How to Temporarily Disable Your WooCommerce Store

By Updated: September 24, 2019

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.

WooCommerce Private Store to disable WooCommerce demo

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.

Along the way, we’ll also explain which solution is best for different scenarios.

Two 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.

WooCommerce Private Store
Temporarily disable WooCommerce online store while you're on holiday, restocking inventory, or travelling!

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 disable their entire 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. 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.

WooCommerce Private Store demo store login page

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 only. 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.

WooCommerce Protected Categories
The easy way to temporarily disable specific WooCommerce 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.

WooCommerce Protected Categories to disable WooCommerce demo

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.

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:

WooCommerce Private Store

  1. Get the WooCommerce Private Store plugin. Download the plugin files and copy the license key from the order confirmation page or the email receipt.
  2. Log in to your WordPress admin panel and head over to Plugins -> Add New.
  3. Click the Upload button and look for the plugin files you downloaded.
  4. Install and activate the WooCommerce Private Store plugin to your WordPress website.
  5. Navigate to WooCommerce -> Settings -> Private Store and paste your license key.
  6. From the same screen, you can configure other plugin settings, as well. For example, you can:
    1. Set a Store Password if you’d like to let administrators and store managers access is from the front-end.
    2. Set a Login Redirect URL to redirect users to another page (such as your homepage) if they try to access a store page.
  7. 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.

WooCommerce Private Store to disable WooCommerce demo

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:

WooCommerce Protected Categories

  1. Get the WooCommerce Protected Categories plugin. Copy the license key from the order confirmation page or the email receipt.
  2. Log in to your WordPress admin panel and head over to Plugins -> Add New.
  3. Click the Upload button and look for the plugin files on your computer.
  4. Install and activate the WooCommerce Protected Categories plugin to your WordPress website.
  5. Navigate to WooCommerce -> Settings -> Products -> Protected categories and paste your license key.
  6. Click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the screen to proceed.
  7. Go to Products -> Categories from the admin panel.
  8. From the Product categories screen, you can:
    1. Edit an existing category that you’d like to temporarily disable from your WooCommerce store. Alternatively, you can create a new category, as well.
    2. Scroll down to the Visibility section and select the Protected option or the Private option depending on your preferences.
  9. Click the Add new category button to proceed.

That’s all there is to it! The category (and all sub-categories and products that fall under it) should be temporarily disabled.

WooCommerce Protected Categories to disable WooCommerce demo

You can repeat these steps to hide as many categories as you’d like.

Products out of stock? Don’t disable your store – show lead times instead!

Show expected availability date out of stock product WooCommerce

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 product 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 which will appear on all your product pages, or show lead times on specific 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.

You can also choose what text to display alongside your lead times (e.g. ‘Waiting time’, ‘Available on 1st July’, etc.).

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.

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.

More specifically:

It’s worth mentioning that both WooCommerce Private Store and WooCommerce Protected Categories are compatible so you can use both plugins together, as well.

WooCommerce Private Store
Temporarily disable WooCommerce online store while you're on holiday, restocking inventory, or travelling!

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.

Maria Ansari

From C++ to PHP, the language Maria thinks in is code, and translates it to English for humans to understand. She has a degree in Computer Science and is the writer of choice for many organizations. She is also The Big Boss at BloggInc., calling all the shots and personally supervising every word and piece of content.

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