There are many scenarios where online store owners might need to temporarily disable WooCommerce. For example, around the holiday season, due to a staff shortage, or simply because the products they sell aren’t available or on backorder.
In such cases, it’s a good idea to have a simple way to temporarily deactivate WooCommerce and let customers know when it’ll open up again. Ideally, you’d want to be able to use a plugin to do this instead of disabling your entire WooCommerce store or messing around with code.
It’s also important to bear in mind that if you disable WooCommerce (i.e. by deactivating the WooCommerce plugin from your WordPress website), you’ll end up with dead links. What this means is that whenever a visitor tries to access your WooCommerce pages (such as your shop page or single WooCommerce product pages), they’ll run into a 404 page not found error message. This is far from ideal, as it delivers a poor user experience, and prospective customers might think you’ve permanently closed your online store.
However, by using a plugin, you’ll be able to automatically hide all the links to your shop pages. The best part is that you won’t even have to edit any content or re-configure menus and widgets.
With this in mind, in this article, we’ll explain two different ways to temporarily disable your WooCommerce store. We’ll cover:
- How to temporarily remove your entire WooCommerce store from your public-facing website.
- How to temporarily hide specific categories only from your online store or disable the WooCommerce Shop page.
- How to temporarily hide the checkout page
Along the way, we’ll also explain which solution is best for different scenarios.
Three ways to temporarily disable your WooCommerce store
Before we jump into the tutorial, let’s take a step back and quickly learn about the two options for temporarily disabling your WooCommerce store.
Method #1: Use WooCommerce Private Store to temporarily disable WooCommerce
The first method involves using the WooCommerce Private Store plugin to temporarily disable or hide your WooCommerce store. It's perfect for anyone searching for how to turn off their WooCommerce store or deactivate the shop.
This is particularly useful for store owners who:
- Are sick or on leave. For example, around the holiday season, on maternity leave, or travelling.
- Need to temporarily close the store because they’ve run out of inventory or if products are on backorder.
- Are short on staff and can’t complete customer orders on time.
Simply put, this is the best method for anyone who’s looking for an easy way to turn off their WooCommerce store. Once you’ve installed the WooCommerce Private Store plugin to your WordPress website and followed the tutorial, it’ll hide your entire store from your public-facing website. It will disable the WooCommerce shop page and all your other store pages such as the products, categories, and so on.
If visitors try to access your online store either by going to it directly or searching for it on Google, they'll be redirected to a different page depending on how you configure the plugin's settings.
That said, you’ll still be able to access it (from the front-end and the back-end) by entering a password. You also have the option to unlock your hidden store for logged in users or roles. This is a great option for online store owners that would like to temporarily disable their store for regular customers but would like wholesale buyers to be able to make purchases.
Method #2: Use WooCommerce Protected Categories to hide specific categories and their products
The WooCommerce Protected Categories plugin lets you hide one (or more) categories within your online store. In other words, instead of disabling your entire WooCommerce store, you can simply disable specific categories and all the products within those categories.
This is a practical option for online store owners who:
- Are running out of stock on certain product categories but would like to be able to continue selling other products.
- Are restocking a particular category of products and need to temporarily disable those category pages from their public-facing website.
- Have decided to pause the production of a category of products.
- Wish to make certain product categories private and available only to select members/users.
With the WooCommerce Protected Categories plugin, you’re able to protect specific categories in three different ways:
- Setting a password.
- Making them available to certain user roles.
- Allowing specific users to access them.
This way, you can disable specific categories from your WooCommerce store while still making them available to certain users.
Method #3: Hide the checkout page by not allowing users to make a purchase
The other two methods focus on disabling the entire WooCommerce store or a complete category. Alternatively, you might want to disable checkout options or turn off ordering for specific products.
Disabling the WooCommerce checkout page is useful for store owners who:
- Have run out of stock or paused production of certain products but would like to be able to nudge customers to buy other products.
- Are facing a problem with a merchant or logistics and want to pause orders temporarily.
