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Creating Unique Store Types Using WooCommerce Extensions – Part 1

Posted on March 28 by in Resources | 45 comments

Creating Unique Store Types Using WooCommerce Extensions – Part 1

With the advent of the Divi theme by Elegant Themes, you can now do almost anything you want to your site’s design without coding. Since it integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce, we thought we’d write about how far you can take WooCommerce without coding too! There are many different unique store types you can set up with WooCommerce extensions. Here are just some of them to spark your imagination:

Personalized customer stores with Restricted Category Access:

make personalized stores with restricted access to shop categories

Image by Anna-Mari West / shutterstock.com

IgniteWoo is ramping up their development of extensions for WooCommerce. Their plugins allow us to create highly functional e-commerce stores without the need for much, if any, coding work. One of those is the Restricted Category Access extension. It allows you to restrict access to a category of products based on users, or user roles. Combine it with a user role creator plugin, and you can get even more unique. Here are ideas of store types that can use this plugin:

Custom Jewelry: If you sell hand made jewelry and are making a set for a bridal party for example, you can create a category for each bridal party, allowing them to only put through a transaction for the jewelry that was made for them.

Photography prints: Keeping with the bridal theme, sometimes photographers like to sell prints or files from a wedding photography shoot to all the guests or family and friends that couldn’t make it. With the Restricted Category Access extension, you can maintain client privacy by only allowing a set of shoppers to access a particular category of photos (which would be set up as products). Using variations, you can sell different sized prints, files, mugs, t-shirts and whatever other paraphernalia grandmas would want to decorate their houses with!

Conference and custom logo gear: Imagine being able to let conference attendees of just one event put in orders for their own t-shirts, so you get the sizes right and reduce costs, while limiting the buyers who can use a logo or design.

Exclusivity agreements: You can be an exclusive distributor or manufacturer of a product to individual retail stores, so they can market that the product can ‘only’ be bought at their store. As the manufacturer for these retailers, you can restrict who can buy from what category, while reducing your administrative time and costs to take these exclusive orders manually.

The possibilities with this extension can go further – let your imagination for solutions go wild!

Wholesale stores with Wholesale Pricing extension

wholesale pricing is possible with woocommerce

Image by Monkey Business Images / shutterstock.com

Some of our ideas above would also work well with wholesale capabilities. If you are a manufacturer or distributor and want to be able to sell in larger quantities at reduced rates for your retailers, then this extension (and its counterparts, mentioned below) are a dream come true.

The Wholesale Pricing plugin, also by Ignite Woo, allows you to enter an additional price field in your products’ settings: the wholesale price. This is the price that will appear only to wholesale shoppers who are logged in and have that user role applied to their account. You can selectively choose which users can become wholesale shoppers.

If you use a membership plugin, you can also turn the wholesale buying process into a process that requires pre-approval, to make sure only legitimate retailers are shopping at wholesale rates, while ‘regular’ customers are shopping at retail market rates. When you review and approve an application form for membership, you can also select to have the applicant become a wholesale customer, which will allow them to shop at the exclusive price points.

Important to note are the other extensions that can take the wholesale or bulk selling concept even further with WooCommerce:

Wholesale Pricing Plus

Wholesale Minimum Cart Total and Quantity

Restrict Quantity

WooCommerce Wholesale Pricing Coupons

Tiered Pricing

Volume Discount Coupons

E-Commerce Bundle Rate Shipping

Note: one downfall with the IgniteWoo Wholesale Pricing plugin is that if you are in a country where legal tax rules are different for wholesale orders (as they are in Canada), and you are using your store for both retail and wholesale purchases, you would have to do some custom coding to get wholesale users to have only their applicable taxes show up on checkout, or otherwise build your taxes into the wholesale prices you set up.

Distributor e-commerce stores with brand filtering, subscriptions and affiliate extensions

allow users to shop by brand if you are a distributor to retailers

Image by Tyler Olson / shutterstock.com

When you sell wholesale to retailers, you sometimes have better success by going with a distributor, who already has a network of retailers they deliver to. By accessing their large existing network of buyers who are ordering in wholesale quantities, you can eliminate a lot of the work it would take for you to build up your own list of buyers. Retailers are more likely to shop from a one-stop-shop than hold accounts with several different manufacturers.

So if you are a distributor, then the wholesale extension mentioned above, along with the Product Brands plugin can allow you to cater to your customers, allowing them to shop online instead of by phone or catalogue.

This is a simple solution that allows shoppers to filter their product searches by brand. It can be used in many contexts, not only for distributor sites. However, the idea that distributor orders need ‘feet on the street’ sales people doesn’t have to be a rule anymore. Online marketing can reduce sales costs and help make your manufacturers successful, which in turn makes you successful.

