WooCommerce, WordPress’ most versatile ecommerce system, is the best bet for anyone starting out with an ecommerce store. It’s easy to set up, easier to use and is extremely scalable so you won’t be considering switching to an even larger ecosystem anytime soon. But you already know that, given how you’re reading a post with a title like this one.
What you wouldn’t know is that setting up a fully functional WooCommerce store for the German market isn’t as straightforward as it is for most other international markets that WooCommerce caters too.
Germany, while being the most lucrative ecommerce market in all of Europe, is known to be exceptionally stringent with its ecommerce laws. The Consumer Rights Legislation of 2014 rewrites the legal framework under which an individual can carry out business online. Follow this up with the 2015 EU VATMOSS shake-up and you’ll see how specific one needs to be while establishing an ecommerce store for the German market.
WooCommerce and Germany: The Slippery Slopes
Under the new rules, a consumer must be clearly informed about his rights before order completion. The legislation also specifies where exactly is this information to be displayed. Here’s how all of this applies to WooCommerce:
1. Product Pricing
Displaying product price in German online shops is very different from the default display in WooCommerce. In order to operate a legally secure shop, product price must be displayed right next to VAT and shipping costs.
The standard check out solution provided by WooCommerce is a problem. Missing in the default product table is an appropriate VAT notice (in compliance with VATMOSS) and also the means to display delivery times to the customer. Moreover, customization of the product table as per the theme renders results that’s drastically different than one would expect. The purchase button does not meet the legal requirements either, German laws make it mandatory to display text along the lines of Buy Now or Order Paid (in German, of course).
3. Order Confirmation
And the list goes on. If there’s one takeaway from all of this, it’s that WooCommerce is ill suited for the German market when used without the requisite modifications.
The Fix – WooCommerce Germanized
Developed by Vendidero, WooCommerce Germanized is a single step solution to making sure that your WooStore is in compliance with the laws of the land. The plugin adds functionalities such as Delivery Times, Base Prices, Shipping Costs, Tax Notices and provides for legally relevant pages like Terms and Conditions, Revocations etc.
And it’s absolutely free!
In case you’re looking for more, there’s also a Pro version with additional features like Invoices, Packing Slips and Conclusion of Contract. However, the base plugin should suffice if all you’re looking for is not to be penalized for business malpractices.
While WooCommerce does have integrations with most popularly used payment methods like PayPal, Stripe and 2checkout, WooCommerce also caters to integrations with payment gateways that are specific to the German market.
Shipcloud is possibly the most reliable shipping solution in Germany. And it should come as no surprise that WooCommerce has provisions for integrating the same with your system. One would simply need to install the WooCommerce Shipcloud integration to allows German users to easily manage shipping options during checkout. Shipcloud as a service is entirely cloud based, which ensures that your financial data is secure and in safe hands.
Configuring the extension is no rocket science, and you’ll find a detailed User Guide on their website to make things even simpler.
I couldn’t have stressed more on how important invoicing is to your business when you offer products and services in the German territory. Thus, having a functional and efficient bookkeeping service for your WooStore is crucial to your business.
Q-Invoice does just that, and more. It is an intuitive and flexible invoicing service that let’s you easily send professional invoices to all your customers upon purchase. Features include setting up of periodic invoices for subscriptions or hosting, a quotes system with online approval or disapproval, reminders and second memories and localization in terms of language and currency. A recent update also adds in the ability to digitally sign documents!
That Extra Edge: Customize Products and Pricing
Alright so you’ve successfully set up a WooStore and the business is ready to roll, but what happens when you need to customize your pricing and your products?
Customer Specific Pricing is a powerful tool when it’s about building on customer loyalty and offering special prices to your recurring clientele. Would it not be amazing if your favourite currywurst joint offered you a special discount on all their dishes, just because you’re a regular there?
Or how about letting your customers build a personalized product bundle wherein they can add their choice of products from your store and buy them at a killer deal? Capitalize on the features Custom Product Boxes and watch as it sets your cash registers ringing.
The possibilities are endless here. After all, it’s not about ideas, as it is about making ideas happen.