The history of WooCommerce began when three WordPress enthusiasts and programmers from different countries exchanged their own ideas via email. The company was officially founded in 2008 and today consists of an international team of 50 people from 19 countries – from developers and designers to marketing professionals and support ninjas who are passionate about expanding the community of hundreds of thousands of users. The WooCommerce platform was launched in September 2011. At that time, it was not yet clear to the creators that the shop system would eventually become the company’s most important product. With WooCommerce 2.0 the second version of the software followed in March 2013. Today the company is writing a success story. The beginning was very modest: A handful of commercial WordPress themes were offered, but now there is a whole range of plug-ins and themes for expansion, including the shop system WooCommerce.
Over 1 million websites use WooCommerce
WooCommerce is known as a free plugin for WordPress. Thanks to WooCommerce, the content management system (CMS) is supplemented with the functionality of an online shop. It is one of the most popular plugins for WordPress. This is proven by more than 15 million downloads. According to BuiltWith statistics, WooCommerce has a share of approx. 37% among e-commerce systems and is now used on approx. 1.05 million websites. Originally WooCommerce originated from a plugin called Jigoshop. This plugin already stood for a seamless embedding of the e-commerce function into the WordPress framework. The intended Custom Taxonomies and Custom Post Types of WordPress are used for all content types. In most cases, the data is stored via the meta data integrated in WordPress.
Free shop software for self-makers
Today WooCommerce can be described as a shop software for self makers. The free software is particularly suitable for the foundation of medium-sized and small shop projects. In recent years, the name WooCommerce has been repeatedly mentioned as a big winner, which is why more and more people download and use this open source system. The WordPress plugin supports more than 30% of all online shops. It is obvious why WooCommerce is so popular: This free plugin is very easy to set up and insert into any WordPress installation. This means that the professional support of an agency is not absolutely necessary for the basic setup. Basic knowledge with the use of WordPress is completely sufficient.
What functions does WooCommerce offer?
One often hears the saying “What costs nothing is nothing”. The shop system WooCommerce has, however, shown emphatically that this old saying does not always have to be true, because the software offers a variety of functions that are also known from professional shop systems.
On the WhoThemes side, a large number of modules are referred to as extensions. Some of these modules are offered free of charge, but as an example one can mention the integration of different payment methods. These costs often range from $49 to several hundred dollars. In addition, further functionalities can be added thanks to a huge selection of third-party modules. Also here there are liable to pay the costs and free offers.
In test 2016 WooCommerce did not support a multilingual shop. But if you don’t have a problem using additional extensions and plugins, you can tackle this challenge and master this task.
WooCommerce is of the basic scope of functions rather shchcht with interfaces equipped, which would be relevant for Germany. The reason for this is the actual focus of the shop system on the English-speaking market. This shortcoming can be quickly remedied by the large selection of plugins and extensions and many merchandise management solutions, payment providers and common interfaces to marketplaces can be realized.
- Legal certainty
One of the big WooCommerce shortcomings is the issue of legal certainty. Originally, the shop system was not designed for the German market and therefore numerous legal requirements are not correctly implemented. In Germany, this leads to repeated warnings under competition law. A shop operator must therefore resort to additional plug-ins if he wants to use WooCommerce in Germany, because he can only adapt the shop system to the German market with these plug-ins. Such solutions are unfortunately not available free of charge, for example WooCommerce Germanized costs between 69.95 € and 99.95 € or the WooCommerce German Market between 99 € and 125 €.
Great flexibility thanks to numerous expansion options
All in all, the basic functionality can be compared well with other shop systems. No matter if different shipping methods, search engine optimization or mobile friendly view – WooCommerce contains all the most important options. In principle, any shop operator can fall back on WooCommerce. It does not matter whether 5 or 25,000 items are sold. The system grows with the requirements of the company and is also scalable. The extensive expansion options guarantee the shop system an extremely high degree of flexibility. When entrepreneurs start with a huge product range and want to start directly with WooCommerce, they are definitely well served with this shop system, as it is also suitable for complex tasks. As a user, you should be aware that the use of extensions also has its limits. If too many extensions are used, the user experience as well as the speed of the shop can suffer. In the worst case, conflicts can arise. This happens especially with combinations of different third-party plugins.
