WooCommerce Settings for Nonprofit e-Commerce Websites

We’re kicking off a Week of WooCommerce tutorials where we show you how to install and configure WooCommerce settings, the popular e-commerce plugin for your WordPress powered website.

WooCommerce Settings for WordPress Logo

We take particular focus on helping nonprofits take donations in a variety of ways, but we’re also careful to make sure the videos apply to anyone who wants to get e-commerce up and running on his or her site.

The videos in the series include:

  1. How to install and configure WooCommerce Settings for WordPress (this post)
  2. Creating Basic Products in WooCommerce
  3. Creating Variable Products and Multiple Option Donations in WooCommerce
  4. Creating Name Your Own Price Donation Options in WooCommerce
  5. Navigating the WooCommerce Checkout Process
  6. WooCommerce Order Review and Manual Edits
  7. WooCommerce Reporting Features
  8. How to Add Manual Orders to WooCommerce
  9. How to Process Refunds through WooCommerce

Altogether, we’re publishing more than 2 hours of tutorial content across multiple videos, showing you WooCommerce settings inside and out. From setup and installation to making your first sale or taking your first donation. Believe it or not, most of the functionality we’ll show is available using the base/stock version of WooCommerce, which means you get most of these goodies for free, as the plugin is offered for free through the WordPress Plugin repository.

However, there are a few premium extensions that require annual maintenance fees from WooCommerce and/or other third-party developers. In most cases, these fees are nominal, certainly a pittance in terms of being able to run a full-fledged store from your website.

 

Our Experience With E-Commerce

We recently wrote a post about our experience with e-commerce, particularly with nonprofit sites. In the past three years we’ve averaged more than 100 sites per year, a great majority of those sites containing e-commerce features.

The most recent article discusses how OrgSpring uses WooCommerce to help its nonprofit partners raise more than $500,000 completely online.

Income Reports - OrgSpring August 2014 - WooCommerce Settings and WooCommerce Donations

It’s a fun read and we discuss real statistics and use cases. That’s how we created the pretty sales charts you see above. (And yes, that chart reads more than $127,000 in event sales for a nonprofit. Amazing!)

We’re going to show you the WooCommerce settings to make your site an e-commerce powerhouse with the ability to sell anything, or to take donations, either one-time, or on a recurring basis.

 

Why We Use and Recommend WooCommerce

We’ve used WooCommerce to power mom-and-pop shops all the way up to 5,000+ member associations. WooCommerce just works, and it works well. There are few things it can’t do. Take our word for it – we maintain a list of more than 50 e-commerce vendors which we wrote about recently in an article titled Nonprofit Online Donation Vendor List.  In it, we discuss dozens of vendors that help your organization take online donations, and process credit and debit cards for your e-commerce stores. Out of all those options, we prefer WooCommerce.

What can it do, you ask?  Great question. In the past year, we’ve used WooCommerce to set up the following types of e-commerce sites:

  1. Membership sites, both one-time payments and recurring monthly and annual payments for members
  2. Association Sites, with regular member payments and protected content for members
  3. Learning Management Systems – Education posts and videos offered to one-off purchasers and members
  4. Government Agency Sites – Payment portals for services and fees owed to government agencies, quasi-government agencies, and nonprofit /agency service agencies serving the public and other nonprofits
  5. Crowdfunding Sites – walk-a-thon and other nonprofit team creation with donation capabilities, goal setting, and pledge funding
  6. Event Sites – e-commerce sites for selling tickets to events like concerts, fundraisers, walk-a-thons, and conferences
  7. Church Sites – for managing congregations, contributions, and other giving campaigns
  8. E-Stores – for selling physical and virtual products and services, and downloadable products like e-books
  9. Nonprofit Donation Portals – simple sites that allow for donations through PayPal, Credit Cards, and other payment types

 

Help us Share the Love

So, if you’ve ever wanted to create that online store, or get started with taking donations online, this is going to be the series for you. It’s offered through the OrgSpring education program at no cost to our readers. Enjoy!

We only ask that if you enjoy the content and it is meaningful to you that you take a moment to share this post or the associated YouTube videos throughout your social networks. The more eyeballs that visit these videos the more we can spread our mission of helping other nonprofits achieve technological freedom.

Of course, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments here or send us a note on YouTube. That goes for suggestions too!

 

Let’s Get Started with WooCommerce Settings

A quick note of housekeeping. WooCommerce requires WordPress. You must have a self-hosted WordPress website installed. If you’re not sure how to do that, contact us and we’ll help you get started.

These videos pick up with a clean installation of WordPress, and they assume you know how to install a plugin. You can install most plugins with just a few clicks of the mouse, but if you’ve never done it, you might want to read up a bit on that first.

Once you’re set with the prerequisites, we’ll get started with the installation and configuration of WooCommerce. This video is nearly 45 minutes long, and, when finished, you’ll have a fully functioning e-commerce setup on your WordPress powered website, ready for the addition or products, services, or to take donations!

Remember, the videos are shot in HD 1080. So you can view the video large screen and get all the great detail and clarity you need.

