I recently placed an order from a web site where there is no actual shipping, just a ‘local pick up’ only option. But to place an order on this site currently it must be done by email (or phone), and you sort of have to do the math yourself to determine what it’ll cost. Plus the product listing is just part of a large image.
I can’t imagine the organization nightmare on their end, but from a customer standpoint it isn’t very easy to place an order at all. I kept having to go back and forth between pages and even though there is an online contact form to place the order, I ended up writing it out in Notepad first for convenience. The company has very unique products that I really want so it is worth the hassle, but there is a much cleaner way. It would help them out on their end as well (for keeping track of orders, accounting, etc.), and as a bonus make the customer’s experience smoother. Plus, if the option is there for the customer to pay up front, it is less likely that they will abandon their order.
The Free WooCommerce Plugin Fits Nicely in this Scenario
The site is built upon WordPress so there are a plethora of options out there for setting up a “proper” store. A store where you could place actual orders with a shopping cart and even make payments online. Not to mention the reporting that could be done to manage the orders much easier.
But I get it. A lot of people just aren’t technical and plus, they are spending time running their business. They don’t want to mess around with building a store on the Internet, and truthfully it’s often hard to find someone to help when you aren’t sure what to ask. On top of that, everyone has a nephew or aunt or neighbor that “knows web sites” that can usually get the job partially done. But it’s a hard business to stay motivated in for many when they are just doing favors for loved ones or friends.
Fortunately it is a very simple process to get the store setup, especially when using WordPress as the content management system. WooCommerce to the rescue. It’s available as a free download from WooThemes. There are even free and premium themes from the same company that natively work with the plugin, but almost any theme will suffice, so rebranding is not necessary.
Installing the plugin is done just like any other. Here’s the quick process:
- 1. Download the plugin.
- 2. Click Plugins >> Add New.
- 3. Click Upload.
- 4. Click Choose File.
- 5. Double click the downloaded file (woocommerce.zip).
- 6. Click Install Now. It takes a minute or so to upload.
- 7. Click Activate Plugin.
Once activated you can jump to “Settings” to configure it, and “Docs” to learn more if you get stuck. There’s also a “Premium Support” option if you have more money than time and DIY isn’t your thing.
Stay tuned as I go through the process of setting up the store for local delivery in a subsequent article (or articles). I have been tasked with this job in exchange for products so you might as follow along as I build it out.
Part 2: Settings
Above I introduced the need for a commerce-type plugin for use in an online store that uses WordPress even if the store doesn’t actually “ship” products.
I talked about using the freely available powerful WooCommerce plugin by WooThemes. Lastly I went through the quick steps to get it installed. Easy so far. Now we do some real work, but I think/hope that you’ll still find it all to be straight forward none the less.
It turns out that the theme used on the shop that I am working with was built to work natively with the WooCommerce plugin. It uses the premium theme ‘Organic Shop’ by QuiteNiceStuff on ThemeForest. In the following steps though I will talk about its use irrespective of theme.
The Main Settings for the WooCommerce Plugin
In this section I am going to go through the settings that I needed to set to setup a “local pick-up” only type of shop in Canada.
First, under WooCommerce >> Settings we are going to go through the General Options.
I am going to choose “Canada – Ontario” for the Base Location. The software bases tax rates on this selection. In my case though, there is no tax for the food items being sold. Obviously, “Canadian Dollars ($)” is the best selection for Currency in my case.
I kept several options enabled, namely: coupon use, guest (no account required) checkout, customer notes, and allow registration. I turned on the option to allow customers to repurchase orders from their account page. This is handy for this store in particular because the order is often the same each week.
In the Settings >> Catalog section there are some settings related specifically to a store that uses shipping. I turned them all off. These include: enabling SKU, weight, dimension fields, and showing the ‘weight and dimension’ values on the ‘additional info’ tab.
There are settings that I really like and I left on. They have to do with the settings for Product Ratings. These affect the use of ratings and reviews on the site, and marking certain reviews as “verified” if they are left by a real customer of a particualr product. Awesome features here.
Setting up Pages for the Shopping Cart
There are also some mandatory pages that need creating. Some will be child pages, others are parents, while others are stand alone. These include: cart, checkout, pay, thanks, my account, edit address, view order, change password, layout, and lost password.
If you have a “WooCommerce ready” theme, these pages will likely already exist and be styled appropriately. Even when doing it manually though, it’s no big deal. The content of each page is simply a shortcode and the plugin handles the rest. But fortunately, WooCommerce automates this task for us. At the top of the page is an Install WooCommerce Pages button. Go ahead and click that to get all of the required pages setup with their proper shortcodes. All pages get created automatically except for the “terms” page.
Next we go deeper into the settings and setup for the local online shop.
Part 3: Inventory
In the last couple parts to this article we introduced the free “online shop” WooCommerce plugin, got it installed and went through some of the main settings.
Now we will continue on getting this plugin setup and configured. We are working towards using it for a local pickup online store (i.e. no shipping) and we’re working through the steps so that the theme being used is not relevant. In other words, using a WooCoomerce ready theme (there are free and paid ones available) should not be needed when following along.
