You’ve got your new online shop – but what do you do next?!
What’s this article about then?
We try to write guides to help you with the sites we’ve built for you. If you google ‘how to update a WooCommerce site’ you’ll likely end up with a list of technical articles telling you how to install WooCommerce and set it up from scratch. This guide does not do that. This guide talks you through the common tasks you, as a new online store manager, will need to carry out on at least an occasional basis.
Explaining the new Menu Items
When you log into your site you’ll see some extra menu options on the left hand side. WooCommerce, Products, Analytics and Marketing. First up a quick explanation of each of these before we dive into the detail!
This is where the store is set up and configured – eg your shipping rates, payment gateways, taxes, and discount rules. But it’s also where you will find your Orders and your Customers!
You guessed it … here’s where your products are configured, along with all the other things that define them such as tags, attributes, categories and brands (more on all of this later). It’s also where you’ll see product reviews.
We love this tab! It’s where you’ll see your store’s performance and top selling products. If you like stats and graphs, you’ll love this!
If you have any marketing plugins, such as MailChimp or TrustPilot. We won’t go into any more detail on this at the moment, as none of our WooCommerce sites leverage this yet. But when they do, help will appear here!
Ok. So that’s the new WooCommerce menu items explained. Let’s explore some of the more common tasks.
I’ve got an order!
Congratulations! What to do now though?
When a customer buys a product on your store you’ll get an email confirming the order. It’s then up to you to fulfil the order. If your product is ‘virtual’ eg an e-book, the order will have automatically completed. But it’s likely you don’t have a virtual product. In this case the order will be set to a ‘processing’ status in WordPress.
We’re not going to rewrite the WooCommerce user guides here, so to find out more about order statuses here’s the official guide: https://woocommerce.com/document/managing-orders/. What we will do though is replicate their very handy visual diagram!
So when you get an order, you’ll need to update the status from processing to completed. Doing this will issue an ‘order completed’ email to the customer. So it’s an important step to take.
Other steps you may have to take might be to refund the order, cancel it or manually move an order on from ‘on hold’ to processing – for instance when you are awaiting a cheque for payment for an order.
Whilst we’re on that subject here’s a list of all the emails that come by default with WooCommerce. You’ll also get emails about any failed orders (eg invalid card details)
OK so that’s a quick overview of orders. Next up – products!
Explaining Different Types of Product
There are 4 basic types of products: simple, variable, grouped and external. A simple product is a thing that you buy with no variations for example a wireless mouse for your computer. There may be many different types of mice, but ultimately you are buying one type of mouse that comes ‘as is’. Contrast this with a T-Shirt which many come in many different sizes* and colours* – the t-shirt is a variable product. These are the most common.
* Sizes and colours here are known as product ‘attributes’.
Sometimes we may set up a ‘grouped’ product. The example WooCommerce use is a lounge suite. The suite can be set up as a group of products which can also be bought on their own. So for instance the suite might consist of a 3 seater sofa, an armchair and a footstool. This allows a customer to add multiple related items to their cart from one product page.
Product Attributes and Variable Products
Where we have variable products we can configure a list of attributes to control the variations. Let’s take the T Shirt example again. We have a Size attribute (XS, S, M, L, XL) and a Colour attribute (Red, Green, Blue). By assigning these 2 attributes to the product we can then generate product variations and allow the customer to pick a size and colour. Stock control, pricing and sales pricing can be set at variation level. In the store the customer is then asked to select size and colour before adding the T Short to their cart.
We can set a product (or indeed a variation of a product) to be ‘virtual’ and ‘downloadable’ to allow a customer to buy, say, an e-book or an audio recording. In such cases the order will automatically complete on payment and the customer will get a download link with their order. Take for instance a book. It could have a few variations: paperback, hardback, ebook (pdf) or ebook (epub). 2 variations would be virtual and the other 2 physical.
Editing or Adding a new Product
We’ll set up the products for you initially, but you’ll likely want to edit them and there are lots of things you can do here. This is the guide you want to read: https://woocommerce.com/document/managing-products/
One important thing to note though is that when adding a new product we would always recommend you duplicate an existing one with similar attributes.
We’re not going to just point you at the WooCommerce documentation and leave you to it though – but you should use it as your reference guide.
The Product Layout Explained
When you edit or add a product the screen is split into two. The central section is the main product data, and on the right hand side is an area where you can alter categories, tags, brands and photos.
Please remember when you are updating product images to follow our image processing guide here: https://www.greystokewebdesign.co.uk/help/editing-media-on-wordpress/ A great image size to use for WooCommerce is a 600px x 600px square. Remember as well that your product needs to be centred in the image with some space around it for the best results, in our opinion at least!
The Main Product Data Section
Working down from the top on the main product data section you’ll find these sections:
First up is the product description – usually displayed under the product
Then comes the Yoast SEO block – here you set your keyphrase, meta description, slug and title. For more information see our SEO Quick Start Guide
Next is the product data. This is where you set the product type, shipping, any linked products, and add attributes to generate your variations, if you have them. Variable products will have the price set at variation level. Simple products have the price set at the ‘general’ tab. If we’ve set up any custom tabs for your products, such as a coverage calculator, then you’ll also be able to edit those here too.
One important tool for variable products is the bulk edit dropdown on the variations tab. This allows you to edit all variations at once – useful if you are applying a price increase, or putting products on sale.
Managing Product Reviews
One of the options under the Product tab is ‘Reviews’. Here you’ll be able to approve or unapprove, delete and reply to customer product reviews.
If we’ve added brands to your store, then you can also manage brands under the product section. It’s important to remember SEO here and to make sure to set a good description and configure your Yoast options for each brand you add.
The analytics tab lets you deep dive into your shop. You can see your store’s revenue, your best selling products and variations. You can compare performance against the previous period, and download reports.
We use the Astra Pro theme to build eCommerce sites because it allows us to customise pages. This is great for the customer experience, but as a new store manager this means you may have something else you need to edit or create.
You’ll find custom layouts under Astra / Custom Layouts. When we create them we’ll always give them meaningful names to help you identify the correct one for instance <Brand> Header or <Brand> Footer. Editing the content should then be easy enough. See our getting started guide on that here: https://www.greystokewebdesign.co.uk/help/wordpress-content-updates/
If you want to create a new custom layout, for a new brand page, for example, then the best bet is to start by copying an existing one. Then ‘all’ you need to do is update the content and edit the Display and User Conditions (from the Astra button on the right hand column). In the example below we have a custom header showing on a specific category page, which can be selected from a dropdown.
We’ve explained the new tabs you’ll see on the left hand admin menu and given you an overview of what they cover. We’ve gone into more detail on order processing and product editing. And we’ve linked to the key WooCommerce Support pages. It’s entirely possible for you to edit your own store and make all the day to day adjustments you need. But remember, we’re always on hand to help if you find it daunting to start with. And we can offer tuition to get you up and running on any particular process. We hope you found this guide useful!
If you’d like support on any aspect of your WooCommerce store, get in touch!