If you’re an entrepreneur who’s on your way to building an e-commerce platform then we can’t emphasize enough how vital WordPress and WooCommerce (Woo) are for you! In the case of WordPress, we already know that currently, it powers 39% of the web. Yes, that’s almost half of the web. And one of the reasons why WordPress is doing so well is because of eCommerce made possible by the WooCommerce plugin. It is the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress. Currently, as of January 2021, it has over a 5+million active installations. Today, we are going to learn all things about its past, present, and future.
How did it all begin?
WooCommerce, an open-source, fully customizable platform, has helped sellers sell various products -whether physical, digital, or even appointment-based services. It is built on WordPress by more than 350 contributors from all around the globe. It first started out as WooThemes in 2008 by co-founders Mark Forrester, Magnus Jepson, and Adii Pienaar. Finally, on 27th September 2011, the first plugin WooCommerce was released!
From here, it took only two years to reach the 1 million downloads mark. Another year in and by August 2014, it had been downloaded 4 million times. November of the same year also saw the release of the first Woo theme Storefront -one of the best basic themes.
2015 was another year of achievements because that’s when Woo hit the 7 million downloads mark. It was also the year when it was acquired by Automattic– the team behind WordPress.
Woo has gone through immense development over the years. Releases ranging from its very first version to its current 4.8 version– all of them have changed the face of online stores. Today, it has successfully incorporated content with commerce. And it’s open-source nature allows users to make changes to any and everything. The result is a fully customized e-commerce site that is ready to take your business to new heights. Let’s have a look at some of the Woo releases that created a buzz for the community.
Here are a few highlights from its releases
- WooCommerce 1.6 added a new core payment gateway called Mijireh checkout. Besides the PayPal standard, this checkout gave store owners a core PCI compliant credit card gateway.
- WooCommerce 2.0 brought about plenty of breaking changes, which required a lot of compatibility for plugin authors. Some structural changes such as the layout changes or even the Order Screen improvements were part of this version.
- When updating to WordPress 3.8, a complete admin layout change took place. And updating to WooCommerce 2.1 was only possible if you had WordPress 3.8. That’s why users had to completely re-work their default settings and remove settings that were infrequently used. v1 REST API was also added to WooCommerce despite it being mostly read-only.
- In WooCommerce 2.2, we saw that Mijireh was replaced with the Simplify Commerce core gateway. This new gateway supported Subscriptions and automatic refunds.
- As for WooCommerce 2.6, it came with a lot of flexibility for store owners. This flexibility was possible with the introduction of shipping zones.
- Users also saw the introduction of CRUD classes- a way to modify orders, products, customers, line items, shipping zones, payment tokens, and coupons with less code across a unified system in WooCommerce 3.0.
What makes WooCommerce so great?
Here are some important stats and facts about Woo that’s a testimony to its greatness-
- Woo currently supports 65 languages.
- It is also used by some of the biggest brands and agencies in the world. Some of them include goodDYEyoung, BlueStar, Unicef, and Björk.
- Themeforest alone has over 1,200 WooCommerce themes and templates for your store to choose from. Whereas the WordPress.org theme directory has 1120 themes as of January 2021.
- As for plugins, on the WordPress.org plugin directory, you will find over 980 plugins when you search for ‘WooCommerce’!
- On WooCommerce.com, you will find 520 plugin extensions alone. These are just the official numbers, and there are a lot more Woo plugins that are being sold independently. For example, you won’t find the Pro versions of our most popular plugins, such as Order Delivery Date Pro for WooCommerce or Abandoned Cart Pro for WooCommerce plugin on the official pages.
- Woo even showed a growth of 74% compared to 2019 when it projected to reach a total payment volume of 20.6 billion in 2020. And this is just a part of WooCommerce’s gross merchandise volume.
- Since opening up the WooCommerce Marketplace in 2019, their inventory has increased over 200 extensions bringing it across the 500 thresholds in October 2020.
- In the State of Woo, we even found out that WooCommerce has seen a 32% increase in their subscribers and 39% growth in market sales.
Some WooCommerce Usage Stats
- WooCommerce is the platform of choice for about 1 in every 4 e-commerce businesses.
- In W3Techs aka World Wide Web Technology survey, as of 4th January 2021, the percentage of websites using WooCommerce as a content management system is 7.4%
- They have also found that WooCommerce is used by more sites than Shopify, Magento, OpenCart, and PrestaShop combined.