 

 

Text Instructions for WooCommerce Settings

The following text instructions follow along with the specific settings shown in the video. Each section corresponds to a section of settings panels in WooCommerce. There are actually 2 WooCommerce admin areas – one for general settings and reports and another for products. In this tutorial we’ll be covering the general settings. We’ll cover adding products in a future tutorial. We use high-resolution imagery so each image here is much larger than can show up in our website here, so you can feel free to click the image to load it in a separate window or tab. You can also feel free to download it and study it further.

Please note, the images listed below follow along directly with the video and show you the exact settings we use to make our store and e-commerce settings match what you see in the video exactly. This should help you follow along.

WooCommerce Settings – Finding the Settings Menu

To find the general WooCommerce settings, you’ll hover your mouse over the WooCommerce link in your admin area and then select the sub menu drop down named SETTINGS.

Click image to view full size

Click image to view full size

 

WooCommerce Settings – General Settings

The first screen you’ll see is the general settings screen. It will look similar to the image below. Again, these are our final settings. These reflect the changes we make in the video, so if you’re just reading the text and looking at the images here without viewing the video, please note we do make changes from standard Woo settings to arrive at the settings you’ll see in these images. If you don’t understand or can’t follow along, please take a few moments and view the companion video.

Click image to view full size

Click image to view full size

In the general settings, you’ll configure your store location, select where your customers can be located to shop at your store, and choose your basic metrics for shipping. You’ll also have the ability to set your monetary methods, and the main colors used in your store. This will affect things like button colors and email receipts. More on that in a moment.

WooCommerce Settings – Product Settings

WooCommerce Settings - 003 - Product Settings

Click image to enlarge

The next settings tab is the product settings, which sets the information for your base products.

 

Here, you’ll have the option to choose the pages for your shop and default category display. When you installed Woo, you had the option to install these pages and we always recommend using the default setup here. This includes how your shop page will display its products, in what order they will sort, and the behavior of add to cart buttons – specifically whether they take the customer directly to the cart after clicking, or whether they just add the product to a cart and then allow the customer to continue browsing the store and its products.

Here, you’ll also have the ability to let customers review products on your store. This can be meaningful to search engines if you are a retail store, but probably not so much needed if you’re just handling donations.

Finally, you can set product image sizes. You have three choices:

  1. Catalog Images – these show up in the store and are the main way people will view your items
  2. Single Product Images – these show up on individual item or donation pages – usually the largest image
  3. Product Thumbnails – these are smaller images used in sidebars and in the cart or checkout phases

One item of note here, Woo suggests sample image sizes for you to start with. We ALWAYS change these sizes because of image resolution aspect ratio issues you might run into. When resizing images, WordPress actually creates a separate image for different sizes. So if you were to stick with Woo’s default thumbnail size of 90px, you’ll have a relatively small image. Well, what happens later if you decide you want your thumbnails to be 200px in side and decide to change the CSS or design of your site to reflect the larger size. It will take your old 90px image and try to increase its size by scaling it. An image that small, when scaled, will distort heavily and look horrible. This also happens across any WooCommerce image if you upload an image lower than the highest resolution setting of the Woo image settings.

That’s why we recommend setting each of these images to 500px x 500px. That is big enough for most sites, but not too big as to require a huge file size. It also helps to prevent any scaling issues you might run into. Remember, better resolution images will help sell your product – if it is just a donation!

Product Inventory

If you plan to manage stock of your store items, you’ll be setting product inventory and this is done on the product settings screen by selecting the second link at the top, just under the Products tab itself. The link is simply titled INVENTORY.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

 

These settings determine how your inventory is managed and the number of remaining stock that might trigger a notice to the store manager so that you can have sufficient time to replenish. It also allows the store manager to control how items that might be low in stock are handled on the front end of the store. For example, you can choose to stop selling out of stock items, or you can still sell them as backorders.

 

WooCommerce Settings – Tax Settings

 

The next tab area of settings is the area that controls how tax is charged. In our example we don’t use tax settings, so these items are all left default. If you are doing online transactions online you’ll likely not need to use these. If you’re doing online donations only that might be the case too. However, do not take our word for this as each area of the country handles this differently. International orders are changing too, so please do consult a professional with experience in handling tax matters for online stores. That will help point you in the right direction with respect to taxation of items on your site.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

 

WooCommerce Settings – Checkout Settings

The checkout settings govern how a customer will checkout on your site including the process he or she will go through to pay, what payment methods you accept, and other options associated with checkout pages.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

If you are allowing the use of coupons you’ll make sure that box is checked to start this area. If you want to allow people to breeze through checkout without stopping to create an account on your site you can enable the guest checkout option. Otherwise, people will be required to input items like email and password, and an account will be created for them. The benefit of creating an account is that you’ll capture more customer data, give them the ability to save shipping information, and you’ll have the ability to market to them later. Woo makes this process easy, even if you do decide to require accounts. We always leave that box unchecked so as to require account creation.

