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:
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
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:
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
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
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
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!