To call WordPress popular would be an understatement. It powers over 43% of websites and is used by over 60% of websites with known Content Management Systems (CMSs). It's not hard to see why: WordPress is powerful, flexible and easy to learn. Yet, it's also fairly difficult to master and can be intimidating for business owners looking to set up an online store.
WordPress pros - and CMS power users in general - often take for granted their ability to navigate the platform's complexities. For a small business owner with little web design experience and limited time, the basic steps to get a WordPress ecommerce store up and running (and then actually running it) can present a serious barrier to success.
From the initial store setup and managing inventory and shipping, to selecting the right plugins, to setting up payment options, the "simple" steps that feel like second nature to pros aren't so simple for first-time WordPress users - or, indeed, any business owner who lacks the time to really dig in and teach themselves what to do. While there are ample resources available for this popular platform, small-business owners aren't necessarily going to seek those out; and they might not even know where to look. What's more, online solutions providers pile on the complexities in myriad ways.
The 'More Features' Problem
Everyone loves a nice features-and-benefits sheet. From product managers to marketers, most online solutions pros want their ecommerce to check off the most boxes possible and list the most robust set of features. In the endless battle of comparison between providers, it's all too easy to find yourself layering on features without considering whether they address your customers' "must-haves" or just your organization's "want-to-haves."
Self-examination is not useful in the web presence business unless we do it from the customer's perspective. We can offer more, more, more, but what if the customer just wants what's right for them and not a benefits list a mile long?
Consider the onboarding process. Online services providers are so excited to share everything they have to offer with their customers that they often frontload the user experience with a deluge of information. What should be a pleasant, inviting experience becomes the equivalent of asking someone at a party what they do for a living and hearing all about their childhood, their medical history and their darkest secret.
Sometimes, it's just too much information. WordPress is so flexible and has such depth of potential that it can be easy to focus on the wrong things, both as a user and as a company designing a WordPress ecommerce experience. Creating an online selling experience on WordPress that really works for the user requires the right perspective.
When we had set out to create the new Bluehost ecommerce experience, we wanted to take all of our substantial capabilities and deliver them to the customer in a package that offered them real value and simplified their WordPress experience. We wanted them to be able to make the most of the versality and power of WooCommerce and its numerous extensions and to fully leverage our YITH WooCommerce plugins.
We knew we had to start at the same place the customer begins their ecommerce journey: the onboarding process. We dedicated ourselves to designing a guided onboarding experience that puts the user first, helping them get up and running and guiding them through the essentials of their online store functionality - like managing and shipping inventory, processing payments and handling taxes - without overwhelming them. We felt this was a critical, foundational part of the experience, and we spent a lot of time fine-tuning it.
After the streamlined, guided onboarding, we wanted customers to be able to take advantage of the heart of our ecommerce experience: our enhanced, pre-installed YITH plugins. This suite of hand-selected plugins includes features ranging from appointment bookings and gift cards to customer account creation and product searching and filtering.
We felt that by curating and pre-installing this selection of plugins, we could save our customers a lot of time on searching, set-up and updates and reduce their risks of combability and security issues. With a custom-built set of plugins already installed, they could jump right into selling their products and services.
We also decided it was important to give our customers the option to easily sell on major marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Etsy. One of the standout benefits of ecommerce is just how many sales opportunities it unlocks for small business owners. We decided to enable that freedom of choice and empower customers to manage their inventory across their preferred platforms from one convenient dashboard.
The Best of Both Worlds
WordPress offers a world of opportunities to online sellers. It also comes with a lot of complexities, and it can take a lot of time to get up and running with a WordPress ecommerce site. For small business owners with limited time, thin profit margins and an at-times complicated CMS in front of them, that world of opportunities can begin to look like an insurmountable challenge.
That's why we prioritized simplicity along with power and flexibility for our new Online Store offerings. We believe that our approach delivers the best of both worlds. Our guided onboarding eases users into selling on WordPress without overwhelming them, while our curated YITH plugins and eye-catching Wonder block theme allow them to create a standout online store that is as easy to build as it is to manage.
We created this new product for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that we believe in WordPress, and we know from our own experience just how remarkably useful this platform can be. Small-business owners, more than anyone, deserve to make full use of Wordpress's ecommerce capabilities without becoming mired in the complexities of setting up their store or spending hours browsing for the right combination of plugins.
Our hope is that our new online store experience will act as a springboard for small-business owners to jump into the wide world of WordPress, start selling and keep selling for years to come. Selling on WordPress really is easier than ever, and the Bluehost team is proud to help facilitate that experience and support our users every step of the way.
About the author: Jason Cross is Senior Vice President, Digital Presence and Commerce, at Newfold Digital. Formerly with Meta, Jason has a long history of assisting SMBs, and extensive knowledge in WordPress, online presence, commerce and advertising. Jason leads our Presence, ecommerce and WordPress businesses, building on his proven success designing business development, product and sales teams, SaaS solutions and marketing strategies to drive revenue growth and new product development within the SMB vertical.