The online shop add-on WooCommerce is a powerful tool with tons of possible customizations. The following guide shows you how to optimize the shop system for your needs.
Once you’ve installed the popular WooCommerce plugin for WordPress (see this guide), you can start adding and selling products. But if you customize your shop, you can make even better use of it.
You can find these settings in the WordPress backend at -> WooCommerce -> Settings. The first article of our series gives you an overview of the possibilities WooCommerce offers under the General and Products tabs.
The upper area is for the General Options in WooCommerce:
- The Base Location is your shop’s home country. This determines things like the applied tax rates (which can be changed later). The Base Location is set by WooCommerce according to your country settings, so for a German language installation, this is “Germany”. When using the WooCommerce German Market plugin, Austria is usually recognized and automatically set as well. Otherwise, the correct base country (Austria or Switzerland, etc.) should be manually selected at this point.
- With the option Selling Location(s), you can set the countries where you want to sell and thus ship your products. The default setting is Sell to all countries. If you choose Sell to specific countries only however, another menu appears, where you can add single Specific Countries. Later, customers can only provide payment and shipping information from these countries when ordering.
- With Store Notice activated, a note appears in the online shop saying that it is only a demo site and no orders are accepted. If your new web shop is not yet ready for final presentation, you should use a separate limited-access test system to avoid confusing potential clients. This also allows you to see the effects of different WooCommerce settings without stress.
- With the button Store Notice Text, you can change this note.
- The API allows third-party providers to develop plugins based on WooCommerce. The activation of the REST API by the provider might be required.
Note: Changing single settings has to be confirmed with the “Save changes” at the end of the page. If the note “This page wants you to confirm leaving the page” appears when changing to another page or tab, you have forgotten to save.
After that, the Currency Options of WooCommerce can be set in detail:
If the WooCommerce German Market plugin is installed, the correct values for the German-speaking region are already set. Otherwise, you can set them manually:
- The Currency, in which the products in your online shop are listed. This also defines the currency of prices and payment in the ordering process.
- The Currency Position determines, if the currency symbol appears on the left or the right of the prices (Example: € 99.99 or 99.99 €). You can also choose if you want a space between the amount and the symbol.
- Now, you can customize the Thousand Separator and the Decimal Separator (the separator for decimal places). In German speaking countries, this is usually a point (thousand separator) and a comma (decimal separator).
- You can also set the Number of Decimals (usually two).
With the Styles and Scripts area and Frontend Styles you can customize the appearance of your online shop, like the buttons or product texts and notes.
Usually, the WordPress- / Shop theme is activated, which sets the design and overwrites the WooCommerce settings. In that case, you don’t have to enter anything here.
Note: Some themes – like our Hamburg shop theme – hide this WooCommerce area, since it is unnecessary in this case.
The Scripts item gives you two options:
- With the Enable Lightbox feature activated, the expanded pictures of products on the shop are opened in a small extra window. This does not only look better, it also allows the user to navigate between the product pictures or enlarge the pictures (provided they are big enough). Some themes come with their own solution for this. If that doesn’t work, this WooCommerce feature might have to be disabled.
- With the Enable enhanced country select boxes activated, WooCommerce adds a field where you can search for eligible countries to the country selection of the delivery and order address. This is useful, if products are shipped to several countries. Some shop themes don’t fully support this feature. If this is the case, disabling it in the WooCommerce settings will help.
This central area defines how WooCommerce handles the display of products in different areas of the shop.
First, let’s have a look at the Product Options item (directly below the tabs on the left side, you can choose between Product Options and Inventory) and its first area Product Listings:
- The Product Archive / Shop Page item determines the WordPress page for the display of the online shop itself and its products. Usually this is the (preset) Shop page.
- Shop Page Display defines whether the shop only shows products or also product subcategories.
- Default Category Display allows you to make this setting for category subpages as well (so-called product category archives, like a “Pop/Rock” category in a music shop, that again has several sub-categories)
- Default Product Sorting defines the order of products listed in the shop (customers can change this sorting on the site), e.g. by date or price of the products.
