of Simple Payment Buttons, we can understand what WooCommerce can do:

  • You can offer variations a product and customers can choose from the list.
  • Customers can pick different products and different kinds of products that are offered at different prices and put them in a basket and check out in one transaction

So, now we can get back to WooCommerce in the next post in this series, and I will explain how you actually set it up with the WooCommerce wizard. Here’s the link to PART TWO

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