WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress. It is designed for small to large-sized online merchants using WordPress. Launched on September 27, 2011, the plugin quickly became popular for its simplicity to install and customize and free base product.
WooCommerce is a plugin that integrates easily with your existing WordPress site, turning your site into a fully functional WordPress e-commerce website with just a few clicks.
When the plugin was launched in 2011, it quickly became the primary solution for users looking to launch their stores online.
Automatic acquired the plugin and its parent company in 2015 – it was their biggest acquisition to that date, and it has continued to experience explosive growth in the years since.
It currently powers over 99% of WordPress e-commerce websites in the US, Canada, and the UK With over 27,000,000 downloads, and millions of active installations, it’s the driving force behind numerous e-commerce sites.
WooCommerce was first developed by WordPress theme developer WooThemes, who hired Mike Jolley and James Koster, developers at Jigowatt, to work on a fork of Jigoshop that became WooCommerce. In August 2014, WooCommerce powered 381,187 sites (or 17.77% of e-commerce sites online).
In November 2014, the first WooConf, a conference focusing on eCommerce using WooCommerce was held in San Francisco, California. It attracted 300 attendees.
In May 2015, WooThemes and WooCommerce were acquired by Automattic, operator of WordPress.com and core contributor to the WordPress software.
Why should you use WooCommerce?
So, now you know the answer to what is WooCommerce. Second question: Why should you use it? WooCommerce has been around since 2011 and has a strong development team behind it. Bolstered by this, and its ever-growing popularity, WooCommerce keeps getting better and better. And more and more popular.
Just like WordPress, WooCommerce is free and open-source. So despite its premium feel, it’s completely free for anyone to download, use and modify.
So here are few best parts of WooCommerce which will make you use it:
- Easy install and setup
- Powerful E-commerce features out of the box
- It is highly extensible
Why is WooCommerce so popular?
There are a bunch of reasons why WooCommerce is such a popular way to build an eCommerce store:
- WooCommerce is free, and the underlying WordPress software is also free.
- WooCommerce is open-source. Anyone can go in and audit, modify or extend the code.
- WooCommerce is a regular person friendly. You don’t need to be an expert developer to launch a store.
- WooCommerce is extensible. Using something called “plugins”, you can add all kinds of new functionality to your store without the need for any technical knowledge.
- WooCommerce works on all devices. More and more people shop on smartphones, and WooCommerce is ready to serve those people.
- WooCommerce looks how you want it to. Using something called “themes”, you can control exactly how your store looks without the need for any technical knowledge.
- WooCommerce is secure. Beyond being open-source, WooCommerce comes from automatic, a billion-dollar company with the resources to secure your store.
Top WooCommerce Competitors
WooCommerce has a plentiful supply of competitors that can range from free, open-source software to large enterprise-level solutions. The most popular and closely related shopping cart packages such as:
- Magento: Non-WordPress
- Shopify: Non-WordPress
- iThemes Exchange: Free WordPress plugin
- WP e-Commerce: Free WordPress plugin
- Ecwid: Non-WordPress
WooCommerce’s Pros and Cons
Just like any piece of software, WooCommerce has a variety of plus and minus when working with it. These vary by individual, but they should be considered before selecting WooCommerce as your eCommerce solution.
- The core WooCommerce software is open source and free.
- The plugin is fairly easy to install into WordPress.
- There are lots of WordPress themes available for building out the storefront. These can come from WooThemes directly or from hundreds of independent theme developers.
- There are over 300 extensions available for making the base functionality more robust.
- WooCommerce has over 1,200 5 star ratings and reviews on WordPress.org.
- The software is frequently updated for new features and functions.
- There are lots of WordPress developers available to assist.
- Virtually every storefront will require an extension and these plugins cost money and require an annual license purchase.
- People new to eCommerce completely underestimate the time involved in setting up an online store. There are a lot of usage considerations, settings, and functionality decisions required for managing customers, orders, inventory, sales tax, and shipping.
- Not all WooCommerce themes are coded well and/or are robust. This is the nature of WordPress and theme buyers need to make sure they purchase templates from trustworthy theme developers.
- Software updates can be major endeavors that can sometimes require a developer to assist in execution, testing, and troubleshooting.
- The support forum on WordPress.org is not well maintained. There are over 1,000 support tickets entered in the last month that have not been responded to by the Automatic support team.
- Not all developers who say they know WooCommerce are of high quality.
We hope this course has inspired you to spend some time exploring WooCommerce on your own. WooCommerce is a really powerful platform for creating online stores, and with a little work, it can help make your store a successful one.