- With Redirect to the cart page after successful addition (under the item Add to cart) activated, the customer is automatically forwarded to the shopping cart, when he clicks the Add to cart button on a product page.
- With the “Redirect to the cart…” feature deactivated and Enable AJAX add to cart buttons on archives selected, the addition of a product to the shopping cart is indicated at the Add to cart button, without reloading the page. (More about the AJAX technology here). Otherwise, a note would appear in a separate infobox (usually on the upper part of the page, depending on the shop theme).
Note: This also defines the permalink basis of products in the shop, if the option “Shop base” or “Shop base with category” is chosen under -> Settings -> Permalinks -> Product permalink base in the WordPress backend. If “Shop” is the product archive or product page, the permalink of products would be /shop/… instead of /product/…
Let’s continue with Product Data:
- The Weight Unit (kilograms) and the Dimensions Unit (centimeters) are also chosen appropriately, if WooCommerce German Market is installed. You can also set the units manually.
- If you’ve checked Enable ratings on reviews customers can give (written) reviews an additional star rating (one to five stars).
- The option Ratings are required to leave a review makes it obligatory to give “stars” if you want to review a product.
- Show “verified owner” label for customer reviews adds the label verified owner to product reviews, if they were submitted by registered customers (who must actually have bought the product).
- Only allow reviews from “verified owners” means that only registered users can submit reviews. They have to be logged in with the same account used to purchase a product.
Tip: If you want loose customer reviews and the “Reviews” tab altogether, this instruction may help.
At Product Image Sizes, you define the size of product images in the overview, detailed view and preview images. The uploaded pictures have to be at least as big as the highest value entered here to avoid “pixelated” images.
Note: The shop theme also affects the nature and size of displayed images. That means deviations from the values entered in WooCommerce have to be corrected in the theme options as well.
If you change the image sizes afterwards or during the use of a new shop theme, the Regenerate Thumbnails WordPress plugin can be very helpful. It recalculates all images and image sizes, so they are not distorted. If you want to be on the safe side, you can safe all pictures uploaded to WordPress before the installation (using FTP; they are usually located in this folder ../wp-content/uploads to the web server).
That leaves the Downloadable Products area:
- File Download Method defines how WooCommerce handles downloadable digital products in a shop.
- Here, the option Force Downloads allows you to immediately open the download by using a PHP script. The download URL itself stays hidden, but some web servers have trouble reliably providing bigger files this way.
- X-Accel-Redirect/X-Sendfile usually offers better performance and supports bigger files. It allows you to offer downloads from protected directories or to hide paths. See this description.
- With Redirect only a simple download link to the file is provided, which is not protected from unauthorized access.
- Under Access Restriction you can make further settings. The Downloads require login is self-explanatory, but does not affect guest orders.
- Grant access to downloadable products after payment means that files already can be accessed when the order status is “processing”, not only when it is “completed”. This way, the customer can use the digital product immediately after the payment and does not have to wait for the shop owner to approve of the purchase.
Finally, let’s have a look at the options at -> Products -> Inventory directly under the tab menu:
Settings in the Products -> Inventory tab
Here you can define the way WooCommerce handles your online shop’s stock / inventory:
- The first option, Manage Stock, defines if you want WooCommerce to be involved in stock management at all.
- Hold Stock (minutes): This freezes / reserves the product stock when an order was made but not paid yet. After the entered time frame, the unpaid order is canceled and the stock is cleared again. If the field is left empty, this feature is disabled.
- Notifications can be activated at low stock or if the stock status “out of stock” is reached. With the following fields, you can enter the threshold values for sending these emails as well as the email address.
- Out Of Stock Visibility allows you to hide products that are not available anymore.
- The settings at Stock Display Format define if the precise stock left of a product is displayed all the time, only at low stock or never.
Checking all the options described above takes some time. However, the General Settings and product tabs include many options to make the sales process more efficient, so the effort is worthwhile!
Do you have questions about setting up WooCommerce? Just ask them in the comments to this article.
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