Getting Started: Creating Products in WooCommerce

It is very easy to create products in WooCommerce. Only very few users actually utilize all the available options. We will show you, how you can get even more out of your product presentation with the right settings.

The periodic care and maintenance of shop content is not exactly the favourite past-time of most online shop operators. Fact is, however, that the more you know about product creation in WooCommerce, the quicker you will be finished with these administrative tasks.

Adding Product Descriptions and Images

Once you have installed the eCommerce extension for WordPress (here you will find some documentation for the initial setup), you can get started via -> Products -> Add Product in the backend:

Product Data
The WooCommerce input mask for creating new products

Lets start with the most basic functions:

  • The field Product Name is of course self-explanatory. Her you specify the name under which the product is to be displayed in the shop. This name will generally also become part of the permalink or the product URL. Read our Instructions for General WooCommerce Options in the tab “Products”, section “Settings”.
  • You already know the text field below – including the two editors Visual and Text – from the standard posting form in WordPress. Here you can input the more detailed version of the product description (the so-called Long Version), which will be displayed on the product page below the posted images. You can then use the visual editor or HTML tools to add design – provided your shop theme supports it. Enter the Product Short Description in the field of the same name below the product information input mask. It will generally be displayed next to the product image. Here an example from our Demo Shop Hamburg:
  • product description
    You can see the short description at the top right, and the long description at the bottom.
  • The “Save” and Publish functions for your products (see also the box of the same name at the very top of the sidebar on the right) work just like the editing of posts.
  • Directly underneath that you can specify Product Categories. These are created and managed via -> Products -> Categories, just like you are used to from posting categories. Make sure to be sparing with the number of categories, to give them unique and self-explanatory names, and to not assign individual products to too many separate sub-categories. You could otherwise create unnecessary problems with in terms of the operability of your shop. Make sure to read our post on webshop text creation.
  • The same applies for product tags. The shop theme must support their display.

    Important: Many of the function options and display options depend on how your WordPress or shop theme will handle them. Make sure to contact your theme provider first if the way your product is displayed differs from what we have explained, or if there are specific areas you simply can’t reproduce in your shop environment.

  • The images you wish to additionally display for your product are uploaded via the box Product Gallery. In most themes, these are displayed in the form of a small, clickable slideshow, which usually also includes the main image. This main image is specified via the function -> Featured Image -> Set featured image in the next step after “Product Gallery”.

Defining General Product Data

When adding a new product, you will find that the tab General in the box Product Data (just underneath the long description of the product) is preselected. In this description, we are focusing on the product type Simple Product only. The following is controlled via the selection boxes “Virtual” and “Downloadable”:

  • Virtual: WooCommerce will not charge Shipping Costs for virtual goods. This differentiation is particularly important if you sell goods that can be shipped and those that can’t.
  • Downloadable: Products with this tag will trigger a download, which means it is used if your shop offers music files, images, eBooks, etc. You specify via the basic settings in WooCommerce, what the technical and logistical (time of download) procedure should be. See also these instructions under the menu item “Downloadable Products”.

The other general fields and options are:

  • The article number (SKU) must be unique. It should furthermore not coincide with the Ids or numbers of WordPress entries, which will most likely eliminate the use of only numerals completely.
  • In addition to the Regular Price, you can also enter a Sale Price. The regular price will then mostly be shown crossed out, and the product is marked as a sale item. You can specify the length of time for which the sale prices should be valid via Schedule. If no duration is entered, then the sale price will remain valid until you remove it manually.
  • The Tax Status specifies on product level, whether value added or sales tax will be applied – in that case the regular price will be entered as the gross price, i.e. including VAT. If you select the tax status “Shipping only”, then only the shipping costs will be taxed. That, however, also depends on the WooCommerce tax options and the shipping settings. Read our instructions on the topic of Taxes (the option Tax Class is described in detail there too) and Shipping Options.

Manage Stock

The stock management function in WooCommerce allows you to specify the availability of your products in the shop. Click on the tab Inventory in the product data:

Stock Management in WooCommerce
Stock Management in WooCommerce
  • You can specify via the option Manage Stock?, whether WooCommerce should manage the stock of that particular product. Stock management can remain disabled for goods that are always available. This will eliminate the risk of accidentally listing a product in the shop as unavailable.
  • Stock Qty governs how many times a product is available, i.e. can still be sold. The quantity value is then displayed with the product (x in stock). When the stock quantity reaches 0, the notification “Out of Stock” will be displayed in the shop. That product can then no longer be added to the cart. (Unless you allow backorders, more on that in a bit.) The stock quantity is automatically reduced if a customer buys one or more of the same product. When new stock arrives, you will have to update the stock quantity manually.
  • The Stock Status (“in stock” or “not in stock”) is set automatically by WooCommerce depending on the stock quantity. Manual changes will have no effect, or will be reversed when the product is saved/updated.
  • Enabling the option Allow backorders? will have the following effect:
    • Allow: Customers can continue ordering the product even if the stock quantity is 0. That value will become negative depending on the number of backorders. Customers will not be given any indication in the shop that the product is actually out of stock, as it will continue to be shown as “in stock”. You will have to keep an eye on that yourself to ensure timely delivery, otherwise the misleading status “in stock” could have legal repercussions (warnings from competitors, etc.).
    • Allow, but notify customer: Here too, orders can still be placed even if the stock quantity is zero. During the order process, the customer will, however, see the notification “Available After Redelivery” The number of products for later delivery will also be displayed in the order overview as “Backordered”. If you are using this option, then a frequent check of the stock quantity is advisable to make sure you are not selling more goods than you can reorder.
    • Do not allow: That is the default setting. Only products actually in stock can be ordered.
  • When the option Sold Individually is enabled, then your customers can buy the product only one time per order, for example if you are offering one-offs or want to limit the delivery quantity. When this is the case, then the button “Quantity” is not visible on the product page.

Important: The inventory can be controlled with even more detail via the general settings, see the sub-item “Settings” on the tab “Products” -> Inventory in these instructions.

Product Data for Shipping

The tab Shipping is very intuitive:

Shipping Options on Product Level

Our documentation for the WooCommerce shipping options explains in detail what shipping groups or shipping classes are, and what they are used for.

The data input for Weight (kg) and Dimensions (cm) have no direct effect here. They are displayed for the customer nevertheless as additional information underneath the detailed product description:

The additional product information
The additional product information

The use of third party plugins will at least give the weight information some added meaning: Shipping costs can then be calculated by weight, which makes sense in particular for very heavy or bulky products. See also the instructions regarding shipping options.

Linked Products: Recommendation Marketing

The tab “Linked Products”
The tab “Linked Products”

A mighty marketing tool for your online shop hides behind this seemingly minor sub-item: The grouped display of similar or matching products on your product page. You have probably seen similar functions on big portals, like Amazon. They are supposed to entice the customer to place more items into the cart. The important part here is to link the right products to prevent competing with your own item the customer selected first! The best solution here is to keep trying.

Suitable products are then linked in WooCommerce manually:

  • Up-Sells: Enter the name (or any part of the name) of existing products in the shop in the input field; matching products can then be selected. These selected products are displayed at the very bottom of the page under the header “You might like this too”.
  • Cross-Sells: Better known as “cross-selling”. Cross-selling allows you to promote additional products that complement each other, for example the ink cartridges that fit a specific printer in an electronics shop. The products linked here will not be shown until the main product has landed in the cart. A separate section entitled “You may be interested in” will be displayed.
  • Grouping: This function allows you to create product bundles. We will offer more information on that topic in separate instructions.

Additional examples and plugin tips to boost sales with cross-selling can be found here.

Important: Some themes include the section Related Products on the product page. The products listed there cannot be selected manually, but are selected automatically based on product categories or product keywords.

Attributes & Advanced Options

Product attributes (see also the relevant tab) – e.g. several color or size variations – will mainly be needed for creating variable products. We will talk about these at length in separate instructions.

Aside from that main function, attributes can also be created for simple products. They will then appear underneath the long product description in a separate section entitled “Additional Information” on the product page. In many cases it may be advisable to maintain these additional product attributes in WooCommerce right from the start, as it will make a move to variable products (a dress in several sizes, an eBook in multiple formats) that much easier.

As a first step, create a new attribute, e.g. “size” via -> Products -> Attributes. Clicking the cogwheel on the right of the newly created attribute will allow you to define individual values, e.g. “L”, “XL”, etc.:

Attribute values are added via the cogwheel icon
Attribute values are added via the cogwheel icon

The Advanced tab in the product data input mask offers the following options:

  • Purchase Note: A message entered here will be included in your “Your Order is Complete” email next to the relevant product. Customers receive this email, once the purchase has been approved. This purchase note can for example include approval information for the release of digital products.
  • In the case of grouped products, the Menu Order governs the location at which the product you are currently working on will be displayed in the group list.
  • Selecting or unselecting the checkbox Enable Reviews will allow the relevant section to be displayed or hidden on the product page. That is how you can control the review function right down to product level.

Testing with Demo Content

You can try all the options described here without any risk if you create a local demo shop for testing purposes (see here for more information), and fill it with the WooCommerce dummy data. After all: for some settings it is a lot easier to see the actual workings to understand their true value.

We will create a separate set of instructions for the setup of grouped, external and variable products, which we will then link here as well. Our Tutorial Series offers tips on general WooCommerce settings, e.g. the tax and shipping options.

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Editor at MarketPress. Passionate blogger, corporate blog expert and book author (e.g. "Blog Boosting"). Co-organizer of WP Camp Berlin.

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