WooCommerce is a free, open-source plugin built specifically for WordPress. It powers more than 30% of all online stores in the world, and it boasts an impressive 63,503,629 downloads and counting.
Suffice to say, WooCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms available for online business owners.
That said, many mid-to-large size agencies feel that a free eCommerce solution like WooCommerce doesn’t have the power they need for their clients.
That’s why today we’re going to take a look at what WooCommerce offers business owners and whether it has the power to scale your clients’ growing businesses.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a free eCommerce plugin that lets you sell both physical and digital products, memberships, and affiliate products. It integrates seamlessly with WordPress, comes with endless flexibility, and has tons of free and premium extensions to help with the design and functionality of your online shop.
To use WooCommerce, all you have to do is install and activate the free plugin to your WordPress site.
Out of the box, WooCommerce easily handles eCommerce functionality such as:
- Inventory management
- Tax calculations
- Shipping costs
- Payment options
With premium extensions, you can also offer bookings, memberships, and recurring subscriptions for physical or digital goods and services.
And in case you’re using the Gutenberg editor, know that WooCommerce has a WooCommerce Products Block that you can install during the setup process.
Is WooCommerce Scalable?
It’s great that WooCommerce offers online business owners an easy way to get an online shop up and running.
But can it scale to be the size you want it to be without negatively affecting the user experience?
The short answer is yes, WooCommerce has the ability to hold an unlimited amount of products and process plenty of online transactions without your site crashing.
That means your clients have the potential to launch huge online stores using WooCommerce without too many worries.
However, there’s a lot more to scaling a business, maintaining optimal speed and performance, and keeping a website secure than using a single WordPress plugin.
What is a Large-Scale WooCommerce Store?
Before we jump into whether WooCommerce is a good solution for your agency and the clients you work with, let’s determine what it means to be a large-scale WooCommerce store.
Large-scale WooCommerce stores are those that host thousands of products or process thousands of orders. Just remember, these numbers are not directly proportional.
For example, one store might have 10,000 products and only a few hundred orders a month. And another store might have 100 products and 20,000 orders a month.
The point is, the be considered a large-scale WooCommerce store, your client has to be hosting or processing an enormous amount of products or orders.
What Does it Take to Scale a WooCommerce Site?
When you run a mid-to-large size agency and develop online stores for clients, you’ll want to invest in the best solutions possible while still generating your own company a profit.
That’s why WooCommerce is so appealing.
But worrying about whether the solution you choose can handle your clients’ needs is very real when you have a reputation to uphold.
So, let’s see what is needed to scale WooCommerce and whether that’s acceptable for your agency or not.
To start, here are the factors that most directly affect your ability to scale a large WooCommerce shop:
Site Traffic: it’s important your client’s site traffic is evenly distributed. If all the traffic is concentrated on a handful of webpages, the site may slow down or worse, crash.
Software Code: you should only use themes and plugins with optimized code that doesn’t slow a site’s speed or performance.
Hosting: choosing the right web host can have a significant impact on whether a WooCommerce store can scale or not. It’s crucial the server hardware hosting your client’s online store be able to handle a large amount of daily traffic, have enough available resources, and be able to automatically scale as the business grows.
Now let’s take a look at the most important areas on a WooCommerce site that need to be able to scale for your client’s growing store to be successful.
You might think that once someone completes a purchase, they immediately log out of their account and leave the online store. But this isn’t always the case.
Sometimes people make a purchase online and then continue to browse the website.
This post-store browsing racks up database queries since the customer hasn’t left the website and the pages they’ve visited haven’t been cached. This drains the site’s resources and slows it down.
The simplest way to fix this is to make sure that once people complete an order, they are automatically logged off. This way if they choose to continue browsing, they are doing so with a cached version of the site.
Never Skip Caching
We’ve discussed the concept of caching dynamic online stores many times in the past. However, it’s such an important part of the scaling process, it needs to be addressed again.
A lot of eCommerce shop owners (or the developers creating them) skip caching all together to avoid accidentally displaying the personal information of one customer to another customer as a cached page. However, this strategy leaves the WooCommerce shop with no cached pages and slow loading times, which can affect the user experience.
If you want to cache your client’s WooCommerce stores without straining their resources, slowing their site down, or making it difficult for them to scale, try these tricks:
- Cache static pages like the product category and catalog pages
- Enable the cache on past browsing history for those abandoning your site that return
- Use WordPress to create pages instead of WooCommerce and eliminate those queries
- Evaluate your menu items and see which ones you can cache
Over time, the wp_postmeta table can become huge and start to negatively affect your client’s site performance. This is especially true if the online shop is processing tons of orders every day.
It’s important you set up all websites your agency develops so the database doesn’t become cluttered and full of useless data dragging the site down and using up precious resources.
One easy to use WordPress plugin, that’s also free to use, is WP-Optimize.
It removes all unnecessary data from the database so your client’s site runs well at all times.
Of course, as an experienced agency that maintains client websites, you could always access the database and optimize all WooCommerce tables.
Is WooCommerce a Good Choice For Your Agency?
And there you have it! Everything you need to know about what WooCommerce does, whether it can scale, and how to go about making sure your clients’ online shops can grow without a problem.
If you want your clients’ websites to perform the way your agency promises they will, you’ll have to focus on a handful of crucial tasks. However, for the most part, optimizing an online store to scale has very little to do with the eCommerce plugin itself.
That’s why any mid-to-large size agency can benefit from the affordability, flexibility, and scalability of WooCommerce.
Looking for a reputable WooCommerce host that scales with growing websites? Check out our managed WooCommerce hosting and enjoy services like automatic scaling and caching, enterprise security, technology updates, global CDN, and image and thumbnail optimization.