Setting up WooCommerce Part 7 – Email distribution and templates

Regardless of whether it involves order processing or the administration of the customer account: The buyers in your WooCommerce shop receive numerous emails. How they can be designed and some of the things you need to pay attention to, are the subject of part 7 in our series of articles.

Via the email option of WooCommerce (see -> WooCommerce -> Settings -> Emails) you can configure the basic settings for the individual templates. Even the templates themselves, i.e. the appearance and text content, can be adapted, but more on that later.

An important note beforehand: In Germany and Austria there are numerous legal requirements that individual emails of online shops to their customers are required to contain. This pertains to legally relevant information such as:

  • Terms and Conditions
  • Information on withdrawal
  • Information on payment methods, shipping costs and delivery
  • Legal Notice

These templates are not integrated in the German language translation of WooCommerce. Ideally, you should consult an attorney in order to create the texts, as how they should be phrased depends on the type of shop and products you have. Then you can integrate them into the individual templates.

As an alternative, you can use our WooCommerce German Market plugin, which supports you with relevant templates and – where necessary – automatically integrates them into the WooCommerce emails. But even then, you should seek legal advice in order to be on the safe side with your online shop.

General Settings

The Email Settings of WooCommerce
The Email Settings of WooCommerce
  • Via the From name and From email address, you specify, in whose name and with which sender’s address the emails are to be sent out.

    Note: WooCommerce uses the standard WordPress function wp_mail() for email distribution. In case the email distribution from your shop does not work, this usually indicates a server problem.

  • If you want to personalize the header section of your shop emails, you can store an appropriate image under Header image (in the section Email Template). In case this is already stored on your Web server, it is only necessary to enter the image URL here. Otherwise, you can use the upload link WordPress media library on the right, next to the input field. In the standard templates from WooCommerce, the ideal width of the header image is 600 pixels, as this is not automatically scaled.
  • By means of the Email footer text you can adapt the footer text of your messages, normally the legal notice is displayed there. In order to activate the individual footer, the option Use email footer text must be selected at the same time. Important: If you use our WooCommerce German Market (WGM) plugin, the legal notice controlled by WGM is no longer automatically integrated. This means you’re required to enter it manually in the footer text and keep it up-to-date there.

Tip: You can use the link „Click here to preview your email template“ to review at any time how the settings are affecting the email template of WooCommerce. This is located directly at the beginning of the section „“Email Template“.

The last four fields are for modifying the basic colors of your emails, including the background and text color:

The fields for the color scheme of emails
The fields for the color scheme of emails

The colors are entered here in HTML or hexadecimal format.

Adaptation of specific templates

At the very top of the email option page of WooCommerce you will find the links to the individual templates such as New order, Processing order, Customer invoice, etc. The options can be further adapted there. This involves not only messages sent out to customers, but also status emails for you (for the logistical processing of your orders).

Note: The actual content of your emails depends on numerous WooCommerce settings, such as the various payment options. But WooCommerce enhancements also intervene in this process in the same way that our WooCommerce German Market plugin integrates legally relevant notes. That is why you should test your order process extensively and with all possible versions. Only then is it possible to make a final check of the resulting emails before they are sent out to customers.

Here is an overview of the individual emails and their setting options.

New order

You receive this notification as soon as an order comes in. It informs you as to the type and quantity of the ordered products, the details on the customer, the invoice address as well as the payment method.

  • Via Enable/Disable, the distribution of this email can be switched on or stopped. The option is available on all templates. In this, please note the legal aspects that require you to send individual customer messages.
  • The Recipient(s) email address for this message can be individually specified, for instance, if your shop is being operated by a team. Even several recipients can be defined (each separated by a comma).
  • By means of the Subject, you modify the subject line of the message. In this, WooCommerce allows the use of variables – that is very helpful towards achieving a highly efficient order procedure. Here’s an example: The short code {order_number} integrates the order number into the text.

    Tip: In addition, there is also {order_date} for the order date and {site_title} for the site title or shop name of your portal. This entry in the WooThemes support forum demonstrates how additional short codes and variables can be integrated.

  • The Email Heading defines the header within the email.
  • The Email type determines the format in which your shop emails will be distributed. The options are HTML, plaintext or Multipart.

Processing order

The message contains details on the order, it is sent out as a receipt confirmation to your customers. Where applicable – for instance, for the payment type Bank transfer – all the payment instructions are automatically integrated. Otherwise, the options can be adapted according to the email New Order.

Completed order

This confirmation email goes out to customers as soon as you mark the corresponding order in WooCommerce as complete. As a general rule, you specify the status when you have shipped the order.

  • Subject (downloadable): If purely digital products are contained in the cart, WooCommerce sends the Order complete email with the subject stored here. With a mixture of normal and digital products, the standard subject applies. That is why this instrument only has limited application for the content management of the various delivery scenarios.
  • The same applies to Email Heading (downloadable).

Customer invoice

Also for the invoice that is sent out to the customer, two different subject lines and headers can be controlled. If the customer still has to pay, using the option of a bank transfer, for instance, then the first two standard fields Email subject and Email heading are integrated into the customer invoice.

If the payment transaction has been completed, however, such as with payment by credit card or PayPal, then the contents of both fields Email subject (paid) and Email heading (paid) come into play.

Likewise, the previously described variables {order_number}, {order_date} and {site_title} can be inserted. You can also adapt the entries stored in the fields, as the variables are already integrated.

Customer note

In the order administration of WooCommerce (under -> WooCommerce -> Orders) you can generate a message to the customer in the right-hand sidebar under the item Order notes -> Add note. An email is then sent to him:

Sending notifications to customers from within WooCommerce
Sending notifications to customers from within WooCommerce

Only few shop merchants are aware of this option. It enables individual messages to be sent to customers of the particular order – directly from within WooCommerce – without having to switch to an email program and writing them individually each time. This saves lots of time. The selection box must be set to „Customer note“ (see screen shot above).

In the corresponding email template, you can individually adapt the subject as well as the header of the notification messages.

Reset password and new account

Customers with a customer account can reset their password or request a new one, in case they have forgotten it. The basic elements of the relevant email can be adapted here. The same applies in case a New account is created.

Adaptation directly in the email templates

In order to adapt the emails of your shop above and beyond the described options, you have to overwrite and edit the respective templates. This requires additional knowledge of HTML, CSS and PHP.

Note: To begin with, the templates of WooCommerce – available in the plugin subfolder woocommerce/templates/emails/ – must be copied into your theme or child theme (there in your-theme/woocommmerce/emails/). It is generally worthwhile for these and similar purposes to work with a child theme. We’ll show you in these instructions how you can create one.

While there are numerous WooCommerce extensions enhancing email functionality (see here), most of them, however, are not adapted to German-speaking countries, for instance, with regard to legal requirements. Interesting in this regard:

  • The paid plugin Email Attachments: As the name implies, this enables you to append attachments to individual email templates (we have not validated this tool).
  • WooCommerce Email Validation – a free enhancement – runs a check on the email address provided by the customer in terms of its validity. At least the most important criteria are validated in the process.

In case you know of additional ways in which the email process in WooCommerce can be optimized, we look forward to your comments.

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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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