How To Set Up eCommerce on WordPress Multisite in Under 10 Minutes

How To Set Up eCommerce on WordPress Multisite in Under 10 Minutes

In this post, we’re going to help you get a store, and even a network of online stores, set up in under 10 minutes. Did you know eCommerce could be this simple?

To be honest, setting up almost anything in WordPress can often be done under 10 minutes when using plugins. Install. Activate. Done. Under 10 minutes.

Because it’s WordPress, the same plugin installation process used to extend a small function of a small blog can be used to set up a large chain of online stores on a multisite network. All you have to do is:

  1. Start with a working installation of WordPress Multisite.
  2. Add an eCommerce plugin.
  3. Activate the plugin network-wide.
  4. Configure the settings for your store
  5. Add products.

Becoming the next eCommerce tycoon like Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, or Sophia Amoruso is really that simple!

To show you just how simple it is, I’m going to walk you through the steps on how to set a network of stores in WordPress Multisite in under ten minutes.

Illustration of eCommerce on multiple devices.
Let’s install a network of eCommerce sites on a single WordPress installation using Multisite!

Step 1 – Install WordPress Multisite

The first step is to start with a working installation of WordPress Multisite.

If you host your network of eCommerce stores on WPMU DEV’s dedicated WordPress hosting, feel free to include this step in your 10-minute challenge. I’ve just set up a demo WordPress Multisite network for this tutorial on WPMU DEV’s hosting and it literally took me under 30 seconds to go from concept to Multisite installation (and SSL-enabled too, which is an absolute must if you plan to sell anything online.)

Install Multisite on WPMUDEV hosting
From WordPress blog to WPMU network in under 30 seconds!

If you plan to set up your WordPress multisite on another hosting environment, it may take you a little longer, so don’t count it as part of your 10 minutes ;) (Shameless plug: The reason why WPMU installations on WPMU DEV hosting is so blazing fast and seamless is because Multisite is what we’re known for. We host millions of education sites and blogs on our Multisite-powered “sister” sites CampusPress and Edublogs. We’ve not only perfected the art of installing Multisite networks, we even stake our name on it!)

If you need help with this step, check out our guide on how to set up WordPress Multisite. Also, if you need help building an online store, see our comprehensive guide to planning an eCommerce store with WordPress.

Step 2 – Add An eCommerce Plugin

Once you have your Multisite installation set up, the next step is to install an eCommerce plugin.

For this example, we’ll use WooCommerce. you can use whichever WordPress eCommerce plugin you prefer.

Ok… ready to install eCommerce on WordPress Multisite? Start your timer… now!

First, log into your WordPress site, then go to My Sites > Network Admin > Plugins 

Multisite Plugins Menu
Use My Sites > Network Admin menu to install plugins network wide.

From here, the process is the same as installing any other WordPress plugin via the dashboard.

Click Add New

Multisite Plugins Add New
Click Add New to add a new plugin.

Search for your eCommerce plugin using the search box or upload the plugin files using the ‘Upload Plugin’ button.

As we are installing WooCommerce, locate the plugin and click Install Now

Multisite Plugins Install Now button
Install your eCommerce plugin.

Step 3 – Activate The Plugin Network-Wide

When installing plugins via the Network Admin interface, you will see a ‘Network Activate’ button. Click this button to activate your eCommerce plugin throughout your network of sites.

Multisite Plugins Network Activate button
Activate your eCommerce plugin network-wide.

All sites on your network should now be eCommerce enabled. To check if the plugin has been installed and activated correctly, go to Sites > All Sites, then select any site and click the Visit link…

WPMU sites screen with visit link highlighted
Check any site on your network to see if the plugin has installed successfully.

The site should be eCommerce-enabled and operational.

eCommerce enabled site on multisite installation
All sites on your WPMU network are now eCommerce-enabled … woohoo!

Ok… stop the clock! How did you do? You now have eCommerce set up on a Multisite network!

Steps 4 and 5 are just configuring your store settings and adding products, same as if you were setting up an online store on a single WordPress installation.

Create Your Own Premium Hosted Network of Stores

Have you considered setting up eCommerce sites for your clients, running multiple online stores yourself, or even starting a niche marketplace for online vendors like Etsy that can be easily managed from one WordPress installation? If so, enabling eCommerce on a WordPress Multisite network could be the solution you’re looking for.

If you activate eCommerce network-wide using Multisite, you will be able to build a community of networked stores, each with their own separate logins, products, payment gateways, and settings. With a little tweaking, you can use the main blog site as an aggregate of all of your stores with featured new products selected from among the stores in the same way that you might feature posts from different blogs.

The possibilities from here on are endless. You can combine this with paid membership sites to run multivendor sites, build a hosting business providing eCommerce and support, or run your own premium hosted store network of sites.

Whether you plan to set up eCommerce sites for your clients or run multiple online stores yourself with Multisite, make sure to host with a company that not only specializes in WordPress but is also experienced with hosting multisite networks of all sizes.

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Martin Aranovitch
Martin Aranovitch Martin believes that we can all live sustainably in a WordPress-centric digital universe and spends most of his time taking copious notes and creating epic tutorials to prove his theory. Before joining WPMU DEV, Martin authored many WordPress guides and courses for beginners.
What features would be important to you across a network of online stores? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.