While you can disable checkout using code, it can easily get tricky and cause your site to break. Another way you could technically disable checkout for individual products is by using the External / Affiliate Product option available in default WooCommerce. This feature was built to enable store owners to showcase products on their site that customers will have to purchase on a different site. For instance, you can promote an Amazon product on your website but to purchase the product customers have to go to the Amazon product page.
While this feature can be modified to allow you to disable the checkout page, that’s not what it was created for. It could also easily break your product variations which would require troubleshooting.
The best way to temporarily disable checkout or turn off orders for a product is to
- Remove the price of the product, which in turn removes the add to cart button
- Mark the product out of stock
A better option: Display lead times and allow backorders
The problem with disabling ordering for specific products is that - by definition - no one can buy them! It’s better for business if you continue accepting orders for products that will come back in stock. The important thing is to clearly communicate with your customers so that they know there will be a wait.
You can easily achieve this by setting the stock status of the product to ‘On backorder’, and showcasing lead times. You won’t have to say no to sales!
How to temporarily disable your WooCommerce store using plugins
Depending on whether you activate WooCommerce Private Store or WooCommerce Protected Categories to your online store, some or all of your WooCommerce pages will immediately disappear from your public-facing website. Keep in mind that the rest of your WordPress website (your homepage, blog pages, galleries, etc.) will remain public.
In addition to this, your WooCommerce store will remain accessible to administrators and store managers from the WordPress admin area. They will also be able to access the store from the front-end as usual by entering the password or logging into a user account – depending on how you decide to set up the plugin.
The key benefit of using either WooCommerce Private Store or WooCommerce Protected Categories is that they simply hide all the links to your shop pages. This includes the main shop page, category pages, and single product pages. This way, you won’t have to edit any content on your site or mess around with menus and widgets. It’s the easiest way to temporarily deactivate WooCommerce.
Method #1: How to use WooCommerce Private Store to temporarily disable WooCommerce
Once you have WooCommerce Private Store set up, it will automatically hide all WooCommerce-created pages from your store. This includes the account page, shopping cart links, checkout pages, main shop page, and product pages.
Assuming you already have a WooCommerce store, here’s what you need to do to temporarily deactivate it:
- Get the WooCommerce Private Store plugin. Download the plugin files and copy the license key from the order confirmation page or the email receipt.
- Log in to your WordPress admin panel and head over to Plugins -> Add New.
- Click the Upload button and look for the plugin files you downloaded.
- Install and activate the WooCommerce Private Store plugin to your WordPress website.
- Navigate to WooCommerce -> Settings -> Private Store and paste your license key.
- From the same screen, you can configure other plugin settings, as well. For example, you can:
- Set a Store Password if you’d like to let administrators and store managers access it from the front end.
- Set a Login Redirect URL to redirect users to another page (such as your homepage) if they try to access a store page.
- Click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the screen to proceed.
That’s it! Your entire WooCommerce shop should be hidden.
To take things further, you can place your login form somewhere on your WordPress website. For example, on a dedicated login page or in a sidebar widget. All you have to do is paste the shortcode:
[store_login] on the page or sidebar. This will automatically generate a login form based on the settings you configured. This way, administrators and store managers can easily access the store from the front end while it's temporarily disabled.
It's an easy way to close your WooCommerce store until you're ready to start selling again. It basically lets you deactivate the shop page in WooCommerce.
Method #2: How to use WooCommerce Protected Categories to hide specific categories and their products
Once you’ve installed and activated the WooCommerce Protected Categories plugin, it’ll give you the option to hide specific categories from your WooCommerce store. It also hides all of the sub-categories and products that fall under those categories.
Here’s what you need to do to temporarily deactivate specific WooCommerce categories from your online store:
- Get the WooCommerce Protected Categories plugin. Copy the license key from the order confirmation page or the email receipt.
- Log in to your WordPress admin panel and head over to Plugins -> Add New.
- Click the Upload button and look for the plugin files on your computer.
- Install and activate the WooCommerce Protected Categories plugin to your WordPress website.
- Navigate to WooCommerce -> Settings -> Products -> Protected categories and paste your license key.
- Click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the screen to proceed.
- Go to Products -> Categories from the admin panel.
