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Web development

WooCommerce: All About the Web’s Most Popular eCommerce Software

I’m a WooCommerce developer, and I write a lot of stuff… but I realised I haven’t written a lot about the software itself, so here’s a longread for you… this will go deep, and get deeper over time, but if you’re interested in eCommerce, and specifically Woo, then this post will provide a good deal of context.

What is WooCommerce ?

WooCommerce is an online store – eCommerce – plugin for WordPress, which turns a WordPress website into a fully functioning, feature-rich eCommerce store.

After installing the completely free WooCommerce plugin to a WordPress website, you can add products, take orders, and receive payments online.

In addition to being very quick and easy to install and setup – we’re talking 10-15 minutes to have a store with 1 product and a functioning payment system online – WooCommerce is also very extendable, because of it’s Open Source heritage. Thousands of capable developers have created features, called extensions, which add specific elements.

Popular WooCommerce extensions include WooCommerce Subscriptions and WooCommerce Memberships, which allow you to collect recurring payments and run a paid members system using the software respectively. Hundreds, if not thousands, of extensions exist in the ecosystem, from many companies, and a wide network of developers (me included!) are able to customize your WooCommerce store exactly how you need it.

A Brief History of WooCommerce

WooCommerce is, and has always been, a WordPress plugin.

It’s a really powerful, feature rich, much extended, WordPress plugin.

This is the eCommerce plugin for WordPress… but it wasn’t always so.

A Fork of JigoShop, by WooThemes

The software was a fork of another GPL based WordPress eCommerce plugin, called Jigoshop. WooCommerce officially launched on 27 September 2011, as a free to install WordPress eCommerce plugin, as a part of WooThemes.

Mike Jolley and James Koster were both developers at Jigowatt, the company which made Jigoshop, who were hired by WooThemes to create the project which would become WooCommerce.

Acquisition by Automattic

After popular demand saw WooCommerce very quickly become one of the biggest eCommerce softwares on the globe, and also one of the most installed WordPress plugins, Automattic, the company which has exclusive licence to the WordPress name, bought WooThemes.

This happened in May 2015.

Automattic is the company owned by Matt Mullenweg, the WordPress founder.

After the acquisition, WooThemes dropped the “Themes” name, and became WooCommerce, which made a great deal of sense, as it was their main product by far, by this time.

WooWorkers Becomes WooExperts

Automattic also rebooted the accreditation system, which had been called “affiliated WooWorkers” (of which I was one) and renamed it to be WooExperts (my business Silicon Dales became WooExpert accredited, and still is), initially with Gold, Silver and Bronze status, which they removed in December 2017.

How Popular is WooCommerce?

I mention in my title that WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce software. It’s difficult to say for sure, but BuiltWith suggests around 26% of the top 1 milliom websites which have eCommerce features run on WooCommerce’s checkout, which is a reasonably good way to measure things.

eCommerce Software usage stats -from BuiltWith – see source here.

If we cut to the top 100,000 or top 10,000, Shopify and Magento do overtake WooCommerce, suggesting that it is most popular with smaller scale stores, perhaps owing to the free to install and simple setup involved with WooCommerce.

I’ll add to this post as time goes one… Let me know in the comments if you are interested to know me.

By Robin Scott

I'm Robin Scott, a WordPress and WooCommerce expert who, along with three other people, runs a business called Silicon Dales Ltd remotely, from a base in the North West of the UK (kind of near Manchester!). I enjoy using my talents for programming to track and interpret sporting, political or retail data - and therefore you'll see me posting some content in these spaces in this, my personal website. If you're interested to talk about leveraging this for your business (in sport, entertainment, retail, etc) please contact me.

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