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How to Start an Online Store in 2021

Selling online means posting with Facebook which works for many as its easy and free. But when your product range is more than ten items you are going to experience many restrictions in your posts. This is when you need to think of alternative methods to build your own online store?

I know that building an online store can be a terrifying thought especially when you are not technically inclined.

Well, you’re not alone. I have helped many users starting their online store and are very pleased to have followed my advise.

I have decided to create the most comprehensive guide on how to build your online store using the WordPress technology as it makes life so easier.

What Do You Need to Start an Online Store?

You are in luck as it had never been a better time to start an online business than today.

Anyone with a computer can get started within a matter of minutes and without acquiring any special skills.

The three things you need to start an online store are:

  1. A domain name idea (this will be the name of your online store i.e mywebstore.co.za)
  2. A web hosting account (this is where your website lives on the internet)
  3. Your undivided attention for 30 minutes.

Yep, it is really that simple.

You can setup your own online store with WordPress in less than 30 minutes and we’ll walk you through each step of the process.

In this tutorial, we will cover:

  • How to Register a Domain Name
  • How to Choose the Best Hosting for (Word Press) WooCommerce
  • How to Install and Set up WordPress
  • How to Create a WooCommerce store
  • How to Add Products in your Online Store
  • How to Select and Customize Your Theme
  • How to Extend Your Online Store with Plugins
  • Learning to Learn WordPress & Grow Your Business

Ready? Let’s get started.

explainer video

Step 1: Setting up Your Online Store Platform

The biggest mistake most users make is not choosing the right platform for their online store.

Thankfully you’re here, so hopefully you won’t be making any mistakes.

There are two popular eCommerce platforms that we recommend: Shopify or WordPress + WooCommerce.

Shopify is a fully hosted eCommerce solution that starts at R420 per month. It’s a hassle-free solution where you just login and start selling. The downside to Shopify is that it gets quite expensive, and your payment options are limited unless you pay additional fees.

This is why most users choose WordPress + WooCommerce because of the flexibility it offers. It does require some setup, but it’s worth doing it for the long run. WooCommerce is the world’s largest eCommerce platform.

In this tutorial, we will walk you through how to setup an online store in WordPress using WooCommerce.

To setup your store, you need to have a

  • Domain Name
  • Web hosting
  • SSL certificate.

A domain name is your website’s address on the internet. It is what users will type in their browsers to reach your website (Do read for more information).

Web hosting is where your website lives on the internet. It’s your website’s house on the internet. Every website on the internet needs web hosting (Do read for more information)..

SSL certificate adds a special security layer on your website, so you can accept sensitive information such as credit card numbers and other personal information. This is required for you to accept credit card payments on your website. If you order hosting with us you will recieve a free SSl certificate.

To order a domain name wit us will costs around R70,00 per year and web hosting will costs for a basic package R70,00 per month, and SSL certificate comes free with the hosting package.

So basically you will need to lay out R140 to start and then R70 per month for the basic hosting package.

Let’s go ahead and purchase your domain + hosting + SSL.

Open up Lashmar Media in a new window using this link and follow along.

You will be asked to begin the by searching for your perfect domain name.

Enter your name of choice, the system will check if this name is available, if not it will tell you and give you alternative names with prices for you to consider using.

However if your name is available you will see this window.

Do select the button “Add to Cart” this will change to “Checkout”. Now we need to select the “Add Web Hosting”  select the yellow button “Explore packages now”

You will be now asked to select the hosting package.

Once you have chosen the package then select the button “Order Now” The domain which you have added to the Cart earlier will be in listed as your preferred domain name.

You still have the possibility to alter the name if you so choose. Now press the blue button next to the domain name “Use”. You will be directed to the “Configure” Window which will summarize your Web Hosting package.

To proceed you need to select the blue button “Continue”.

This is for advance users, which offers extra services like DNS Management Protection and Email Forwarding. You can skip this by selecting the blue button “Continue”.

Now you can review your order and registration before checking out. At the bottom is where you would add the promotion code if you have received this via a promotion. If you are satified with the everything you can select the green button under the total value to proceed.

Now you will be asked to submit you personal details for the registration of the domain and this will be your property and your billing information.