The ordering process can be much more streamlined and your network of suppliers without their own online payment options can lead their customer inquiries to URLs on your site where their brands appear, encouraging even more sales. To credit them for the referrals, you can set up an affiliate program as well. Two options are the WP Affiliate Plugin (which works with WooCommerce – I’ve tried it!) and Affiliates Pro for WooCommerce.

Using a subscription plugin, you can also get retailers on a monthly supply of regular stock. I have used this on a product-based store and it works great! It also can integrate with affiliate commissions. IgniteWoo’s Subscription Sync plugin can then get all your subscribing monthly orders on the same payment cycles.

Plus, if you still want to allow a net-30-day payment policy (often the case in the wholesale industry), you can still do that with the Wholesale Pricing plugin.

Drop shippers, this plugin is also great for you too!

Marketplace-style multiple seller store with Vendor Stores extension

create a marketplace store with vendors plugin by ignitewoo

Image by leungchopan / shutterstock.com

The marketplace online shopping experience is quite the craze for both e-commerce entrepreneurs and product developers. Sellers who don’t have the investment capital to build and market their own online stores can go to marketplaces where there is already an audience eager to buy the latest and greatest of anything. Product inventors or manufacturers can list their products on sites that take care of the selling work for them, while shoppers can hit one spot to find a variety of options, making the online shopping experience kind of like the real-life department store experience. Except online marketplaces can be more ‘grassroots,’ selling from independent makers at an effective cost.

But you don’t have to aim to be Amazon.com or Etsy to make an online store like this. Marketplaces like AbesMarket.com serve little niches of buyers who are interested in a particular industry or type of product. Now with the Vendor Stores extension for WooCommerce you can do the same, and take a commission on the sales that your sellers make on your site.

Passive income? Sort of. Remember, for you to be successful, your sellers have to be successful, so the job of marketing and traffic building is up to you – and those are big shoes to fill!

Commission-based sales from your online store

earn affiliate commissions with product retailers extension for woocommerce

Image by Minerva Studio / shutterstock.com

The flip side of offering a marketplace for sellers to list their products on your own site is to link to external online stores that will offer you an affiliate commission for sales made from your site’s visitors. Sometimes you don’t want to carry your entire inventory in-house and would rather focus on making the sale through affiliate marketing, letting another business handle the shipping and administrative parts.

But you still want to show your affiliate products in a catalog-style site and sell on your store sometimes. Other times you need to sell your e-book or app on different platforms and want to make it easy for buyers to purchase from an app store of their choice (also a credibility booster).

With the Product Retailers extension you can do all this. It’s available straight from the WooThemes.com site, which means you get great support with it as well.

It doesn’t stop here!

Yes, we’ve got more up our sleeve! Stay tuned for more unique store types you can make with WooCommerce, right here on the Elegant Themes blog!

Article thumbnail image by woaiss / shutterstock.com

45 Comments

  1. So is the Product Retailers extension in essence a way to create a simplified drop ship type of site?

      • Oh wait no…that’s not right, drop shipping is when you take care of the sale on your site and send the order to another manufacturer to send it out. So it’s more like having an affiliate and drop shipping arrangement all in one e-commerce store.

        • Oh. nice! I think I may have to research this a little more and see if it is something I could use for a project I’m thinking about starting…

  2. I have loved using Elegant Themes + Woo! Thanks for making a theme that makes it easy to sell what I love and share my heart.

  3. These are all great ideas. It amazes me how endless the possibilities are with woocommerce and elegant themes and I am very excited to see what the future holds with both of them. It is great to know that I have solutions for almost every client need imaginable within these two products.

    • Hi Adam! Yes, the amazement has not yet ceased with me either! I remember a few years ago it was hard to do any kind of advanced e-commerce with WordPress. Even setting up a wishlist or gift registry was hard and required a third-party service of some sort. But with the advent of WooCommerce extensions, it’s almost like WooCommerce is now more powerful than many of the traditionally mainstream e-commerce systems out there, without the compromise on the e-marketing side, which I always felt WordPress was better at.

      • Thanks for this info Joyce, I’ve been looking for way to extend WooCommerce plugin. Can you use WooCommerce (probably with Divi) to create a gift registry site where users can pick a gift for intending couples on their wedding day?

        • Yes you can, you just need to find the extension for it, for which I believe there is one on the WooThemes site or do a simple Google search :)

          I will probably cover this in part 2 of this article :) No promises though (I’ll give priority to the most unique ones)

          • Thanks, strap for the part 2 of woocommerce gig, can’t wait. Cheers!

