Set Up an E-commerce Site Quickly with a WordPress Plug-in | WebReference

Set Up an E-commerce Site Quickly with a WordPress Plug-in

By Arpan Dhandhania


So you've had a brilliant idea for selling products online for some time now? You've worked out the details, and you just need someone to build you an e-commerce site. You get quotes from the web-development teams in your city and then reality hits! You can't afford to pay their rates. It is too big an investment in a business you are just starting. Just as you convince yourself that you need to save up a little more and then venture into this business, your neighbor's son Jason tells you that he can make you the Web site for a fraction of what the professionals quoted you.

When you discuss the details of your Web site with him, the conversation proceeds somewhat like this:

You: "Jason, so how do you plan to build the site at such a competitive cost?"

Jason: " I intend to use this e-commerce site building tool that is available on the Internet. I just need to customize it to your requirements and within a week you will have a fully functional e-commerce site."

You: "Within a week, WOW! But then it must be rather restrictive in terms of functionality. For example, can I give seasonal discounts, offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount or allow my customer to track the shipping status of their orders?"

Jason: "Absolutely. All that is possible. In fact, it also allows you to display the price in multiple currencies, generate discount coupons and cross-sell items to your customers too."

You are impressed with Jason's solution and you get him to build your site for you. In a week or so, you have a functional Web site and you are in business.

The readymade e-commerce tool that Jason used is actually a plug-in for WordPress called WP e-Commerce. The basic version is free, and you can buy additional modules.

In the following sections, I will explain how you can install and set up your e-commerce site using WP e-Commerce.

Installing WP e-Commerce

I assume that you have installed WordPress and have FTP access to the directory in which your WordPress files are located. Here are the steps to install the WP e-Commerce plug-in.

  1. Download the plug-in from
  2. Log in to the WordPress Admin panel. In the Plug-ins section, click on Add New. Click on the tab titled Upload, choose the plug-in file that you just downloaded, and click on install.
  3. The page will reload after the plug-in is installed. Check that there is a new section in the left sidebar titled Products.

Installing a Theme

After installing the plug-in, I suggest you use a theme that is built specifically for WP e-Commerce. The regular themes will work, but a WP e-Commerce-enabled theme will display all components on the Web site. Looking at that, you can keep the components that you want and hide those you don't. There are two themes that I would suggest you use: Crafty Cart and SimpleCart, the former being my preferred choice.

To install the theme, download it from the links provided above and then, using an FTP client, copy the folder of the theme into the /wp-content/themes/ folder. In the Admin panel, click on Appearance -> Themes and you should see the theme along with the other installed themes. To use the theme, click on Activate, and when the page reloads, you can visit the Web site. It should appear in the new theme.