If you have an account with us you just need to select “Already Registered?” or use the blue button to sign up with Facebook credentials. Here please fill in your Personal Information and your billing address. If you scrowl further down You will need to select the Domain Registrant Information if you are the owner of the site Leave the default “Use Default Contact (Deatails Above). This is only for use if you are registering this site for someone else. Here you will need to add that persons details.

Account Security is for you to select a qood Password for your account. Please write the password down so you can retrieve it when you want to log on to your account again. If you scrowl down further

 

And Lastly, Payment Details. You can select between the three options. For a fast online payment with credit or debit card select the PayFast Option which is set at default pament gateway. Alturnatively you could select your PayPal account. The third option is an EFT Payment. This can take up to 24hours before the payment is processed but sending us a PoP will speed up the registration process.

You could join our mailling lists for updates and news.
Now if you totally satified you can go ahead and select the blue button “Complete Order”.

Do contact our support if you do experience any difficulties or have any queries.

One the payment has been processed you will recieve a welcome email with all your login information regarding your hosting server.

Step 2. How to install WordPress

Once you have completed the payment process you have received a couple of emails. 

The email you need to read is the “New Account Information”
Look for “Login Details” you will have the “Control Panel URL” Select this and you will be transferred to your new site on our server.

Enter the given Username and Password and you will have access to your cPanel.

You will be greeted with this “Back end” of your website, where you are able to add emails, make various changes to accommodate your site.

You need to scroll down to the bottom of this panel.

The second last column where it reads SOFTACULOUS APPS INSTALLER in the first row “Scripts” select the WordPress icon.

The WordPress install window will open

Now choose the blue button “Install Now” the following window will open. Here you need to check the following setting to insure that your WordPress site works properly.

First of all insure that your site Protocol is set to https:// at “Choose Installation URL” a drop menu will have various options but choose the “https://” or “https://www.” option. (This is secure hyperlink with SSL certificate).

IMPORTANT! In “Choose Installation URL” there is the first column with the “Protocol” then second column is the “Domain” and in the third column “in Directory” this must be kept blank, so please erase the default value “wp” else this is going to load the WordPress into this directory and not the main directory.

Now we start with “Site Settings” your Site Name (Default is My Blog) in this example we will be using “My Web Store” as a site name.

Site Description is to add a tag to your site name. (Default is My WordPress Blog). I am going to use “Best Online Store” as an example. You can use what ever describes your business the best.

Admin Account is very important as this will be your login to your website to make the front end changes. Use the default as in this example. “m6om1” and the suggested password “f1%SB81&D&”. Do write it down as you will need it after you have completed this install process.

At Select Plugin(s) just leave them blank as we will select our plugins at a later stage.

Skip Advance Options and Select Theme.

Now you can select the blue button “Install” The whole process should not take more than a minute.

Congratulations you have successfully installed WordPress to your website.

Do note the two URL links shown.

WordPress has been successfully installed at :
https://mywebstore.co.za/ <- this would be your website online as the visitors to you site will see it.
Administrative URL : https://mywebstore.co.za/wp-admin/ <- This is the link to your admin control panel.

***PLEASE NOTE: The all Usernames, Passwords and URL links shown in this example have been deleted.
This was just to serve as an example for this tutorial***

Step 3. Setting up WordPress

First we need to login to your website. Enter the Administrative URL : https://mywebstore.co.za/wp-admin/ in your browser.

This is how the WordPress login looks like, now enter the admin username and the password which you earlier on wrote down when installing WordPress. Select the “Remember Me” which keeps you logged in the admin panel. Now press the blue “Log In” button.

 Welcome to your WordPress dashboard. This is where you will be building your store and making alterations to your site.

First, you need to visit Settings » General page to setup your WordPress site title and description.

Setting up HTTPS to Use SSL

Your WordPress hosting package came with a free SSL Certificate. This certificate is pre-installed for your domain name. However, your WordPress site needs to be configured, so it loads as https vs http.

On the Settings » General page, you need to change your WordPress Address and Site Address to use https instead of http.

Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the save changes button to store your settings.

Your basic WordPress setup is complete. Now it is time to setup your online store.

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