Lots of WooCommerce announcements. What’s next?

There's been a lot of WooCommerce announcements recently.

A few weeks ago GoDaddy announced a massive enhancement to their WooCommerce hosting, by offering loads of value via the SkyVerge extensions (via the acquisition of SkyVerge last year). This is the logical next steps for them after having started focusing on WooCommerce hosting more than a year ago (recall the announcement in October of 2019).

This past week, WP Engine announced it is finally getting serious about WooCommerce, with a dedicated solution for SMBs – connecting the work they've done with Gutenberg, WooCommerce, the plugin updating they got from the PerfectDashboard acquisition, and their industry-leading hosting.

And three weeks ago Nexcess announced a first-of-its-kind no-code solution for new stores that doesn't rely on customers choosing from store templates. The industry has shifted towards design templates (offering anywhere from 16 to 900) but it results in stores all looking alike. Of course Liquid Web (the parent company of Nexcess) led the charge into Managed WooCommerce hosting back in 2018 (with the announcement of the partnership with Glew for advanced reporting).

All three of these announcements offer new merchants an ability to leverage WooCommerce to build their first store. Each is bundling WooCommerce with some additionally acquired features or partnerships, and providing hosting.

In one very-real way, it's the start of the SaaS-ification of WooCommerce. So what's next? What can we expect to see?

Predicting Four Shifts

I think we should be looking for, and watching, 4 shifts in our open source eCommerce community that revolves around WooCommerce.

The shift from developer-focus to merchant-focus

WooCommerce has always been available to merchants who want to launch their own online store. But what the recent WooCommerce announcements by GoDaddy, WP Engine and Nexcess highlight is a shift towards making it even easier for store owners to get started online, rather than focusing on store builders who are comfortable pulling different plugins together.

Today, if a merchant is getting ready to start a new store, they often consider the non-open source solution, Shopify. It has never been ashamed to state its focus on non-developers. And we've seen how fast it has grown.

When we launched Managed WooCommerce hosting at Liquid Web almost 3 years ago, it was our prediction that several hosts would follow because we were all seeing the same thing – that the world needed to embrace merchants with a simple open source solution that could adapt to what they needed over time.

The recent WooCommerce announcements suggest we've hit that mark. So now you can expect to see an even stronger push to make things easy – which is something the WooCommerce folks have also been working on. So I expect this wave will be with us for the next 24 months at least.

The shift from plugins to solutions

Shortly after we launched Managed WooCommerce hosting, at the time only for large stores, I gave some talks on how we were doing “bundling.” We not only partnered with Glew – the leader in advanced analytics for eCommerce stores, but we partnered with others like Iconic to make key features available to customers without them having to buy 8 more plugins. Then AffiliateWP, and most recently Recapture.

GoDaddy's acquisition of SkyVerge brought it some of the most powerful WooCommerce extensions. Some of these features were tiny, but often expected from the core product. When they were missing, customers would get frustrated about the need to buy one feature after another.

But their recent WooCommerce announcement will make all those features a core part of their WooCommerce offering. It's the shift from customers having to get one plugin after another to a scenario where a merchant gets started and has everything they need.

The shift from “only small stores” to “serious stores”

The other day I told you that Nexcess had more than 100 stores doing over $1,000,000 in revenue last year, with an average order just under $150. Those aren't small stores.

For the longest time, WooCommerce was the solution people talked about when they were talking about tiny or brand new stores. But we've seen WooCommerce handle some seriously large stores with crazy traffic, like Flex Seal.

I don't know how many large stores will go to GoDaddy, but I fully expect some large WooCommerce stores to check out WP Engine's new offering. We know several are already scaling well over at Pagely.

WooCommerce will continue to move up-market, with hosts helping create offerings that convince stores of all sizes that WooCommerce can scale.

The shift from simple to complex architectures

When Rudis called us at Liquid Web, it was late on a Sunday night. Their launch had crumbled because their site was really slow, hosted at AWS. That began the process of bringing them over to our Managed WooCommerce hosting solution, and then helping them tweak a few things to give it another launch opportunity.

After a massively successful launch – they did more in two hours than in their best month the previous year – we introduced them to an agency partner that could help them grow.

You may have recently heard their story from Zeek, our agency partner, when they talked about the headless WooCommerce work they'd done with Rudis at the Gatsby conference.

While this wasn't a WooCommerce announcement, hosts like WP Engine, are announcing platform solutions for headless WordPress and I think we'll see similar announcements for WooCommerce shortly.

Conclusion

What's your take as you've seen these WooCommerce announcements? Do you see these same shifts coming? Or are there other dynamics at play? Let me know on twitter.

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Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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