WooCommerce is one of the most popular e-commerce solutions out there. It’s the standard e-commerce plugin for WordPress websites, powering over 5 million websites (according to BuiltWith Technology Lookup). Most WooCommerce users are small businesses with less than a million dollars worth of annual sales. This has led to a common misconception in the e-commerce industry that WooCommerce is most suitable for small online stores and not large ones, but it isn’t true. This misconception has emanated across several years, but maybe 2022 is the year it should stop.
While most WooCommerce users are small businesses, it can be scaled to serve large-scale online retail operations if need be. In this post, we’ll make a case for WooCommerce being an ideal solution for large-scale online stores and how such big stores can make the best of it to run their operations.
Is WooCommerce Scalable?
Scalability is the main criteria for any e-commerce solution that’ll serve a large business, and WooCommerce delivers well on that criteria. What discourages large companies from adopting WooCommerce is a common belief that it can’t scale, but that isn’t true. WooCommerce powers many online stores having thousands of products and handling thousands of transactions per minute.
If you want to scale your WoCommerce store successfully, there are certain things you must pay attention to. They include;
1. Server Hardware/Cloud Hosting
Choosing the right web hosting provider is very important if you want a store that can handle many transactions without failing. Your hosting provider is the primary factor determining the scalability of your website, so choose wisely.
For a large-scale e-commerce business, we advise you to pick a hosting package that includes;
- Dedicated or shared servers with sufficient bandwidth
- Ability to handle traffic spikes with ease
- CDN and caching tools
- A broad range of hosting plans so that you can move up as you scale
- 99.99% uptime guarantee
When picking a hosting provider, you must also consider the customer support and maintenance options. You can run into difficulties anytime with your WooCommerce store, and you want help if you do. The best hosting services provide ongoing support for large customers with dedicated or shared representatives. As a large e-commerce company, you can’t afford downtimes at any cost.
2. Web Traffic
The amount of web traffic to your WooCommerce store can make it or break it. Ensure that the incoming traffic to your website is well distributed so that significant upticks don’t bring down your site. A content delivery network (CDN) will help distribute your traffic and ensure fast load times for your website’s visitors.
Content delivery network refers to a group of geographically distributed proxy servers distributing your site’s resources to end-users. Instead of having a single server hosting your website, they can be distributed to different servers across the globe so that a user in whichever region accesses the one closest to them. This way, your website will load faster and be easier to use. People have limited attention spans, and slowing them down is the fastest way to lose customers. You should make use of a CDN to avoid slow load times.
Popular CDN services include Amazon CloudFront, Cloudflare, and Google Cloud CDN.
Most large-scale WooCommerce stores require specific plugins that give extra features. Ensure to pick the plugins with features your customers want, e.g., “buy now, pay later” plugin, shipment tracking plugin, local currency plugin, e.t.c. Also, ensure to pick plugins with well-optimized code because those whose codes aren’t well optimized can slow down your site.
Some typical plugins to improve a WooCommerce store’s functionality include:
WooCommerce PDF Invoices & Packing Slips
This plugin lets you attach PDF invoices to certain emails and create and print professional packing slips. The standalone WooCommerce doesn’t provide this much-needed functionality for online retail operations, but the plugin fills those shoes.
This plugin helps translate your store into different languages. It’s beneficial to large vendors whose customers are scattered across the globe.
Big vendors often need customer support services to entice and retain buyers. This plugin lets you offer live chat support to your customers. You can add a highly customizable live chatbox to your online store and assist customers with any problems they may have.
Direct Checkout for WooCommerce
This plugin lets you override the standard WooCommerce checkout page and replace it with a custom one that’s often faster. Direct checkout correlates with higher conversion rates on online stores.
Large businesses are common targets of hacking operations, so you must pay close attention to cyber security endeavors to build a large-scale WooCommerce store. Foremostly, ensure you pick a web hosting partner with adequate security measures and a little or no track record of security mishaps. Afterward, ensure that you and your employees adopt appropriate security practices, e.g., two-factor authentication, up-to-date SSL certificates, avoiding public WiFi networks when dealing with sensitive customer data.
How WooCommerce Scales
WooCommerce has several features that make it an e-commerce solution built to scale. These features include;
Flat rate pricing
The cost of using WooCommerce is a flat subscription fee, unlike some rivals that charge a percentage of each sale you make. Hence, your WooCommerce costs are the same whether you sell just one item or thousands of items.
Unlimited products and variations
WooCommerce doesn’t limit the number of products or product variations you can sell. You can have as little as 10 to as high as 100,000+ products listed on your store if you can handle the fulfillment. This feature makes it suitable for scaling from a small online store to a large one.
Extensive developer network
There are thousands of developers building additional features for WooCommerce as plugins. Virtually any e-commerce feature you can think of is available on the WooCommerce plugin marketplace, and these features help vendors scale their stores to higher heights.
Sometimes, you may not find an extension that fits your needs. In that case, don’t give up, you could enlist the help of certified developers or agencies that specialize in WooCommerce Custom Development.
You can pick any host you like
Hosting is the primary factor in scalability, and there are many hosting providers that support WordPress, the platform where you can install WooCommerce. You can select the best hosting provider based on factors including location, traffic volume, security, uptime, and so on.
An example of a good web hosting provider specifically tailored for e-commerce is WP Autopilot, which offers care plans with dedicated VPS hosting, including automated backups, plugin updates, security checks, and performance recommendations.
Code optimized for scalability.
WooCommerce’s code is optimized for scalability. The core development team behind the open-source plugin constantly works to deliver updates and optimize its code base to catch up to the latest demands of performance, design, and security. Updates are issued regularly and are free of charge, so stores always have access to the latest updates once they’re deployed.
Tracking Your WooCommerce Performance
There are specific metrics to determine your WooCommerce store’s performance as you scale. These metrics are usually called key performance indicators (KPIs), and they include;
Add to Cart Rate
The add-to-cart rate is the percentage of your visitors that place at least one item in their cart during their session. This metric tells you a lot about the success of your product selection, marketing efforts, and overall site usability. A good add-to-cart rate usually hovers at around 10% or more.
Shopping cart abandonment rate
The fact that a visitor adds an item to their cart doesn’t mean they’ll proceed to buy the item. Your shopping cart abandonment rate is measured by dividing the total number of completed transactions by the total number of transactions that your visitors initiated. The average shopping cart abandonment rate for e-commerce stores hovers around 70%, so you should work to keep it around or below that level.
Checkout abandonment rate
Your checkout abandonment rate is the percentage of customers who don’t purchase after initiating the checkout process. A high checkout abandonment rate signals something wrong with your store’s checkout experience.
Average order value
This is the average amount of money spent each time a customer places an order in your store. As you scale, this metric should trend upwards.
Sales Conversion rate
Sales conversion rate is the rate at which you convert visitors to your store into customers. A reasonable sales conversion rate for an online store hovers around 2-5%. Anything below 2% hints at problems with your marketing efforts and site usability.
Many people assume that WooCommerce isn’t an ideal solution for a large-scale store, but it actually is if you play your cards well. WooCommerce has many built-in and external features that help people run large online stores with ease. You must pay close attention to certain things to run a successful large-scale WooCommerce store, such as web hosting, security, and traffic distribution.
There are also specific metrics to monitor closely to judge the success of your WooCommerce store. By taking note of the scalability factors and performance metrics mentioned in this article, you’ll likely succeed in scaling your WooCommerce store to higher heights, in 2022 and beyond.