If you are using a credit processor like Stripe or Simplify Commerce as your credit card payment gateway, you’ll need an SSL to encrypt customer data sent through your site and servers. That’s what the next check boxes are for – Force secure checkout. That will enable other check boxes for forcing HTTPS protocol and un-forcing it when leaving checkout pages. This means that when accessing your checkout your site address will change from http://yourdomain.com to https://yourdomain.com – the secure version. Again, a ssl is required here. If you do not have one, do not check these boxes. It will prevent your site checkout from working.

At the bottom of the page are the payment gateways. You can select which ones are active and this will determine how people can pay you on the site. WooCommerce offers dozens of gateways. For free, out of the box WooCommerce offers PayPal integration. We’ll use that in our example and the check method which is also popular for donations. Later in the series we’ll discuss using other more advanced gateways and taking credit cards directly on your site.

You can check the boxes for default method offered, drag and drop to sort and arrange them, and click the individual settings buttons to the right to edit each method.

Click image to enlarge

Check Payment Method Settings – Click image to enlarge

 

PayPal Payment Method Settings - Click Image to enlarge

PayPal Payment Method Settings – Click Image to enlarge

 

 

WooCommerce Settings – Account Settings

This area controls the pages people can use to access your store and products on the site, and whether you require customers to register an account to checkout.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

 

WooCommerce Settings – Email Settings

The email settings control when emails get sent to you, the admin, and your customer when orders have been made on the site. There are several links to click-through that show you different types of email settings and we’ll explain them all below. Keep in mind, as you add extensions to woo and other plugins, this is an area that might be modified and open up new email choices. Here, you’ll have the ability to set the name and email of the store admin from which emails appear to be sent and to which replies will come to – if your customer ever replies to an email / transaction receipt. You’ll also set the text you want to appear in the footer of your emails. You can only enter in text here, no HTML – it will be stripped out. Finally, you can set the colors of your template and add a header/logo image.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Email Template View

Once you’ve changed your general settings and set your header image and colors you can click the preview link to view your template email.This will be a graphical view of what you can expect your email receipts to look like when delivered to your customers. Keep in mind, all email browsers and email programs handle things differently, so it might look different on different machines.

Your standard email template looks like this:

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

 

We’ve marked that up to show you the settings items from the main email settings to show you which one does what on these templates.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

 

New Order Emails

New order emails are sent to you, the admin, whenever there is a new order on the store. The customer does NOT see or get this email – just the admin of the site. This lets you know an order has been made, and it will give you details about the product and the customer and tell you the payment method used. As with most of the emails, it will be enabled by default. We recommend using the default settings, unless you’re only offering donations on your site. Then change the word “order” to “transaction” or “donation.” Those are general enough to cover most situations. Remember, if you add more mainstream products later, you’ll need to change the wording to be generic again. You can’t offer products and send receipts that say “thanks for your donation.” That will confuse people an end up creating more management for you.

Be careful not to change the text inside the curly braces {} and shortcode brackets []. Those are codes used by WooCommerce to insert customer data and order data. If you do change words like “order” make sure you only change those words outside of the curly braces.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

 

Processing Order Emails

These emails are sent to the customer when he or she makes an order that is still processing, but not yet completed. This would happen if the customer chooses a checkout method of payment that is not automatic – like check payment. That means he or she will send a check. The customer will get an email that the transaction is processing. When you receive the check and cash it, you complete the order. The customer then gets the order complete email.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

 

Completed Order Emails

When the order is complete, the customer gets an order complete email – which is akin to a receipt. It has all the pertinent info like date of order, order number, transaction ID, etc. If the customer used an automatic payment method like PayPal or a credit card, he or she will receive this email quickly – usually within a few seconds of completing the order.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Customer Invoice Emails

If the customer creates an account on your site he or she will have the ability to look at all his or her orders and to print invoices from previous transactions through the account page. By default this is located at /my-account. The customer can print an invoice and email will be sent with details. The settings below control the email and whether or not the customer can even print an invoice from the account page. There are extensions to make this part of the process better and more graphical, but even out of the box Woo handles this well.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Customer Note Emails

During the checkout process, Woo gives your customer the ability to add special notes to the seller. This is called the customer note and upon adding one, the store admin will be notified with an email. This lets the admin know if there are any special order notes the admin might want to know about to assist in fulfilling the order.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Reset Password Emails

Again, if the customer creates an account on your system he or she can manage that account and the profile information contained within it. This includes resetting a password directly by the customer. This leaves customer account management out of your hands. Nice!

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

New Account Emails

If you choose to allow customer accounts, you can also choose to send an email to the customer showing him or her the username and password selected at account creation. This can be a helpful way to keep the customer engaged on your site.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

 

 

Summary

That, and 45 minutes of video tutorial, covers all the basic setup of WooCommerce for WordPress. Join us tomorrow for the next video in the series, where we show you how to start creating products for your store.

If you’d like to get notified when we post the next article, you can opt-into the OrgSpring Nonprofit Tech Tips and Tutorials newsletter, which you’ll find in the sidebar of this page.

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Craig Grella

Founder and Executive Director at OrgSpring
Craig is the founder and executive director or OrgSpring, a nonprofit dedicated to helping other nonprofits achieve their missions online. Through tips and tutorials, Craig's goal is show nonprofits how to use technology to become more efficient, grow their list of supporters, and increase online donations.