Easy to use, open-source software like WordPress has brought the selling of products and services online to the masses. One of the great aspects of the democratization of eCommerce is that you no longer have to be a big business with a big budget to sell online. Smaller shops and even single entrepreneurs can create a beautiful, functional shopping experience.
What’s more, smaller stores aren’t relegated to using ugly designs and outdated technology. Shopping cart plugins like WooCommerce provide great functionality out of the box with tons of extensions available to help you do even more. And there are a plethora of terrific themes that can take advantage of it – while offering a fully-modern aesthetic.
Let’s take a look at some of the latest WooCommerce compatible offerings in both form and function with an eye towards smaller stores. You may be surprised at just how many options you have.
Minimal & Streamlined
These two words go together quite well, don’t they? For a long time, they were very rare in the world of eCommerce. There was so much clutter – information seemed to fill every pixel of the screen. That led to sites looking much more complicated than need be. It might well result in customers going elsewhere to make a purchase.
There are now plenty of themes to choose from that provide a much simpler, more elegant method of shopping online. Many offer some unique touches to make your store stand out.
Savoy is a theme that combines a minimal design with a lot of clever AJAX functionality baked in. Its minimal appearance makes it easy to move around the site.
As for those unique touches, the theme has a great way of showing that you’ve added something to your cart. Rather than redirecting you to a page or displaying a small notification (as WooCommerce does by default), you’ll see the cart contents slide out from the right side of the screen (see above). The theme also features an AJAX powered search, various layouts and a product “quick view” – all essential features for a modern eCommerce store.
Meanwhile, Basel is a WooCommerce theme that shows off an elegant style with some interesting features that are sure to be appreciated by your customers.
Notice that the header of the image above has just about everything you could need. Among them are navigation, a place to login or register, search capability, a wish list tally and an automatically updated shopping cart. Basel also includes eleven layouts for various types of shops, header variations and AJAX filtering.
Speaking of great utility mixed with a very clean layout, Gon is a WooCommerce compatible theme that provides both.
One of Gon’s useful features is the ability to search by shop category in the header. Stores with a lot of categories will benefit greatly from it. There are eleven+ homepage layouts, optional megamenus, and the theme supports both WPML and RTL languages.
Rounding out the list is Luxury – a theme that can handle WooCommerce with ease but can also be used for many other types of sites.
There are several different shop-related layouts to choose from. They all feature a very clean, minimal look that keeps all of the attention on your products. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find lots of header variations.
The chances are that either you or someone you know makes their own craft products. It could be knit scarves, homemade soaps or woodcrafts. More and more, craftspeople are selling their items online. It’s a fast-growing niche for eCommerce websites.
WordPress Themes, of course, have begun to catch up to the trend. There are now themes available which cater to those who sell their own crafts. However, that doesn’t mean shop owners need to compromise great looks or functionality.
Handmade is a very attractive WooCommerce enabled theme that would be ideal for selling upscale crafts.
The above screenshot shows one of the many homepage layouts available and the Shop menu item activated. The megamenu allows for a background image – notice how much it adds to the appearance of the menu. Based on Bootstrap, Handmade comes with multiple headers and footers, is Visual Composer compatible and includes tons of font and icon choices.
It should be noted that crafts aren’t just things to wear or display with your décor. They can also be fine food and drink. That’s where Villenoir comes in.
This theme could be an excellent choice for those who create their own alcoholic beverages. With the volume of craft wine and beer communities growing daily – there is a lot of need. Villenoir provides plenty of shop-oriented WordPress widgets, lovely product templates, slick integration with The Events Calendar to showcase upcoming tastings and the ability to turn the site into an online catalog (with eCommerce disabled).
Creative artists also have some wonderful options, such as Artday.
The theme’s minimal layout keeps your art as the main focal point. It features beautiful page headers, a product category navigation system that works much like a filterable portfolio and a variety of layouts and menu types.
Le Crafts, meanwhile, is a theme that can really let your creativity shine through.
The theme really knows how to showcase photography beautifully, while product listings are bold and quite colorful. Included are seven homepage layouts, 18 custom widgets, support for a multi-vendor cart (through a 3rd party extension) and megamenus.
Bringing Some Bling to Mom & Pop Shops
A robust online shop isn’t just for online-only businesses. Small brick-and-mortar businesses should have an online presence as well. The website can be not only a great companion for drawing customers to the physical location, but online sales and services can breathe new life into your business.
With that in mind, here are some themes that will help promote businesses both physical and virtual.
Salons can benefit greatly from having an online shop. Trimmer provides all you need to promote your business. It not only handles online sales but also features an online appointment scheduling system.