- It was found that 93.72% of all WordPress e-commerce websites use WooCommerce instead of another plugin.
- According to Barn2 Plugins, when online stores were asked what they used, the highest percentage, i.e, 26% answered WooCommerce as their response.
- According to Datanyze, in comparison to top technologies like Shopify, Wixstores, Magento, Amazon, etc, WooCommerce occupies the highest market share of 29.38%. This is because it supports 628,765 domains.
What does the future look like for WooCommerce?
We had a glimpse of how Woo would progress in the annual State of the Woo 2020 talk. It took place during the WooSesh 2020 on the 13th and 14th October 2020. Here’s a quick view of what Woo has been up to lately and what it has in store for us in the future-
1. WooCommerce Developer Resources
WooCommerce Developer Resources portal was officially launched in 2020 to help developers find everything related to WooCommerce in a centralized location. Developers can look forward to Phase Two of WooCommerce’s plan, i.e, creating authoritative guidance for educating and enabling developers to build within recommended extensibility areas, adhere to best development practices for the platform, and lastly, provide a first-class experience for merchants.
2. Homescreen 2.0
The State of the Woo talk showcased a prototype of Homescreen 2.0. You will find that this version will come with features such as a better experience for mobile users, flexible screen interface where users will be able to switch for two columns under the layout option. You can find this feature in the newly released WooCommerce 4.8. The home screen would even have extensions plugged in. Once the extension is installed, you will be able to trigger a setup task.
Settings for Single and Two Columns layout
3. Future of Cart and Checkout
Those familiar with WordPress’s Blocks have highly appreciated the release of WooCommerce Blocks. These Gutenberg based Cart and Checkout blocks have made the checkout process quite easier. With real-time changes such as being able to increase/decrease the quantity of a product, removing items directly, adding/deleting coupons– all of this is now possible on the checkout page now.
Frontend view of the above-mentioned changes
Users will also find that errors while filling in the email or even credit/debit card information on the Checkout page will be displayed in red.
The page now also has the ability to adapt to any theme. CSS can help you further customize it.
In the future, they are planning on providing extension integrations for the WooCommerce blocks. Some of these include WooCommerce Payments, Subscriptions, eWay, Google Analytics, and many more.
4. WooCommerce Payments
The plans for 2021 include making WooCommerce Payments a native payment method for a global commerce platform as well as heavily investing in unlocking more features in more countries. Even new features like ‘Instant Deposits’ are on the priority list.
5. WooCommerce Marketplace
As for 2021, the WooCommerce Marketplace team will be focusing on specific categories that would offer more options to the merchants. You will find various categories such as integrating more third-party Themes, focusing on localization and translation, import/export, accounting, etc.
Another focus for Marketplace is the Vendor Program where they plan on bringing about changes to Vendor Pages, Vendor Dashboard, and Merchant Feedback Portal.
a. Vendor Pages
For Vendor pages, some of the functionalities that you will find are- insights into vendor support ratings, being able to display blog content and vendor updates for your customers, including a feedback portal and special badges to highlight achieving a benchmark.
b. Vendor Dashboard
Vendor Dashboard, on the other hand, will include features such as a new onboarding wizard, the highly requested Google Analytics feature to give insights about your product page’s performance, and Feedback from merchants directly to the vendor within the Dashboard.
c. Merchant Feedback Portal
WooCommerce Marketplace will introduce the Merchant Feedback Portal that would be located within the Vendor Dashboard. A way to better connect merchants with vendors, this portal will allow vendors to review, respond, and update the status on feedback/feature requests they receive. The future goals for Merchant Feedback Portal would be for users to subscribe or make requests, follow vendor updates, and even vote on a request. As for vendors, they’ll be able to send messages to their followers.
To Sum Up
If you still aren’t using WooCommerce then now’s the time to take the reins for your e-commerce business. We can’t even begin to describe the magic that awaits you once you’ve switched to this plugin.
On a parting note, despite there being many challenges in 2020, it was an excellent year for WooCommerce. Builtwith.com’s data testifies to this achievement because currently, over 4 million websites are running WooCommerce. With 2021 goals set already, WooCommerce will slowly fulfill them in no time. Here’s to more exciting development from it in 2021!