Going Loco


Boutique partitions its home page into four stacked 3-column product type sections, such as the one titled Featured Products.

But what if you (or your client) want to change section headings?

Now you may think you can go into your some editor on the administrator panel and just change the HTML code.  In fact, you cannot do this.

If you know PHP (as all regular mom and pop store owners of course do!) you can just ftp over to the content files on Siteground’s server, and start mucking around with Storefront source.  This is not a good idea.  I tried it, and hosed the site.  This is not a simple matter, like working with a local HTML file on your desktop browser.

So if you want to change these section titles without touching any code, the free plugin Loco Translate does the job.  The trick is you just add a new language, English, and then “translate” from English to English those terms (in this case, the titles-related translatable terms that the plug presents to you) that you wish to change (in Storefront).  This plugin also protects you from future changes to Storefront ruining your mods.  Beautiful thing, that.

Adding products by hand is very time-consuming.  If you are a small shop owner, you do not have the resources to have things set up in a relational database, with a team of IT people to write extract and loading scripts for you.

What you probably have is a Products spreadsheet.

It’s therefore a good idea to install the free WP CSV Import plugin.  It really helps to at least partially automate the uploading of all those SKUs and associated attributes into Woocommerce.  Naturally you have to map your existing Products spreadsheet (if you have one) to a load spreadsheet that works correctly with the WP CSV import plugin.  And you still have to manually add your gimped pics (or add links to where these are stored), so the process remains time-consuming.

Realistically, for a busy shop owner, figure (if you are doing this yourself after hours, while running the shop) on being able to load about 20 products a day. 40 if you are a totally tireless Ninja, with nothing else to do.  Of course if you are able to get someone to do this for you around the clock, this will be much faster.  Note that it is better to load no more than 30-40 products at a time, due to potential time out issues.

That said, it will take the average semi technical store owner half a month if he or she has, say, 500 products to populate this database, if they are stuck doing it alone, unless you are able to find for them an alternative and affordable solution (having a developer who is billing by the hour rationalize the data and populate this db is not cost-effective; a reliable high school kid is probably a much better idea for this sort of work).  Accuracy is not easy to find on the cheap, so DIY is probably how most small B&M store owners will go — absent the proverbial geeky high schooler.

Add in the possible necessity of taking product pics (downloading them from the vendor’s site is a better alternative, if these are available and suitable), cropping them, connecting everything together correctly, and you begin to realize that loading your product catalog represents SIGNIFICANT sweat equity on the store owner’s part.

It is also error prone, and tedious.  Which is why it’s important for a store owner to determine upfront their options (beyond CSV) in terms of the ability of their business to “seamlessly” migrate their catalog to other platforms, such as, say, Shopify, as business and technical requirements change.

On a more interesting note, in the future, after the store is up and running, I will start to write more technical posts that have to do with the underlying MySQL DB schema for Woocommerce. (This is old hat to developers, but in case you are not that technoidal, Filezilla client or something like is eventually going to turn into your new long lost friend — if you wish to start looking at the underlying db hosted at Siteground where your site lives.)

A taste of things to come: since Woocommerce is build on top of WP, everything is a post.

So an order or a product are nothing more than types of posts.

Woothemes extended the underlying schema (which I understand is composed of 11 or so main tables), and I shall get into that in some detail.  Actually, a lot of detail.

But first things first.