  4. Great Information Joyce …

    Makes me want to find an item to sell!

    Merci,

    John Malloy

    • I know, me too :) Wait till you see part 2 of this article :)

  5. Thank you for your inspiration. My RustyRotten Store will created with Divi and WooCommerce. Creative ideas are welcome.

  6. I’m just setting up Divi + Woo to sell digital images (my son’s a great outdoor/nature photographer). I’d love to hear more about digital sales/downloads in your next post!.

    Thanks!
    Melinda

    • Hi Melinda! Thanks for your suggestion. I was planning on steering clear of digital downloads mainly because they are not that unique :) WooCommerce can do this out of the box. I think that what you may want to look at though are subscriptions, learning management system plugins, or membership plugins that can help with a digital product.

  7. I sell a services. Anything geared toward a service based site?

    • Hi Rebecca! I was planning on talking about this on part 2 of this article – I totally see this as being an under-utilized possibility with WooCommerce :) The problem with services is that it’s hard to get people to check out on a price point when it requires a quote or the hours are not calculated in advance (i.e. post payment). I’ll try to address these things if I can find good solutions for them :) I already have a few up my sleeve :)

      But you may want to also look into using something like FreshBooks as well for generating invoices for service-based activities. I think FreedCamp can do this and allow you to track hours and projects too.

  8. Hi,
    this is great but I’ve been trying to find info on how to set up additional pages in my shop to sell products from a particular group (for example, all shirts on one page, all pants on another, etc) which is accessed from one home shop page but I can’t find anything.

    Any ideas where I can find some really straight forward instructions to set this type of thing up?

    • Hi Kristy, this is very simple to do out of the box with WooCommerce. I would contact their support docs to find out more. If you are using one of the Elegant Themes, consult the e-commerce portion in the support docs on this site. You may need a combination of both.

  9. I have to revisit woocommerce I guess. Thanks for the article. I was always under impression that woocommerse is built on principle “free core – paid extensions”. Hence I started doing sites mostly on OpenCart.

  10. Long and informative post. I heard first time about the extensions. Surely I’ll try few of them. Thanks for the share.

  11. My organization is in the process of designing a new site using one of your eCommerce theme’s and wooCommerce. We are an education nonprofit and we will be using wooCommerace as a class registration portal.

    • Hi Meade, you may want to have a look at some Learning Management System plugins that can integrate with WooCommerce. For example, WP Courseware and LearnDash.

  12. Isn’t AbesMarket.com made with Magento and not wordpress ?
    can you please list an example of a website done with Woocomerce that works as AbesMarket.com in order to have a good example to follow?

    • Hi Emanuele, Abe’s Market was just an example of a vendor type store. Amazon and Etsy also are likely not using WooCommerce :) To find other examples of stores using this particular plugin I would contact IgniteWoo, since they are the makers of it. I tried contacting them a couple times myself but have never had success. So if you do get through to them, let me know!

  13. Hi Joyce, I think I am looking for something that is similar to Rebecca’s query; I create custom wood art but am often asked to give a quote for something I’ve made before. Either way, the client places a deposit before I start their piece. It can take up to three weeks for an item to be crafted and then the customer is billed for the remaining payment and the item is shipped to them (after their payment has cleared, etc…).
    I can visualize what kind of system I would need, but I haven’t really seen anything out there currently that could handle this multi-part/delayed payment type. Does what Rebecca is looking for sound like it would work for what I need, or have you found something that would be more appropriate for this in your search?
    Looking forward to part 2 =) Great articles!

  14. Hi there, which user role creator plugin would you recommend for the restricted category access?

    • Hi Tanya!
      I have used a user role plugin before but in general when I look for a plugin I would go to the WordPress.org repository and evaluate the plugin’s quality by ratings, reviews, when it was last updated and the number of downloads. So the one I’ve used may not be the one that’s the ‘hottest’ right now. You may want to do some digging around this. I usually never settle on the first plugin I find for my needs. And over time, things change too.

      If it is a free plugin however, and it’s not on the WordPress.org repository that would cause me to raise some eyebrows. I’ve heard that WordPress.org is starting to hold plugin authors to a certain level of quality and adherence to coding guidelines. So if a plugin can’t make it through their review, and is free, that would not be a good sign.

      BUT if you find a premium paid plugin out there that is not on the WordPress.org repository then your hunt may be a bit more difficult. I would go with trusted brands or really good seller reviews.