WooCommerce is an easily adjustable shop system
With WooCommerce you can confidently forget about a version comparison, because there is only one basic version with all important functions. Nevertheless, every shop operator can put together his own individual and individual range of options with the available plug-ins and extensions. At first glance, this may look like additional work, but it is ideal for small businesses with little need for functions. Often already the free basis version is completely sufficient for the small businessmen. Then you do not have to pay for unnecessary functions, which they do not need at all. In addition, a demo version is not necessary with WooCommerce, as this plugin is available free of charge anyway. For a personal test WooCommerce can either be downloaded from WordPress.org or Woothemes or installed directly via the WordPress plugin folder. Every shop operator can install, set up and finally use WooCommerce completely free of charge. You only have to be familiar with WordPress. But there is also a big one, because you often quickly reach your limits if you don’t have any programming knowledge yourself. This happens when further functions are needed, an existing theme has to be adapted to WooCommerce or there are difficulties when running several plugins side by side. Nevertheless, WooCommerce is basically ideal for beginners, as well as medium and small founders. The shop system has been specifically designed in such a way that the average entrepreneur can manage without the involvement of an agency.
Individual and custom designs from WooCommerce
A relatively small but fine selection of perfectly adapted templates can be found at Woothemes. On the net you will also find numerous third-party designs. In most cases these designs are programmed directly responsively. In addition, WooCommerce is basically executable under all WordPress themes, whereby changes to the source code may be necessary depending on the basis and under certain circumstances. Either the shop operator contacts an appropriate agency for this or the HTML, CSS and PHP knowledge appear to be very useful as a solution. Overall, WooCommerce has more to offer than any other platform, because with WooCommerce you can sell both physical and digital goods in various variations, as well as instant downloads or affiliate products. You can remove or add extensions as often as you like, change the settings and change the design at any time.
Advantages and disadvantages of WooCommerce
One says so beautifully: “Where there is light, there is also shadow” – WooCommerce also has its advantages as well as disadvantages.
- Extensions and plugins enable flexible expandability
- The core software contains a wide range of functions
- Free use
- Easy installation
- No commission payments or running costs
- Can also be done without an agency
- The basic setting of the shop is relatively simple even for beginners
- The continuous further development of the system is aimed at
- Wide choice of responsive themes
- The technical requirements are low
- There is no limit to the number of products
- Excellent possibilities for individualization
- WooCommerce is a very good basis for search engine optimization
- There is a large selection of agencies for the individualisation of shops
- Reliable support
- The active community supports each other
- A fundamentally good performance
- Adaptation to legal requirements in Germany is inadequate
- High additional costs for required plug-ins are available as required
- Only a CMS extension and therefore no independent shop system
- WooCommerce cannot be operated without WordPress
- The more extensions used, the poorer the performance
- You have to get used to the management of article attributes first
- The language conversion to German must be done manually via the language file installation
Conclusion: Favourite solution in the e-commerce industry
WooCommerce has become the world’s favorite solution in the e-commerce industry due to its development, which enables flawless integration with WordPress and gives shop owners and developers complete freedom. With Premium Extensions you can offer recurring subscriptions, bookings and memberships. For example, you can sell material goods via monthly subscriptions or offer your members a discount on digital downloads as they wish. Of course, WooCommerce makes all this possible. In addition, you can calculate shipping costs in real time and offer free shipping depending on the amount of your order. The shipping can be restricted to certain countries or sent worldwide, where the shipping is extensively configurable and even Dropshipping is supported. All common payment methods such as credit cards, bank transfer, PayPal or prepayment are supported. Today there are more than 140 gateways and interfaces that can be easily integrated. With WooCommerce, you have complete control and you don’t have to worry that the provider of a hosted e-commerce platform will close individual shops.