Industry Analyst & Strategist
It’s been defrosting, marinating, percolating, however you want to describe the slow burn of WooCommerce over the last year, I believe that 2021 will be a breakout year for WooCommerce as a platform to start competing at a much greater level with Shopify, and BigCommerce. This will be propelled by Automattic providing greater tools and integrations with plugin providers which are already familiar to many WordPress agencies and developers.
In November 2019, Automattic partnered with Stripe to offer subscriptions options for WordPress.com, TechCrunch, WordPress.com sites can now accept subscriptions with new ‘Recurring Payments’ feature: “The subscription model is today sustaining a number of businesses, including artists, creators, news publishers, game developers, entertainment providers and more. Now, top publishing platform WordPress.com is making it easier for any creator or web publisher to add a subscription feature to their own website, so they can begin to generate repeat contributions from their supporters, readers, fans or customers.” Just a few months later in February 2020 we have a beta WooCommerce Payments announced, followed by the full release in May, WP Tavern, WooCommerce Payments Allows Shop Owners to Manage Payments Without Leaving WordPress Admin: “WooCommerce Payments creates an integrated payments dashboard in the WordPress admin. It allows shop owners to manage charges, deposits, refunds, and disputes without leaving their store. By not having to toggle between the store and third-party payment processors, administrators should be able to enjoy a more seamless experience.” And of course this is powered by Strip as well, “Under the hood, payments are handled through Stripe Express. The WooCommerce team developed the front-end so that it would match the look and feel of WooCommerce, making it function like a native part of the plugin. Stripe handles the processing from the backend.”
What’s next on the list after simplifying the payments aspect of ecommerce? Email! Automattic/WooCommerce took two big steps in this direction in 2020. First in September, the Jetpack arm of Automattic partnered with Constant Contact (owned by EIG, which also own Bluehost), for a unique offering called Creative Mail, Introducing Creative Mail for Jetpack: “Jesse Friedman, Director of Innovation for Jetpack, says, “The team at Constant Contact has built Creative Mail from the ground up to be a WordPress-first email marketing service. Creative Mail directly integrates with Jetpack and WooCommerce to provide you a seamless marketing experience.”” This wasn’t an acquisition but obviously a strategic partnership, the acquisition arrives in December with MailPoet, and quoting an article I wrote, WooCommerce Acquires MailPoet: “Similar to Constant Contact and MailChimp, MailPoet provides easy to use and flexible email and newsletter management. The Pot of Coffee and Morning Coffee newsletters having always used MailPoet.” The announcement from Kim Gjerstad dives a bit deeper, We’re Joining WooCommerce!: “WooCommerce stores can look forward to improved features to reach their customers in the near future. This is a natural continuation of WooCommerce functionality we added to MailPoet 3 years ago. Nearly a quarter of our users run WooCommerce stores already.”
With these two strategic paths, Automattic has seeded an economy and environment ripe for innovation in the greater WordPress community. When WordPress.com launched Built by WordPress.com there was (still is?) consternation among freelancers, and agencies, on how this would impact their businesses. Matt Mullenweg commented on this point directly via twitter, “One important point that illustrates something: Crowdfavorite (2007), 10up (2011), and XWP (2014) were founded after VIP (2006). Not to mention WP Engine (2010). Automattic helped create the market that many others have thrived in. That’s what we always aim for.” There are and will continue to be bumps in the road but I fully agree that having Automattic propel WooCommerce will expand the marketplace.
We already see how WooCommerce is picking up speed with hosting providers like GoDaddy, WP Engine, Convesio, and Liquid Web. GoDaddy acquired ecommerce email application Jilt as part of their Skyverge acquisition in September. WP Engine is growing their outreach via blog content, Convesio has a dedicated area for WooCommerce, and Liquid Web is growing out a managed WooCommerce experience with the acquisition of Nexcess and a focused marketing effort.
There are also completely independent providers finding ways to integrate or augment WooCommerce. Omnisend has made a big push into the space after being very successful with email marketing and cart abandonment solutions in the Shopify and BigCommerce worlds. Supervisor.com launched as the ultimate load testing solution for complex and non-cacheable ecommerce sites. HumanPresence has taken their form protection solution to the WooCommerce world as well.
These are just the beginnings of what will be an immense level of growth and innovation for WooCommerce in 2021.