I’ve been working with and for WooCommerce for over eight years now, but I’ve never sold something with the most popular eCommerce software in the world. I honestly had no idea what to sell (or give away for that matter).
Until I recently was looking around at some Lightroom Presets. Each time I edit a batch of photos, I create a slightly tweaked preset for the set. As a result, I have 25+ presets just waiting on my personal Lightroom account. This seemed like the perfect thing to offer, and in the process learn a thing or two about WooCommerce.
Because that’s the core reason that I wanted to sell something: figure out what works well and what doesn’t. The actual sales aren’t the issue, so I’ve installed a testing payment gateway; you’ll be able to go through the checkout process for free and get the presets at the end.
What did I use?
Next to WooCommerce core, I wanted to keep it simple. I’ve used just two other plugins to get this shop up and running:
- MailPoet. I wanted to slightly tweak what the emails looked like, so I’ve used MailPoet for that.
- Paystack. When choosing a payment gateway, there are a myriad of options, but I wanted to use one that worked in my local currency (South African Rand). That left two main options: I’ve worked with PayFast quite a few times before, but I was yet to explore Paystack. While I didn’t go very far (as I just needed testing credentials), the UX is amazing. Purely based on that, I would likely recommend this to people living in South Africa.
All of this I am hosting on WordPress.com. Both of the higher priced plans allow for ecommerce functionality (but you get more guidance with the priciest one). ‘WooCommerce’ CEO also recently announced that we’ll have a hosted solution coming in 2023, so keep an eye out for that.
What went well?
Speed. The basics of WooCommerce are simple. Granted, I’ve been using it for a while, and I’ve set up many, many test sites before. But still, getting up and running (as in: able to sell a product) took me less than 15 minutes. It’s clear that we’ve made massive improvements to our onboarding process in the last few years.
Using MailPoet and Paystack. Even though MailPoet is a product that is part of our support division, I haven’t worked with it that often. It was easy to configure and set up. Paystack is one of our main payment partners in South Africa, but by far the one I have the least experience with. That said, their onboarding was amazing. I almost wanted to start a real business after getting the support they offer; not only does the UI look great, the coaching along the way was outstanding. For example, they pointed out some legal requirements for selling online in South Africa. I would feel confident in recommending them as a payment partner.
Reusable blocks. I love reusable blocks, and to create the WooCommerce section of this site, I used them for two different purposes:
- As patterns. For now, WordPress.com doesn’t allow me to create custom patterns. This is a bit annoying as I want the design across pages to look consistent. However, there’s a hack for that. Creating a reusable block and then—after inserting it—converting it to regular blocks allows you to still have some form of patterns available.
- As spaces where I can update details. For example, I’m currently listing the price as R19.99 (just above $1). As I mentioned, I don’t use the product template for this, but individual pages/posts. Should I want to change the price (or the currency), I would just update this pricing block in a single spot, and it would show up correctly everywhere. You’ll also see throughout the eCommerce sections of this site, that I’ve added a warning (see below). If I want to change the text, or the design, I can do so in one spot, and see it reflected everywhere.
⚠ I’ve set this shop up for test purposes only. You’ll be able to download these presets for free by going through the checkout as it’ll use a testing card number.
What still needs to improve?
Customising single product pages and product archives out of the box. I have a very specific need with what I’m selling: I need to show a before and after in the product image. But I’m also very lazy, so I want to avoid creating a custom product image each time. Especially since I found out that WordPress.com has an “Image Compare” block, which does exactly what I need, I didn’t want to even consider the long-winded custom product image approach.
I would’ve loved to build the template of my WooCommerce product from scratch, and even already include the image comparison, but this is not possible yet. The WooCommerce Blocks team is constantly making improvements, but for now, we’re limited to the template as defined by the theme.
Compatibility (I’m looking at you, Paystack). One of the WooCommerce blocks that already works beautifully is the checkout block. However, Paystack is incompatible with it for the time being. I asked the Paystack team about that in the WP Southern Africa Slack instance, and there they confirmed that this is coming early 2023. I’ve also submitted this as a bug/feature request here.
“Buy” my presets
Thanks for reading all this way. I’d love for you to test the process, so head over to the “Presets” page, and try to buy some presets (for free). Please leave a comment if you have suggestions on how to improve the experience.