How to Hide Your Shop Using the Woocommerce Private Store Plugin
The advantages of eCommerce stores are huge. An online store allows you to reach a very large number of consumers around the world, establish a stable relationship with them, and build your online community without having to spend money on hiring staff. There is no need to compare offline and online stores, they are two completely different forms and one does not exclude the other in any way.
You might be in a dilemma whether to go out with your products to an online marketplace or to create your own online store. Our recommendation is, if you want to build a strong brand, always create your own online store. If you thought that it required some special skills and developer’s knowledge, you are wrong. Starting an online store with WooCommerce is much easier than it sounds, and provides you with plenty of choices about the type of webshop you want to establish.
So, if your idea of a webshop does not imply reaching a wide audience and being available for everyone but what you want is to target a specific target group, with WooCommerce that is also possible.
Who Can Benefit from a WooCommerce Private Store?
Although limiting your audience doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, it is actually very desirable in some cases. First of all, by restricting access to members only, for example, you can make your brand seem more exclusive, even luxurious. If you are selling B2B, you might want to protect your product catalog from the views of the people that can’t buy your products. Then, there are those niche-specific types of stores, like the Guidefitter that gathers fishing fans and where they enjoy special benefits. Direct sales companies like Oriflame have products that everyone can buy and products reserved for members only and making some pages private on their site is essential for their business. There are certainly many more situations when a private WooCommerce store makes a perfect solution. We will show you what it can do for you, and that may give you even more ideas on how to use it for your benefit.
Our Choice: Private WooCommerce Store by Barn2
I had the chance to test a variety of plugins. I wanted to find one that is easy to use and beginner-friendly, but at the same time efficient and feature-rich so that I have all the functionalities that a private store needs in one tool. Based on these general criteria, I narrowed the choice to WooCommerce Private Store by Barn2. I liked it because it is super user-friendly, you get exactly what you need in just a few clicks and you have a full-fledged private online store ready in a blink of an eye, without any type of developer or coding knowledge being necessary.
This is the way the plugin works: as soon as you activate it, only the people who have the logins can access the shop. You can choose between two ways to allow access to the private WooCommerce store: Set a password for the webshop, or unlock it for logged in users (or specific user roles).
Either way, only people with the correct logins can see the shop pages on your site (shop, products, categories, cart, etc.) while others can browse the other pages on your site while the shop will be hidden from them.
A very important thing to know is that a webshop created with this plugin has zero visibility on the search engine, while the rest of the site is recognized as usual. It is a really perfect solution if you want a hidden webshop available only for the specified types of users. In this tutorial we will guide you through the whole process so that you can set your store even faster:
If you have decided that this is the right plugin for you, adding it to your site is very simple. This is a premium plugin and like other ones it comes in different packages with different prices, you can see all the details on their website. What is definitely included in the price is top-notch customer support and updates. Updates are hugely important when choosing plugins since WooCommerce and WordPress are constantly evolving and the plugins you add should follow that development.
After you complete the purchase on their site, you get an email with your download link and license key. You also get an account from where you download these.
Your account also provides you with an overview of all the activities you had with Barn2 plugins.
The plugin installation is no different from any other. You simply download the zip file for the plugin and add it to your WordPress website and activate it.
As with the majority of plugins (and themes too), after the activation, you have to add the license key. Without the key, the plugin is not yet activated.
To do that, go to WooCommerce > Settings.
What you might notice as new in these settings is the new tab – the Private Store tab, where you activate the key and adjust all the other settings for this plugin. You will also notice a message that reminds you to enter your key above the settings.
You only need to copy the license key.
And you are ready!
We have already mentioned above where all settings are located: WooCommerce > Settings > Private store.
The first thing we can see is that we can set more than one password. In case we want all users to have the same password, one is enough. If we have specific categories of users then we can set a password separately for each category (or each user).
Password valid for – indicates how many days the above password will be valid. After that period, it will no longer be possible to use it (unless the date is not extended again).
When we have different users and want to set the different duration of their access to the shop, we can do this in two ways. The one I recommend is to delete the user’s password from the list on the day when his access code expires. If you are afraid that you will not be able to do delete it on time, then it is best to adjust the number of days to the user with the shortest validity period of the password. However, this way, if you don’t remember to enter and delete the invalid pass at that moment and extend the number of days for other users, the others will also be denied the purchase.
Once logged in, the user is automatically redirected to the default shop page. If you want to direct the user to some other page, enter the other URL in the Redirected URL field.
Automatically unlock the store for logged in users – if this is checked all logged in users can access the shop, regardless of their role on the website. However, we also have a field in which we can define what roles we want the site to be available for as soon as they log in. If we check a customer role here, only the customers will be able to see the shop, other roles will not have access.
This is how the Login page looks like for users who have the password and are about to log in.
Of course, it is possible to customize the login form and change the texts in the labels. The procedure is simple, there is no need to explain it further, just make the changes for the desired names.
After login, users access the shop and can use it and make orders.
Via Custom Link in the Menu
To show you what I mean by “these shop pages are not visible to unregistered users” carefully look at the following example. When creating the menu, I added two important items to it: Shop – default WooCommerce page where all products are listed, link to the Shop (Custom Shop Link) – where I added the Custom Links item in the menu with a link to the same WooCommerce page.
When I saved the menu and went to the home page, what I saw in the menu as an unregistered user was just a Link to a shop item. The shop item does not appear until I register as a user.
However, when I click on the link to the shop it takes me to the registration field and that’s exactly what I wanted. This is one way to direct the user to the registration.
The registration page opens:
The only important thing here is to take into account that after registration, the default Shop page also appears in the menu:
All in all, when the registration page is displayed this way, it is not necessary to put the real link to the shop in the Menu. If you use one of the following two ways, I recommend adding that link to make it easier for users to navigate through the site.
Via the Button on the Page
Another easy way to direct users to the registration page is the button. The only thing you need to do in this case is to put a link to the shop page, as above. You can place the button anywhere on the page according to your preference.
In case you do not want a completely new page for the registration, but only to integrate the registration form into an existing one, you can use the shortcode plugin
[store_login]. Simply add it to the page where it fits you best, quickly and easily.
All three methods are easy to follow and equally efficient, it only depends on what you need.
As you can see, you do not need any special, additional investments or knowledge to set up a private webshop. The great thing about this plugin is that it has been tested on a large number of WP themes, so you can be sure there will be no unpleasant surprises at any stage of its usage. It will perfectly work with any shop WordPress theme, and in case you encounter any challenge, you can completely rely on excellent customer support. However, if you want to protect your whole website, not only your shop, you can always go one step forward and protect your website with a password.
We hope this article was helpful. If you liked it, feel free to check out some of these articles as well!