Fredrick is a professional tech writer and blogger. He blogs about ecommerce, hardware and software fixes, video games, and product reviews.
Displaying products on a WordPress online store can really be a nightmare for an eCommerce newbie. When I started building my online shop, I thought it would be a no-brainer to place my items on the homepage of my website. But the whole task was quite an uphill struggle!
According to my own experience, getting products to appear on your website can consume a lot of your time, especially if you are new to eCommerce. I came to learn that it is a task that requires some good knowledge of WordPress.
If you are creating a WordPress online store for the first time, you definitely need to learn how to set up a general website with this content management system. You also need to get conversant with things like eCommerce plugins, widgets and shortcodes. In addition, if you are using WooCommerce, you need to know about the available product display options and understand the general settings of the plugin. This simple guide on how to create an online store and display items (by Elbert Shimomura) explains all these and I found it quite helpful.
In this article, I am going to discuss five ways to display and arrange products on a WordPress eCommerce website. Read on to learn how to get items appear on your website pages and how to arrange them accordingly.
Five Ways to Display and Arrange Items on a WordPress Online Shop
- The automatic method
1. Using the Automatic Method
As the name suggests, you don't have to do anything to make the products to appear on the shop page. The items get displayed as you add them from the dashboard. They are automatically arranged in alphabetical order or randomly with or without categories depending on your WooCommerce display settings.
The homepage can only accommodate a certain number of products, which means that if you have a large number of products, some of them will be placed on pages 2, 3, 4 and so on.
This method makes it difficult for your customers to know all the types of products on your shop since it doesn’t include categories and some items are hidden on other pages.
You may have to avoid this method if you can use some better methods (described below) to display items. But if you have a number of items that can fit on one page i.e., the homepage, then you can adopt this method.
2. Using Widgets
As you may be aware, a widget in WordPress is a small block of content that can be placed on the sidebar and footer sections. It provides a simple and easy way to customize a website. Some common widgets include: recent posts, search box, categories and footer menu.
In an eCommerce website, widgets can be used to display product categories on the sidebar or footer. They can therefore be a great way to boost the automatic method (discussed above) which does not feature product categories.
Some great widgets that come with eCommerce WordPress themes include popular products, recent products, best-selling products, top-rated products and featured products. These widgets are customizable which means that you can rename them with the actual categories of your items. You can also drag and drop them to get an arrangement that suits your style.
Since widgets can only display products on the sidebars and footers, most online shop owners find them undesirable. The best place to display items is on the main bar of a page, something which cannot be achieved with widgets.
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3. Using Plugins
In WordPress, a plugin is a set of programs that contains a group of functions, features or services. In this content management system, there are tens of thousands of plugins (both free and premium) suitable for a wide range of needs. There are plugins for all types of websites, for example, there are plugins for eCommerce (like WooCommerce), directories, blogs, resale and booking platforms.
When it comes to displaying and arranging items on an online shop, there are a myriad of plugins that you can use to perform this task. But most of the plugins are not quite effective, so you need to go for the ones that have been proven to work.
The most recommended plugins for displaying items on a WordPress online store are Ultimate Product Catalog and WooCommerce Product Sort and Display.
The sort-and-display plugin works better with another plugin called Endless Scroll which allows you to display a large number of items on your shop page. After installing and activating the two plugins, you need to go to the product categories and drag and drop the categories to achieve the right display. You can then set the number of products to show per category with links to view all.
As for the sorting, the plugin comes with default sort and sort by popularity, newness, price (low to high and vice versa), on sale and featured. Some of these features come with the premium version of the plugin, so it is recommended to use this version.
The other plugin, Ultimate Product Catalog, is a bit complex. After installing and activating the plugin, you need to add all your products and categories onto it in order to get IDs that you can use in shortcodes to display your items. You also need to create some small catalogues for your items.
For example, the following shortcode will show products on the catalog with ID "x".
[product-catalogue id="x"] or [product-catalog id="x"]
The plugin is packed with features such as customizable catalog layouts, sale prices, product import, currency symbol, breadcrumbs, social media share, product review & ratings, SEO by Yoast integration and a large number of setting options.
The product catalog styles included in the plugin include: minimalist, block, hover and tabbed layout. Some of these styles, and also some of the features described above, are available with the premium version of the plugin.
4. Using Shortcodes
If you are using WooCommerce for your online store, you can find shortcodes to be the simplest way to display products on your shop page. The shortcodes work with product and category IDs and SKUs, and can just be copied and pasted on the shop page to display items. See the shortcodes below.
[show_categories] – shows categories listing.
[product_categories] – shows a specific number of categories, and it works well with the following arguments. Note: These arguments can also work with this shortcode [show_products].
- number="null" – to show number of categories.
- orderby="name" – to show categories when ordered by name. Note: The value "name" can be replaced with date, rand (random), modified and none.
- order="asc" – to show categories when ordered in ascending order. Note: The value "asc" can be replaced with "desc" to order in descending order.
- columns="x" – to show "x" columns of a category.
- hide_empty="1" – to hide categories.
- hide_empty="0" – to show categories.
- parent="0" – to display top-level categories.
- ids="x" – to show category with id "x".
- category="x" – to show category "x".