Enabling stock management from the Settings >> Inventory tab of the WooCommerce plugin may or may not be necessary. It depends on the nature of the store and the amount of “automation” and sometimes “extra work” that is required or desired.
In the case of the “food business” that I am working with, the company is preparing food items “fresh” and bringing them to a central point in the city for pickup. Some of the items are made to order, others are made in advance to satisfy foot traffic at the local Farmer’s Market.
Stock management probably isn’t necessary in this case for the most part and will probably create more work than necessary for the rare instance that it may be handy.
Setting up Tax for Products
This plugin is very thorough in terms of how tax can be setup. Taxes and tax calculations are disabled by default as there are pretty important settings that need to be looked it if turning on tax calcualtions.
You can set it so that the price already has the tax included within it, a feature often not found in commerce software. You can also setup and define additional tax classes based on the product.
By default “standard,” “reduced rate,” and “zero rate” tax classes are created.
Turn Off Shipping and Enable Local Pickup
Most online stores ship stuff. It’s the nature of the game. But there is a space for local pickup shops on the Web and that is what this series of articles aims to point out.
Shipping (from Settings >> Shipping) is enabled by default. It can be turned off with a couple of clicks.
Some of the default shipping methods setup include: flate rate, free shipping, international delivery, local delivery and local pickup.
In my case I am using “local pickup” only. “Local delivery” however will be an option for this store in the very near future. It’s nice because you can list all the postal (or zip) codes that you are willing to deliver to.
Anyway, as for local delivery cost, it can be: free, a fixed amount, a percentage of the cart total, or a fixed amount per product.
The Standard Payment Gateways are More Than Enough
Many free shopping cart plugins will not offer any payment gateways unless you pay for an upgrade. The WooCommerce plugin works out of the box with direct bank transfer, cheque payment, cash on delivery, credit card, and PayPal.
These provide more than enough payment options for local pickup (or delivery).
Lastly, we will continue on with some of the settings and walk through adding a product for the local store.
Part 4: Email Templates
We introduced the WooCommerce plugin by WooThemes, got it installed and mostly configured. We went through the basic and catalog settings, created some pages, and discussed inventory and tax.
Further we setup shipping to use “local pickup” only, which was the real purpose of this article, making this store stand out from your typical online store.
Then we discussed the wide variety of out-of-the-box payment gateway options that come with WooCommerce, which provide more than enough choice for a local delivery/pickup or even a more advanced International online shop. Now let’s walk through the email templates, integration settings and product setup options.
Email Settings for the Local Shop
Many emails are sent and received using this plugin. The shop owner can decide the layout of all the emails, and HTML emails (with logos and headers) can be sent as well.
Email templates exist for:
>> New Order – these are sent out to the defined recipients for each new order placed by a customer.
>> Processing Order – these emails are sent to customers letting them know that their order has been received. The email also contains order details.
>> Completed Order – these emails are sent to customers when an order is marked as “complete.” This could indicate the order has been shipped, or confirmation that an order is prepared and is ready for local pickup or delivery. This can be turned off so that no email is sent when changing the status. In our case (for local pickup) “customer note” emails are used to indicate that the order was received by a human.
>> Customer Invoice – these emails can be sent to customers if they owe money. They will contain order info and payment options and links.
>> Customer Note – When a note is added to an order, this email is triggered. This is a great way to let people know of product replacement options if something is out of stock. It’s also a great way to let customers know that an order was received by a human for shops that do local pickup and/or delivery only.
There are also “reset password” and “new account” emails that can be sent out when the appropriate action is triggered by the customer. Like all email types, these can be customized or turned off/on.
Social and Statistical Integration
Finally, in the last tab (under Settings >> Integration) we can setup some stats and sharing options.
It has built in support (with advanced features) for Google Analytics. It also integrates “ShareThis” allowing visitors and customers to share products with friends in a variety of social circles on the web.
It also has a “Share Your Cart” feature allowing customers to share the contents of their cart with friends, which statistically increases social media exposure by 10%.
Adding Products Using the Custom Post Type ‘Products’
A new post type is created for products with the Woo Commerce plugin. You can get very advanced with product creation here. You can create categories and tags specific to products as probably expected. And you can also define attributes and shipping classes if needed.
You have the ability to add a featured image like usual, but also a gallery of images for each product.
The rest of the settings depend on product type. WooThemes doesn’t group “virtual” and “downloadable” products, and they can be defined and configured differently. Beyond that there are settings for: simple products, grouped products, external or affiliate products, and variable products.
You can even select products to use in up-sells (this would be a product or list of products that you recommend instead of the product being viewed – it may be more expensive or more feature rich), or cross-sells (products that would “complement” this product perhaps).
Well, that sums everything up. I think that the WooCommerce plugin is very versatile and a great plugin for use with almost any online store setup. It covers all online stores that I have encountered and I have worked with International delivery with complex shipping and taxes, and local delivery and pickup stores.
So, if setting up an online store, I say to use WordPress and WooCommerce together, and not because they are both free either. Try the combo yourself to see.