WooCommerce And Its Effective Usage For Selling Services
The e-commerce around the globe witnessed a remarkable growth ever since WordPress, the most user-friendly CMS (Content Management System), started providing tools for users to sell stuff online. Every entrepreneur, artist, and small scale business people grabbed this opportunity to sell the products they invented, imagined, created or recreated. The complicated infrastructure requirements that lead to the monopoly of big names like Amazon, eBay, etc. in the e-commerce world got minimized and with the help of a user friendly platform like WordPress, everyone was able to set up their own website and manage their orders without a humongous financial burden of setting up a “done-from-scratch” website.
The concept of e-commerce website has largely been applied only for the sale of materialistic products. Footwear, clothes, phones, laptops, electrical equipment, etc. are somehow the things that come into everyone’s mind whenever they talk about an e-commerce website. In this article, we will be discussing the possibility of selling a service to your customer using the e-commerce functionality available in the WordPress CMS setup.
So, How Do You Do That?
Let’s just make it clear at the beginning itself that this article is intended for those who have a very basic idea of what WordPress is and how it works. No! We don’t want you to be a developer who creates the codes or develops a plugin. We just want you to be familiar with the backend of WordPress.
Let’s begin by talking about how one can set up the e-commerce friendly WordPress backend. The easiest and the most common way through which one can configure a hassle-free e-commerce backend is with the help of this plugin named ‘WooCommerce’. Just go to the plugin section of WordPress in the backend and install this plugin.
Soon after you install the plugin, you will be able to see two new tabs in the backend of your website. One will be ‘WooCommerce’ and the next one will be ‘Products’.
In the WooCommerce section, you will find options such as Orders, Coupons, Reports, Settings, Status, and Extensions. Let’s look at each section in detail.
Order: This section will display all the orders you received from the customers through the website.
Coupons: Discount coupons are a major attraction these days in the online trading and this section is for you to create a coupon code. It will allow you to set a new coupon code and also to set its parameters like type of discount, expiration date, etc.
Reports: Reports tab helps you to analyze the progress of your business on a particular time period. It will give you a comprehensive idea about the earnings, increase or decrease in the customer sign ups and also an idea about the stock management.
Settings: This is perhaps the most important tab. It consists of 7 sections and all of them are vital from the seller’s point of view. Your address, currency, tax, shipping criterion, the general details about your products, what all features should be available for the customer, modes of receiving payment, etc. come under this tab.
Status: Status tab is basically a place to check about the compatibility of the website hosting you are using. It helps you in rectifying technical errors that might disturb the smooth functioning of the website.
Extensions: Extensions are basically additional e-commerce friendly features one can include in their website to make things easier for the customer. Extensions are mostly premium features and there are a few features that are available for free as well. However, there are some top-notch free Woocommerce extensions too, that are either totally free or have included many useful features in their free versions itself.
So the second section that you will see in the backend other than WooCommerce after the installation of the WooCommerce plugin is the Products section. Products section is the Posts equivalent of the e-commerce feature. It will come with sub-options like All Products, Add Product, Categories and Tags, something that is similar to the post taxonomy in the general structure of WordPress.
What we have been talking about up to this point was about how a product is set up using the WordPress e-commerce feature. The plugin WooCommerce will create the product custom post type for you.
The Product Custom post type will have a lot of features that are basically required for the normal functioning for selling any kind of product.
There will be a section to put the title of the product and the short description you wish to include. On the side of that, you can see options to create categories and include the respective products in those categories.
Below that, there will be an area that is solely dedicated to the e-commerce attributes of the product. Usually, the products are set as simple products which are real products you choose looking at the photos that are provided on the website. The additional option of choosing whether your simple product is virtual or downloadable is also there.
The other options here include Grouped Product, External Affiliate Product and Variable Product. Grouped Product will have one or more separate product that people may like to have along with the chosen product; someone who purchases a mobile phone might also be interested in a back-cover for that same phone. External affiliate product can be listed as a product on your website with all the technical details regarding the particular product. But the customizable buy button of the particular product will take the user to the actual website. A variable product is something that may look like a simple product but is available for user-defined alterations. For eg. a T-shirt. It will be listed as one simple product on the website, but there will be things like size and color which can be varied according to the user demand.
So how can you use it for Services?
Whatever we have spoken about until this point is common for anyone who sells physical or virtual products. Understanding these basic structures of WooCommerce is helpful for maintaining a website that uses e-commerce features.
Before going to show the WooCommerce product add-ons that will help you in listing the service on your website, let’s take a moment to understand why making your service a product and listing it on a website is a good idea. Whenever you try to pitch this idea of making your service a product, there will be cynical views from people who will feel that the old school way of going through the delays of payment and negotiations is totally fine. We all have bills to pay and the services we provide to people using our gifted talents should not be taken lightly. The major advantage of making your service a product on a website is that you will get the payment upfront. Thinking from your end, all the hassles of requesting the money from the client, having to remind them frequently, etc. are unnecessary headaches and with upfront payment happening, the payment becomes a guaranteed thing. And WooCommerce also helps you to list out the specifics of your provided service to give your clients a clear picture about what all will be provided for the particular service and that will also reduce the possible miscommunication about what was promised and what got delivered.