- categories_limit – to show a limited number of categories.
- archive_template – to show a specific archive template for a particular listing.
- design_scheme – to show a specific color or size.
- sort="0" – to disable product sort selector.
- sort="1" – to enable product sort selector.
- pagination="1" – to enable shortcode pagination.
- post_type – to show entries from a different post type.
- per_row – to show products per row.
- empty – to show a certain text when there are no products to display.
- [product_category category="x" per_page=”y” columns="z" orderby="date" order="desc"] – displays "y" items of category "x" displayed in "z" columns and arranged in descending order depending on the date they were posted.
- [show_products] – shows products listing.
- [product_name] – shows product name. Note: The value "name" can be replaced with other values to form more shortcodes. Some of these values include: price, description, short description, attribute table, SKU, shipping, gallery and related categories.
- [product_listing_categories] – shows categories for current product listing page.
- [product_listing_products] – shows products for current product listing page.
- [product_breadcrumbs] – shows breadcrumbs.
- [products_limits] – shows a limited number of products.
- [back_to_products_url] – shows a back to products URL which points to the main product listing page.
- [sale_products] – shows products currently on sale.
- [product id="x"] – shows product with id "x".
- [product id="x, y, z"] – shows products with ids "x", "y" and "z".
- [product sku="xyz"] – shows product with SKU "xyz"
- [product sku="abc", "def", "ghi"] – shows product with SKU "abc", "def" and "ghi".
- [add_to_cart id="x"] – shows price and add to cart button for a product with id "x".
- [add_to_cart sku="x"] – shows price and add to cart button for a product with SKU "x".
- [show_products products_limit="x"] – displays maximum "x" items.
- [product_attribute attribute="abc" filter="def"] – displays products with a certain attribute i.e., attribute "color" and the color being "black".
- [recent_products per_page="x" columns="y" orderby="date" order="desc"] - displays "x" recent products displayed in "y" columns and arranged in descending order depending on the date they were posted.
- [featured_products per_page="x" columns="y" orderby="date" order="desc"] - displays "x" featured products displayed in "y" columns and arranged in descending order depending on the date they were posted.
- [popular_products per_page="x" columns="y" orderby="date" order="desc"] - displays "x" popular products displayed in "y" columns and arranged in descending order depending on the date they were posted.
- [top_rated_products per_page="x" columns="y" orderby="date" order="desc"] - displays "x" top-rated products displayed in "y" columns and arranged in descending order depending on the date they were posted.
- [best_selling_products per_page="x" columns="y" orderby="date" order="desc"] - displays "x" best-selling products displayed in "y" columns and arranged in descending order depending on the date they were posted.
- [related_products per_page="x" columns="y" orderby="date" order="desc"] - displays "x" related products displayed in "y" columns and arranged in descending order depending on the date they were posted.
- [show_products archive_template="list"] – shows product listing with classic list template. Note: Other templates like 'grid' and 'default' can be used in place of 'list'.
- [show_products category="x" archive_template="classic_list"] – shows products from category with id "x" and with classic list template.
Note: If you are good in coding, you can tweak these shortcodes to achieve better product display and arrangement.
5. Using Sliders
In case you didn’t know, a slider is a webpage element that is used to highlight a group of selected posts. It is like a slideshow which means that it displays one post at a time, moving from one to the next automatically or through clicking.
To display products with sliders, you need to replace the posts with your products. When it comes to creating a product slider, you need a responsive slider plugin like Soliloguy. After installing and activating the plugin, you need to add a new slider, and you can do this by using photos, links and other necessary details of your items. The next step is to save or publish your slider in order to get a shortcode and template tag.
Finally, you need to copy and paste the shortcode on your homepage or any other page to display the products. The template tag can display items on the header section of your theme. You just need to copy the tag, open your header.php and paste it on the coded page.
WooCommerce has a plugin called Products Slider which is tailored for eCommerce. It works like a typical slider plugin, but it features some more settings and options. I encourage you to see if it can help you with item display and arrangement.
Displaying and arranging items on your WordPress eCommerce website is quite simple and easy with these five methods. If you have been finding it difficult to display and arrange products on your online shop, you should now start performing these two tasks with much ease. Just choose a method that you think can work for you and place those products on your homepage in a smarter way.
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- WooCommerce. Shortcodes Included with WooCommerce. docs.woocommerce.com. WooCommerce. (2016).
- Truman S., Tuan N., Ar3rev Software. WooCommerce Product Sort and Display Plugin. wordpress.org. Ar3rev Software. (2013).
- YiThemes. Yith Infinite Scrolling Plugin. wordpress.org. YITHEMES. (2017).
- Razzak S. An Exclusive Guide For WooCommerce Products Slider Plugin. cloudways.com. Cloudways Ltd. (2016).
- Balkhi S. How to Easily Create a Responsive WordPress Slider with Soliloquy. wpbeginner.com. WPBeginner. (2014).
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Fredrick JS
sam on June 06, 2018:
awesome post!!thanks was great help!
Colin on May 11, 2018:
Fredrick JS (author) from Intercontinental on November 04, 2017:
Happy that you got help!
Michelle on November 03, 2017:
This was a HUGE help. Thank you for saving me some time!