WooCommerce & PayFast. Absolutely free.

This is huge. WooCommerce, one of the most popular shopping cart systems in the world, with over a million downloads strong and counting, now has the PayFast payment extension available as a free download on their website. This makes for the only South African gateway with free WooCommerce integration. Both PayFast and WooCommerce are hoping that this will at least remove one of the barriers to selling online in South Africa and getting more people on board, buyers and sellers.

Sure, the previous price of $79 might not have been the end of the world, but now you can get started selling online using WordPress (free), a theme (free or paid), WooCommerce (free) and the PayFast extension (also free) a to showcase your goods and, well, PayFast to accept payments (we also don’t charge a monthly fee, you only pay for each successful transaction). And you get to own all your data, as it will be hosted by you. Yes, you’re going to need to get hosting and a domain, but that’s another blog post altogether :-)

Here follows a how-to guide in setting up your WooCommerce shop with PayFast.

About WooCommerce


WooCommerce was launched by WooThemes back in August, 2011 and has grown to be the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress (by far) with a score of powerful features and extensions available. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the features when you visit their site, but some worth highlighting:

  • It passed a full security audit by WP security firm Sucuri
  • Beautiful reporting
  • Coupons, campaigns, special-offers and other promotional tools
  • Detailed shipping, tax and price customisation
  • Search engine optimised
  • Works out-of-the-box with thousands of WordPress themes
  • Many, many more features through plugins (theirs and third party)

Getting started

Note that WooCommerce gets updated all the time. Your dashboard and the buttons/settings might vary by the time you read this. Always check with Woo for the latest version and installation instructions!

As mentioned, there are a thousand different ways to set up and customise your shop with WooCommerce. We’ll focus on just the basic settings:

You’ll need a working installation of WordPress and preferably an eCommerce theme (search over at WooThemes or ThemeForest), but it will work with the standard WordPress 2013 (or 2012, 2011…) theme. You can download WooCommerce by searching for it under the plugin installation feature or get it straight from their site.

After installation you can have WooCommerce automatically create the different pages it will require (such as the products page, the shopping cart page etc.).

Once you have WooCommerce installed, download and activate the free PayFast plugin from their site.

General options

WooCommerce PayFast General Options

Set the base location to South Africa and the currency to South African rand. If you only plan on delivering in South Africa, select it, but if you’re delivering digitally or internationally, just keep all countries.

Change the other cart settings as needed.

Catalog options

WooCommerce PayFast Catalog Options

The catalog is the way your products will be collectively showcased; image size, decimals for prices (or not), displaying ratings, weight and more.

Page setup

WooCommerce PayFast Page Options

These pages are needed and would have been created after installing WooCommerce (if you selected so from the nag message). You can select existing pages, if you already have a thank-you page set up, for example.

Inventory options

WooCommerce PayFast Inventory Options

WooCommerce can notify you if stock is running low and can remove sold-out products altogether from the catalog. Or you can just have it display as not being available. Customise, customise, customise…

Tax settings

WooCommerce PayFast Tax Options

You can set tax rules based on the buyer’s shipping address, include/exclude it (or show it as VAT inclusive/exclusive).

Shipping options

WooCommerce PayFast Shipping Options

You can allow for one or multiple delivery methods from the Shipping options tab. If you’re selling digitally downloadable products, you can just uncheck the box to not have shipping enabled.

Payment gateways

WooCommerce PayFast Options

If you’ve installed the (now) free PayFast plugin, you can select it from the Payment gateways tab. You can add a description (what PayFast is) and you’ll need to enter your PayFast Merchant ID and Merchant Key. Those are available from your PayFast account under the Settings tab (we also email those to you when you sign up for us, so just check your mailbox).

If you want to test your site, before making/accepting actual payments, enable the PayFast Sandbox.

Email options

WooCommerce PayFast Email Options

You can customise the way your customers’ transactional and notification emails will look like from the Email options tab. There are options to create custom messages for new orders, processing orders, completed orders, invoices, notes and more.

Integration

WooCommerce Integration Options

You can integrate with Google Analytics (or any other tracking software) from the Integration tab.

There are other settings that you can change from the WooCommerce tab in the sidebar, we won’t be covering those for now, but be sure to go over them for some advanced reports, coupons and notifications.

WooCommerce PayFast Sidebar

Adding products

Select the Products tab from the WordPress sidebar. It’s really straight forward to add a simple product, but WooCommerce allows you to add a lot of things such as an SKU, product price (and sale price), inventory levels, shipping rules, weight, dimensions and more.

WooCommerce PayFast Products

Your theme might have specific rules on how to display the products, but mostly product images are added to the Featured Image and Product Gallery tabs on the side.  The product’s description goes in the main text input area a shorter description can be optionally added at the bottom of the page.

Et voila! Without too much work, you have set up your very own, self-hosted store.

Online shop