WooCommerce Singapore Review: What is it and How to Build Your E-commerce Website Singapore for under S$500 with WooCommerce

If you've been checking around on how to create your own e-commerce store, the name 'WooCommerce' must have come up more than once.

That's because on top of being one of the most established free e-commerce management systems (CMS) in the market, it's also one of easiest to use.

But is it something you should use to build your e-commerce website in Singapore?

Having built e-commerce websites with WooCommerce and e-commerce site builders like Shopify, I'll give you my honest opinion of WooCommerce, who it's best for and what to expect from it.

If you've asked yourself if you should use WooCommerce for your e-commerce site in Singapore, look no further.

By the end of this post, you'll be able to make an educated decision on whether you should use WooCommerce for your new e-commerce store, or go for another option. 

If you do decide to use WooCommerce for your e-com store, I'll show you how to set up a professional looking one too!

Let's get into it:

WooCommerce: Quick Look

What it is: WooCommerce is a free e-commerce CMS built-on top of the WordPress CMS you can use to create e-commerce stores.

Cost: S$300 - S$500 for a basic setup

Pros

Cons

  • Free CMS
  • More customisation options compared to e-commerce builders like Shopify
  • Access to backend code for customisation
  • No recurring fees for e-commerce CMS
  • Storage and product number only limited to hosting
  • To add more features on top of core features, you'll need premium plugins
  • Requires some technical skills to set up and customise
  • Hosting and domain needs to be bought separately


What is WooCommerce?

Let's start by taking a look at exactly how WooCommerce works and some common questions people have about WooCommerce:

How Does WooCommerce Work?

WooCommerce is free e-commerce content management system (CMS) that’s built on top of the WordPress CMS.

At its core, WooCommerce is a plugin you install on WordPress that helps you add e-commerce capabilities to your site.

It has all the basic features for you to create your storefront, manage your orders, and create promotions.

While its basic features are usually enough for new stores, if you're planning on expanding your store's features, you'll likely need to invest in premium WooCommerce plugins.

Is WooCommerce Really Free?

Almost.

While the CMS is free, you'll likely find yourself needing to buy premium plugins to expand the features of your WooCommerce store.

These cost anywhere between US$20 - 40 to a few hundred dollars per plugin.

On top of that, you'll likely need to spend money on a premium theme if you want to do away with the basic themes WooCommerce provides for free.

Overall, you're likely going to set yourself back a few hundred to over a thousand dollars to get a full-fledged store for yourself with WooCommerce.

It's true: WooCommerce isn't for Everyone

While WooCommerce is generally considered an 'easy-to-use' e-commerce CMS, you still need to have some level of technical skills if you plan on setting up your e-commerce store yourself.

A simple test to see if you can work with WooCommerce is if you can install WordPress on your own site from scratch.

If you've done this before, it's likely you'll be able to work easily with WooCommerce.

On the other hand, if you've never installed WordPress before, you'll likely experience a steep learning curve if you want to create your e-commerce store with WooCommerce.

This can take up a lot of your time - at least a few weeks and sometimes, up to half a year!

If you'd rather launch your e-commerce store fast and not spend the time to learn WooCommerce, I highly recommend you to use a drag-and-drop website builder like Shopify instead.

What Can You Sell with WooCommerce?

This is a popular question people ask with any e-commerce solution: what can you sell with it?

Can you sell physical products?

Can you sell digital products?

Can you drop ship?

The answer to all the above are yes. WooCommerce is flexible enough to fit every single online business model you can think of.

So, regardless of the product you're selling, you'll likely find a way to do it on WooCommerce.

WooCommerce Compared with Other Popular Free E-commerce CMS

Now that you've seen what WooCommerce is, who it's for and what you can sell with it, let's stack it up against another popular e-commerce CMS in the market and see how it measures up:

WooCommerce vs Magento

Before WooCommerce came into the picture, Magento held the title for the easiest-to-use e-commerce CMS in the market. But today, it's considered an enterprise solution next to WooCommerce.

Let's take a look at their differences:

WooCommerce

Magento

Any number of products

Any number of products

Easy to set up using WordPress

Requires intermediate level skills to set up

Suitable for hobbyists

Made for enterprises

Large number of extensions available, can integrate with any plugin that integrates with WordPress

Only Magento extensions available

Large number of free and premium themes available

Themes limited to Magento's marketplace themes

As you will notice, Magento is mostly designed for bigger companies with a budget to hire a technical guy to handle all their e-commerce store.

But if you're a one-man show or working on an e-commerce project with a few friends, and none of you have much skills beyond building a site with WordPress, WooCommerce will be the better choice for you.

How to Install WooCommerce on Your Site: The Step-by-Step

Now that you've seen how WooCommerce measures up with other CMS players like Magento and BigCommerce, let's get into how you can get started building your own e-commerce store with WooCommerce:

Step 1: Get a Domain Name and Hosting and Install WordPress

Before getting started, you'll need to get a domain name and hosting.