Besides the convenience of scheduling appointments online, the WooCommerce component can be used to sell products or even allow customers to prepay for service. The theme also features the ability to use parallax backgrounds, lots of custom templates and a custom page builder.
Bookie provides the neighborhood book store with a clean and crisp means for making online sales.
Created with booksellers in mind, the theme features custom metadata for author biographies and book information (number of pages, ISBN, publisher and release date – among others). It is Visual Composer compatible, includes three homepage layouts and is language translation ready.
Tailored for use by small print shops, Print Card could be used to let customers purchase products and upload their custom artwork (through a separate plugin):
Print Card allows for unlimited custom color combinations, AJAX powered search, a customizable product page, includes an integrated wish list and product comparison plugin.
Baby & Kids Store
As any parent will tell you, children’s consignment shops are a great way to save money on clothing and toys. The Baby & Kids Store theme is built with products for little ones in mind.
There are seven different homepage templates to choose from, various shop page layouts (with and without sidebars) and support for Visual Composer.
Bonus Tips for Small Shops
Having a great-looking theme will get your eCommerce venture off to a great start. But there are other things you should be aware of in order to find success. Here are some tips and ideas to make your shop the best it can be.
Figuring out the various shipping costs and methods can be very frustrating for store owners. You want to ensure that you don’t overcharge customers (and potentially lose sales). On the other hand, charging too little or picking the wrong methods can end up losing you money. It’s a fine line and one that’s not always intuitive.
There are some excellent shipping extensions out there for WooCommerce to help take the pain out of this process. With the variety of carrier integrations and pricing methods, you’re sure to find one that fits in with your particular business.
As shipping is very much dependent on your location, make sure that any shipping method you use complies with your local laws and standards.
Another challenge for business owners is keeping track of inventory. By default, WooCommerce can keep track of product inventory. But if you have a lot of products in your store, keeping up with it all (not to mention making changes) can be difficult.
That’s where a plugin like Woo Stock Manager & Report can help. It allows you to bulk-manage inventory and has some powerful filtering built in to allow you to group products together in various ways.
And if you have inventory for both a physical and virtual retail space, combining them in real time isn’t covered by default. WooCommerce Mobile Inventory Management has a unique system that uses QR codes, which can help get everything synched up and working together.
Keeping customers informed of what’s in stock is also important. WooCommerce Availability Notifications allows you to customize messages displayed on your site based on the stock level of a product. Woo Stock Alert, meanwhile, sends out custom email notifications to customers regarding product availability.
Staying in touch with your customers with regards to your products and policies can help to build loyalty. After all, the more information you provide, the stronger your relationship will be.
You don’t have to provide large, unruly amounts of information. But little pieces here and there can make a difference.
For example, wouldn’t it be great for customers to know an expected delivery date? WooComerce Estimated Shipping Date will allow you to estimate delivery dates and display them on your site.
As for keeping in touch, there are a few ways to make things easier. WooCommerce SMS can help you reach customers via text messages when their order status changes. You can also help keep customers informed via email by letting them sign up for your MailChimp newsletter list during checkout. And, you may want to reward loyal customers on their birthday with a discount via WooCommerce Birthday Reminder.
After an order, it is a great idea to provide tracking information. the Shipping Details Plugin for WooCommerce works with a variety of shippers and lets you easily email customers with the details.
Make your website your own
A small business can do amazing things when it comes to online sales. As we’ve seen, there are no shortage of plugins and themes to help you make the most out of your eCommerce site. Once you have the right tools, it’s up to you to make your website uniquely your own.
While it’s easy enough to just configure a few options and make your site look good, it’s still important to ensure that your brand is effectively reflected. This goes beyond just logos and graphics, however. It’s about content and messaging. It shows up in the way you handle customer inquiries and even how you box up your shipments. Remember – every step counts.
This is where I’d like to think that smaller shops have an advantage. Just like the experience of visiting a ‘Mom & Pop’ store is vastly different from a big box retailer, the same can be said online as well. While your site can have many of the same bells and whistles of the big retailers, you can present a different message and customer experience.
It may be worthwhile to think about the little touches you can add that will bring more convenience to your customers. Many of the plugins noted above can help with this. As a small business who uses WordPress, you have the flexibility to add features and functionality more quickly and cheaply than a lot of the larger ones that run proprietary systems.
Most of all – enjoy running your shop! It can be a truly wonderful experience and rewarding in more ways than one.
Featured Image Source: Commerce Marketing Promotion Concept by Rawpixel.