- From the Product categories screen, you can:
- Edit an existing category that you’d like to temporarily disable from your WooCommerce store. Alternatively, you can create a new category, as well.
- Scroll down to the Visibility section and select the Protected option or the Private option depending on your preferences.
- Click the Add new category button to proceed.
That’s all there is to it! The category (and all subcategories and products that fall under it) should be temporarily disabled.
You can repeat these steps to hide as many categories as you’d like.
Method #3: How to hide checkout page by turning off orders
To turn off orders and essentially disable checkout, you’ll need to remove the price of the product.
Default WooCommerce doesn’t give you the option to hide product prices. You could use code to hide the prices of specific products, categories, etc. However, that comes at the risk of breaking your site as it involves editing and adding code snippets to crucial website components like your child theme, functions.php file etc.
That’s why we recommend using a plugin. Our in-depth tutorial to hide WooCommerce product prices explores multiple ways to hide prices including:
- Hide prices from logged out users using WooCommerce Wholesale Pro
- Showcase product in table format (without prices) using WooCommerce Product Table
- Show a quick view of products without prices using WooCommerce Quick View
Once you’re hidden the price of your product, you can also mark it out of stock. For this you can follow these steps:
- Open the WordPress Admin Dashboard, and go to the product you want to mark out of stock.
- Navigate to the ‘Product data’ section and click on “Inventory”
- Here you can change the “Stock Status” to ‘Out of stock'.
- Make sure to click on ‘Update’ once done. The product is now marked out of stock!
Hiding the product price and marking it as “out of stock” is not the only way to deal with products that are out of stock. If you are in the middle of restocking products then showing lead time is a better idea as it’ll help you make a sale if customers decide to place a backorder.
Products out of stock? Don't disable your store - show lead times instead!
In the previous sections, we assumed that disabling your WooCommerce store is the best way forward. However, it's worth thinking about whether there are any alternatives to hiding it completely. This depends on why you want to disable WooCommerce.
Some people decide to temporarily close their online store due to stock availability. For example, if your products are out of stock or you have lead time issues, then you might want to take them offline until the products are ready to despatch again.
If this is your reason for disabling WooCommerce, then there's a better option. Taking your store offline can affect your SEO because your shop pages aren't consistently available to search engines. It can also lead to missed opportunities because potential customers can't find your products.
How to add product lead times
As an alternative, you can use the WooCommerce Lead Time plugin to show when the products will be ready for despatch.
This handy plugin lets you set a global lead time that will appear on all your product pages, or show lead times on specific products. This is much better than disabling ordering for out of stock products.
You can choose which stock statuses to show lead times for. For example, you could show lead times for 'Out of stock' or 'On backorder' products only, instead of taking them offline. This way, you can stop orders in WooCommerce temporarily.
You can also choose what text to display alongside your lead times (e.g. 'Waiting time', 'Available on 1st July', etc.). The plugin even has a dynamic lead time feature where you select the date when the product will be available, and the remaining waiting time is automatically displayed on the website.
If you're tempted to disable WooCommerce because of lead time issues, then it might be better to keep your store online and display the expected lead times instead. That way, customers (and search engines) can still see your store, while making an informed decision on whether to wait. This also enables you to accept backorders!
If you need to disable WooCommerce for any other reasons, then you're probably better off using the other methods discussed above.
Where to get the plugin
Traditionally, the only way to disable WooCommerce was to either deactivate the WooCommerce plugin from your WordPress website or mess around with your functions.php file. However, if you’re looking for an easy way to temporarily disable WooCommerce, we recommend using a plugin.
- If you want to hide your entire WooCommerce from your public-facing website, use the WooCommerce Private Store plugin.
- And if you only want to disable specific WooCommerce categories, go for the WooCommerce Protected Categories plugin.
It’s worth mentioning that both WooCommerce Private Store and WooCommerce Protected Categories are compatible so you can use both plugins together, as well. Both plugins allow you to configure WooCommerce to stop orders.
Do you have any questions on how to temporarily deactivate WooCommerce? We’re happy to help so let us know in the comments section below.