      If the plugin is something like $7 though, that would cause me to raise eyebrows again :)

  15. Yes, woocommerce itself has lots of things to add and play with, but Divi doesn’t integrates seamlessly with it at all, in fact the most revolutionary part of Divi, the Page Builder, cannot be used for the woocommerce pages… Divi just applies it’s main design to it as does every other theme in the world, but u cannot use Page Builder to customize it to match the rest of the customized Divi site…

    And, please, do not get the wrong idea here, I don’t hate Divi, I do love it and use it a lot!!! I just think it’s too sad that u cannot use the Page Builder power to get a unique look out of woocommerce, instead u get stuck with the default Divi design. U can build thousands of unique Divi sites, but they will all have the same woocommerce looking, which doesn’t make any sense to me… If u build a unique site design, the idea would be to apply it to the store too, don’t u think?

    The shop module makes no sense either since a) u cannot customize any other woocommerce page, so only the shop will have a unique look and b) there is no pagination for products, so if u have 50 or more (which is very common) they will all load at the same time on that same page taking too long…

    Anyways… really well done with Divi, cannot say the same referring to the integration with woocommerce that, from my point of view, doesn’t exist at all…

  16. Hi!
    I am looking for a simple solution (which seemingly would be very much in demand) to allow my customers to request a customized quote (with quantities and product lists), rather than purchase (check-out) directly online. This is the only possible solution when you are marketing highly specialized or tailor-made products, such as industrial equipment and spare parts. However, I can’t find anything of the kind here.. Perhaps you could think of a plug-in or woo-extention to serve the purpose?
    Thank you very much in advance.

  17. Our consignment store client has one-of-a-kind products setup with stock management set to “1,” but the unique items are on the store floor for sale too. Any advice on a real-time POS system at physical store so they don’t sell the same item twice? Woo-commerce/ET’s eStore theme.

    • Hi Michael I am pretty sure QuickBooks has a POS system that can integrate with WooCommerce but you’ll need to look into it more. You might be able to find it on the Woothemes.com extensions search for WooCommerce. My own hurdle with that when I looked into it for a client in the past was that it was seemingly American based. So if you needed to deal with taxes or a set up that is particular to your country (and that country is not America) you might have a problem. But that being said, my reading left me confused and if I were you I would call them to find out more.

  18. Is it possible that you guys might also do an article on doing “affiliate marketing” for those of us that sell as affiliates? I know that most of the plugins and Woo Commerce themes are made for people that are selling a product directly, but there is also a need for people doing affiliate sales.

    What I am looking for is a way to list products using places like Commission Junction. Although CJ has recently started letting marketers create “widgets” that allow for groups of products to be shown, it would be nice to see some of the theme developers also including this in their themes.

    Please consider doing an article that would also accommodate us!

    Thanks…

    • Hi Denise, did you not see the Product Retailers extension mentioned in this article?

      Affiliate marketing is quite different. I would check out this article I wrote about John Chow’s advice: http://www.joycegrace.ca/2012/09/what-would-john-chow-teach-a-bunch-of-internet-marketers/

      The main thing with affiliate marketing is actually list building and customer retention, not so much e-commerce, though that could come eventually. The whole idea of ‘e-commerce’ in the realm of affiliate marketing is the assumption that you will get one customer to buy one thing and then leave, and that is fundamentally wrong. All businesses need repeat customers. So John Chow’s main point, and the reason for his success, is that you have to secure future contact with your customers. All affiliate marketers will say “the money is in the list.” So the real question is, how are you going to do your list building :)

      John Chow also has advice for that. He has a book too, you might want to check out.

  19. WooCommerce has given a huge opportunity to everyone to come and explore the world of online store. Anyone with basic knowledge of computing can make it happen with little effort and determination and the list of extensions you have covered above along with some of the great extensions like subscriptions, bookings, gravity forms etc.. it is becoming more and more powerful

  20. Some great resources there Joyce. I especially like the Wholesale pricing extensions. Thanks :-)

  21. Hi Joyce,
    Which would you recommend for selling digital downloads.
    Easy Digital Downloads or Woocommerce

  22. I have WooCommerce and LOVE it! I have now set up my shop with variations and add-ons and it’s working great. Still think there are some tweaks that could be done to the add-ons functionality to make it even better, but overall I am very happy with WooCommerce and all the extensions it offers. With regard to the wholesale pricing I’d like to find a way to have it available, but those items I am wholesaling would not even be seen by anyone not using a wholesale account. There are a group of people I work with to do “group buys” because we are all small businesses and do not yet have enough capital or business to warrant buying 5,000 of something on our own. So as a group we buy it together and then we sometimes have extra supplies that we may sell to people in that group later. I’d like to offer them a portal to shop from, but only they would see these items. Does that make sense?

  23. I would like to use the Boutique theme with WooCommerce. I can’t find any info on the theme page or elsewhere that discusses its compatability with Woocommerce. Can someone let me know? Thank you.

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