The hosting company I recommend is SiteGround. It's my #1 choice for affordable but fast hosting with great support.

The best thing about SiteGround is that it has data centres right here in Singapore. That means if your customers are mostly based in Singapore or in the region, your e-com store will load with enviable speeds.

The cheapest plan starts at just $3.95/month for first-time buyers: 

I recommend going for 2 - 3 years to secure your first-time discount. This will give you time to build your store.

You can add a domain name to your plan in SiteGround or connect one from external registrars (if you don't want to get too technical, I recommend just buying your domain name from SiteGround for now).

Step 2: Install WordPress

Once you've set up your domain and hosting, you'll need to install WordPress.

If you went with SiteGround in Step 1, you can do this with just one click.

First, go to your My Account > cPanel and look for the WordPress button under 'WordPress Tools':

Click on the 'WordPress Installer' and follow the instructions inside to set up WordPress for your site.

Step 3: Install WooCommerce

Once you have WordPress installed, you can now install the WooCommerce plugin.

To do this, go to the left sidebar and look for 'Plugins'. Hover your mouse over the item to bring out the sub-menus.

In the sub-menus, click on 'Add New'. You'll get to a plugins page. On the right search bar, key in 'WooCommerce' and the WooCommerce plugin will show up:

I've already installed WooCommerce on my site so the above photo shows 'Installed', but if you have not, you'll see the button display 'Install' instead.

Click on 'Install'.

Once it is done installing, click on 'Activate' to use WooCommerce.

There are a few setup steps to go through once you activate the plugin.

Follow the instructions inside to configure your WooCommerce e-com store to fit your business.

That's it - you now have WooCommerce installed on your site!

Step 4: Decide on your store design

Once you've installed WooCommerce, you can now start setting up your e-com store.

The first thing you'll need to do is choose a theme. An e-com website theme will determine how your storefront looks and what front-end features you want to have.

WooCommerce comes with a few free e-commerce themes, but from my experience, you will soon find these themes rather limiting and really hard to customise.

You'll need to spend a ton of time getting your hands dirty with the backend code even to make minor adjustments to your site design.

This is why for WooCommerce, I highly recommend buying a theme.

Buying a theme can feel expensive at first, but if you think about the time you save it will be well worth it.

My #1 favourite WooCommerce theme is the Flatsome theme. Flatsome is a dynamic theme with a plethora of customisation options you can access inside the WordPress customiser without touching a line of code.

With Flatsome, you'll find it really simple to create an amazing looking e-com store within hours!

Take a look at these amazing looking stores created using Flatsome:

Get more Flatsome theme showcases here.

If you like what you see, click on the button below to get your Flatsome theme:

Once you've bought the theme, just follow the instructions to install the theme into WordPress and you're done!

There are endless tweaks you can do to your site using Flatsome to make it look exactly like how you imagined it. 

Step 5: Add products to your store

Once you have set up your store, you can start adding products to it.

To do this, all you have to do is go to your left sidebar, and hover over 'Products' and click on 'Add New' in the sub-menu:

Once inside, just fill in all the details about your product, upload your product photos and publish the product to have it live on your site.

You can repeat this process for as many products as you have.

Step 6: Setup your payment gateway (if not using WooCommerce default ones)

Finally, if you are not using WooCommerce's default payment gateways (Stripe and PayPal), you will need to purchase a payment gateway plugin, install it and configure it to your business.

For Singapore, there are ready-made plugins for payment gateways like eWay and 2Checkout.

These payment gateway plugins will set you back at US$79 (~S$108).

If you want to add a payment gateway which plugin is not yet available, you'll likely need to hire a developer to custom code the plugin for you (which I highly do not recommend).

As much as possible, I would recommend using ready-made plugins so you don't have to spend a lot of money building the payment gateway plugin from scratch.

Bonus step: Bring Visitors Your Store (E-commerce Marketing)

Once you've set up your store, the last thing you want to happen to have built a beautiful, fully-functioning e-com store, only to have no one come visit and buy from it.

Learn how to draw visitors to your site using online marketing techniques like SEO, Facebook marketing or Instagram marketing.

Here are some guides you can use to get started:

E-commerce SEO (Advanced Guide + Step-By-Step Case Study)

7 Must-Use Facebook Ads Strategies for Ecommerce Marketers

How to Create Instagram Ads That Work for Ecommerce - Later Blog

Verdict: WooCommerce a Flexible Free Solution for People with Some Website Building Skills

WooCommerce is a nice free CMS solution for people who have had some experience building sites with WordPress and is comfortable working in the WordPress environment.

It's flexible enough to accommodate any kind of online business model (physical products, digital products or drop shipping).

To expand your e-com store with more advanced features and a premium look, however, you'll need to spend some money buying premium plugins and themes.

It will be worth it in the long-term, however, if you are able to bring in visitors to your site who eventually convert to become long-term customers who keep buying and buying from your e-commerce store.

Have questions about setting up your e-com store with WooCommerce? Drop your questions in the comments below:

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