Whether the service you are providing is eligible to be presented as a WooCommerce product will be one question that will be inside everyone’s mind when they think about this option. Pretty much every service that has a clear boundary can be included under WooCommerce. A firm that provides Printing Services can take upfront payment by asking the number of copies the customer wants. An advertising agency can give multiple budget range options to their clients by showing what all features will be there in each budget option. People who sell their oratory skills by taking training sessions/ coaching sessions and also those who are selling courses can add flexible options such as payment according to the number of hours or the number of courses the customer needs. Copywriters and Content Writers can show various options to their clients based on the number of words the client wishes to have in an article.
You need to add Custom Product Fields in WooCommerce Product page to make it fit to sell services.
In order to have a flexible and user-friendly front end for selling services as products, the basic features that WooCommerce facilitate are not enough. The service provider might need WooCommerce extra product options according to their kind of business which won’t be necessary for a typical e-commerce website that sells physical products.
Suppose you are running a firm that provides a digital photography/ videography service in covering various events. It may vary from covering a birthday party to covering a mega event. Usually, such services will have multiple options for the client to choose according to their budget and requirement. The client can choose the number of still photography cameras and video cameras they need for the event according to their budget. The basic WooCommerce structure doesn’t allow such kind of choices to be included in the website. And for that purpose, we have WooCommerce product options plugins that will help us in creating WooCommerce custom fields in the backend of each product. It will make things easier for the website administrator to include such additional fields without any complications or need to know the basics of programming and coding.
Plugins that could customize the product page of Woocommerce
These plugins are called by different names viz. WooCommerce Product Add-ons, WooCommerce Extra Product Options or Woocommerce Personalized products, but they all basically do the same thing.
As mentioned there are a few good plugins that helps in customizing the product page of Woocommerce and WooCommerce Product Addons is one that stands out in particular amongst all – not only in terms of functionality and UX but also on the rating as well. This premium plugin that allows you to make the best use of WooCommerce by offering flexible WooCommerce product options that will help you set up the various unique choices your clients can choose. Let’s look at the functionality of WooCommerce Product Add-ons plugin.
Once you have finished installing the plugin, you will be able to find it in the backend under the Products section. There you can add new product form according to your needs.
The ease with which one can create WooCommerce custom fields is what makes WooCommerce Custom Product Addons a good and convenient choice for this purpose. You can give a name to the desired form and then you can add the choices using multiple types of options available. If you have any queries to the client or if you want the client to send any additional custom information, you can add a text form. You can give them choices using Radio Button, Drop Down Button, etc. The free version of this plugin, WooCommerce Personalized Product Addons too have a vast number of such options, including options to feature a product count, multiple images for a product, Date field, Google place selector, File Upload, Color Picker, etc.
Let’s go with the example of the photography firm that covers events. We can give the customer multiple options based on the number of cameras they require to cover the event. So in order to have that option at the front end, we will have to create a new product form using WooCommerce Product Add-ons plugin.
Let’s create a form named Photography client. After giving the form a name we move on to the additional fields we wish to include in the front end view. First, let’s just add a date picker for the client to choose the date of the event. And after that, we will drag and drop the “select” option to include the multiple options we wish to show the client about the various choices from which they can pick.
You can manually edit the options in the select section and can also add additional amounts to each of those options depending on the features you are providing to the client.
How to add this to the product?
Now that we have completed creating our WooCommerce custom fields to the e-commerce segment, it’s time to check how it is included in the front end. We will go to the product section and will add a new product. We will give it a title; Photography. Will Give it a short description and after that, we will add an image that will represent the service we will be providing.
After that, we will go to the Product Data Section. We will choose the Simple Product category for our service and since it is not a physical product, we will tick the virtual box. In the general section, we will add the base price. Other fields are mostly nonconsequential as the product here is a service.
In the last segment, we will see the custom product options created by the plugin WooCommerce Custom Product Add-ons. In that, we will choose the Photography Client form which we previously created. By selecting that, the particular form gets attached to the service we offer and will be available in the front end for the user to choose.
Once the product is published, it will have the title we used, the photo we placed and the different options and variable prices for those options getting displayed at the front end for the viewers. The customers can select any of that according to their needs and the checkout will be completed using any of the payment gateways you have configured in the backend.
The only thing that restricts users from charting their services on an e-commerce platform is the complication in adding custom fields to the product backend. With a plugin like WooCommerce Product Addons which makes the addition of WooCommerce custom fields very user-friendly, jumping that hurdle has also become an easy one. Photography was just an example. Motivational speakers can create a similar service product and charge according to the hours. To get upfront payments and also to have proper reports about the money you receive, selling your service as a product is a really smart new age idea. If you’re selling physical products, you can easily have a lot of options like going for a hosted e-commerce solution like Shopify which can be easily implemented in a small monthly fee or even to become a vendor at market places like Amazon and start selling – where you can ensure some decent traffic too. In the Shopify vs Amazon comparison, even though there are some clear advantages (in spite of the cons) for these in terms of physical products. However, if you’re planning to sell a service any of self-hosted open source e-commerce solutions would be an ideal choice and, among those, Woocommerce would be the best – with the customization options that it offers along with the easiness in implementing those.