When I first started working with Woocommerce for personal and agency client sites, I was impressed with how quickly the team could iterate on it.
But, the main thing I noticed about Woocommerce was how easy it was to add additional features on top of the original codebase. This allows us to quickly adapt to changing demands and meet deadlines. It also allowed me to have the confidence in making decisions on the future growth and direction of the website.
Woocommerce is a free and open-source eCommerce platform that provides merchants with the tools to create professional, powerful, and mobile-friendly online storefronts. It offers an easy drag-and-drop interface for users to design and build a store, and integrates well with popular WordPress themes and plugins.
It is simple, flexible and powerful. It’s been designed with simplicity in mind, with minimal user training. And with the ability to create and manage complex websites that integrate with virtually any other third party systems or applications.
If it's not obvious, I'm a bit fan. But just how useful is it and how much can it handle?
The Problem with WordPress as an E-Commerce Platform
Ecommerce is a massive market, with no signs of slowing down. According to Statista, global online retail sales exceeded $3.1 trillion dollars in 2017. With Amazon leading the way in ecommerce, other players like Alibaba and eBay continue to add to the growth and the competition is fierce.
WordPress, the most popular content management system on the web, is often used for ecommerce sites. But there are many things that limit its scalability in this market.
The problem with WordPress as an E-Commerce platform is that it doesn't scale well. To do that, you need to separate the front end, which is the admin area, from the back end, which is everything that allows you to sell your products.
At the most basic level, this means having different sites for each type of content. So, you have a blog site, where you can talk about your product.
You then have a store site, which is for actual sales and shipping, where you can set up the various shipping and payment options. Finally, you have a storefront site, which is where people visit to actually shop.
These different sites aren’t really that difficult to manage and maintain, but having separate websites, especially for e-commerce, can be an extra step that slows you down, and can mean that you miss out on potential sales.
With technology evolving so quickly, it's not always necessary to do this. With a beefy enough server, you can power through everything - but that comes with a cost.
Why the Scalability of WooCommerce is So Important
I'm a big fan of the WordPress CMS. It's free, open-source, and easy to customize.
There are literally thousands of plugins and themes that can be used to add custom functionality to a WordPress website. But when it comes to ecommerce plugins, there are really only two that are popular: WooCommerce and Shopify (not Wordpress).
WooCommerce is a popular ecommerce platform, but it doesn't offer everything that Shopify does. And Shopify is a powerful, robust platform that offers a lot of features and functionality that are missing from WooCommerce.
Being one of the most popular e-commerce systems in the world means that the software needs to handle everything you can throw at it. While that is highly dependent on the server that is hosting it, Woocommerce itself is still built on a system that isn't the best optimized.
If your site goes down because there's too much traffic - well, that's lost sales.
The Scalability of WooCommerce vs. Magento and Shopify
There are many options for e-commerce software on the web. I have my favorites and I'm going to go over them here.
Woocommerce is best if you want something free and fully featured. If you're not a techy type person, you may need some help but it's really not that hard to get it going.
The problem with Woocommerce is that it's really not meant for large, enterprise-level stores. It's just made or optimized for that.
Like Woocommerce, Magento is software that you can install and manage yourself.
The main difference is that Magento was built with scalable ecommerce in mind.
And with Shopify, it's an amazing platform that's built completely with speed, scalability, and features in mind.