What is the Scalability of WooCommerce? A Full Guide | FC®

By Jess Brown | June 21st, 2022

WooCommerce is an excellent platform for eCommerce businesses of all sizes. It is easy to use and has many features to help you grow your business. In the U.S., WooCommerce powers a whopping 55% of all eCommerce sites and nearly 2.3 million online stores. However, you may be wondering about the scalability of WooCommerce. Can it handle a large number of products and customers? Is it easy to scale up your WooCommerce store?

Here is a look at what you can expect in terms of scalability. With proper investment, WooCommerce can easily handle substantial traffic and transactions. With access to thousands of extensions, this article details how this versatile platform can grow with your business. 

Is WooCommerce Scalable?

WooCommerce is WordPress’s enterprising eCommerce platform. It streamlines buying and selling online and helps retailers customize their websites to accommodate their unique needs. But what about its scalability? Can it handle a large number of products and customers? 

Fear not! WooCommerce is highly flexible and can easily accommodate the growth of your online store. This expandable plugin can easily handle spikes in traffic and demand. If you’re looking to increase the number of visitors to your site, you will be prepared to manage the higher volume, with both new and returning clients. 

As your website grows, there are a few things you will need to consider to keep up with increased traffic. There are three main pillars of scalability: load balancing, caching, and asynchronous processing.

  • Load balancing is routing traffic to different servers based on an algorithm. This approach can help distribute the load and improve performance. However, load balancing can be complex to set up and manage.
  • Caching is when you save data for easy access later. This process is beneficial for resources such as images or database queries. Caching can decrease load time and reduce the strain on your servers.
  • Asynchronous processing is a way of dealing with tasks that are not dependent on each other. This technique can help improve performance by allowing simultaneous task completion.

How Many Products Can WooCommerce Handle?

We already know WooCommerce is a powerful plugin that can handle large volumes of products and transactions. However, people have a common question: how many products can WooCommerce handle? 

This answer depends on various factors, such as your site’s design and functionality. Overall, this free plugin can handle 5,000 products easily and tens of thousands of transactions per second. While WooCommerce is made to accommodate a large number of products, it may not be the best option for extremely large stores. Generally speaking, you would not want to use this plugin for a store with over ten thousand products.

WordPress / WooCommerce Ecosystem

The selling point of the WordPress / WooCommerce framework is that it is an ecosystem for development teams worldwide to create software extensions that they can sell on the platform. The amount of plugins is staggering. There are over 6,000 WooCommerce plugins in the free WordPress Plugin Directory, and you’ll find a further 1,800+ WooCommerce plugins on CodeCanyon. The WooCommerce Extensions Store has over 500 free and paid add-ons. The overall number of WooCommerce plugins is probably even more than this though since there are numerous websites that alone or through smaller markets sell WooCommerce-ready plugins.

The point is, there are many individuals and companies whose entire business model is providing innovative solutions to solve real-life business problems like yours.  This means WooCommerce can integrate with virtually any third-party service like your favorite CRM, email marketing campaign platform, inventory management service, and so much more.

WooCommerce for Large eCommerce

Many eCommerce platforms are available, but many big businesses choose WooCommerce for their online store. This system is popular for its flexibility and customization to meet the needs of a wide array of industries.

According to recent estimates, over 5,000 products are sold online every minute, which means these stores carry many responsibilities. Not only do they need to ensure high product quality, but they also need to verify that their website can handle the influx of traffic. Some of these stores may have thousands of products and see hundreds of visitors per second.

There is one commonality between many of the booming eCommerce stores – they use open-source software to build their site. One reason is that it can save the store money. Open-source software, like WooCommerce, is usually free to download and use, so stores don’t have to pay for expensive proprietary software. Another reason is that open source software is usually more customizable than off-the-shelf software, which means these eCommerce stores can tailor the software to better meet their needs. 

A major advantage of using WooCommerce over SASS options is that WooCommerce doesn’t take a cut of every sale, like Shopify does if you choose not to use their in-house credit card processing payment system.

WooCommerce Best Practices

There are a few things to keep in mind when using this plugin to ensure you get the most out of the platform.

1. You have to use WordPress as your foundation. WordPress is a stable and secure platform. Using WordPress will give you access to a wealth of plugins and themes designed explicitly for eCommerce sites.

2. Choose a well-coded theme that’s right for your business. Your eCommerce site’s theme may look great, but without well-coded HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, your site can run into various issues.

3. Site speed is perhaps the most critical factor to consider – a slow site can result in customer frustration, increased load times during busy periods, and even delays in executing actions. By being aware of these potential issues, you can take steps to ensure your store runs smoothly and efficiently.

4. Optimize your website for mobile. These days, we all browse the web on our phones, but many eCommerce sites are not optimized for mobile. If you want to reach everyone who visits your site, you’ll need to optimize.

5. Personalization and customization are vital to eCommerce store success. This isn’t just a problem for big brands; smaller businesses can struggle with providing customization options, which means customers don’t feel like their brand is made for them.

WooCommerce Hosting

eCommerce businesses rely heavily on their hosting providers to ensure a smooth and seamless experience for their customers. From page load times to product delivery, every aspect of the customer journey is crucial in determining whether or not a sale is made.

There are two main web hosting solutions for eCommerce businesses: Shared Hosting and Managed Hosting. Before comparing some of the most popular hosting providers in the industry, you should consider key factors when choosing a hosting solution.

Shared Hosting

Shared Hosting is the most widely used type of hosting and the most affordable. Shared hosting is suitable for small businesses and personal blogs. The best part about it is that the host does not provide the hardware and storage space but instead divides the server use among multiple clients and provides the applications and software. Shared hosting allows for great flexibility, and you can get as many domains as you want to host on the same server.

Managed Hosting

Managed Hosting is a good option for businesses that don’t have the time or resources to manage their server. This solution is more expensive than Shared Hosting but includes increased security and performance features.

Hosting is an integral part of the success of your eCommerce business. The hosting package you choose will have a significant impact on how fast and efficiently customers can access their product and if there are any problems with delivery or functionality after purchase.

Keep in mind that both shared and managed hosting will likely be insufficient as extensive sites often want their own VPS or virtual private service. Customized integrations like ElasticSearch or Electric Studio rather than the basic DB structure may prove helpful. 

WooCommerce Limitations

The WooCommerce plugin is an excellent eCommerce tool due to its flexibility, low cost, and simple integration of payment processing providers, shipping solutions, and much more. But some businesses find that the plugin isn’t suitable for their needs or are unable to customize it to reflect the unique structure of their online store.

One potential limitation of WooCommerce is that it does not have optimized database structures. This can lead to slower load times and reduced performance, particularly for larger stores with complex product catalogs. In addition, it can be challenging to scale WooCommerce sites as they grow since the database structures are not designed to handle large amounts of data. As a result, businesses planning to expand their eCommerce operations may want to consider using a platform with more robust database capabilities.

While WooCommerce has a lot to offer in terms of features and flexibility, one downside is that it has a lot of plugins. This can be both good and bad. On the one hand, it means that there are many options for customizing your store. On the other hand, it can be overwhelming to try to figure out which plugins you need and how to configure them. In addition, some plugins conflict with others, so it’s essential to do your research before installing any plugins. Too many plugins can also slow down your site, so it’s important to find a balance that works for you.

WooCommerce vs Competitors

The influential South African company WooThemes created WooCommerce in 2008, which subsequently was acquired by Automattic in 2015. Automattic is the parent company of WooCommerce. WooCommerce now has both giant institutional support, as well as a passionate global open-source community that helps keep the platform updated. It is essential to choose the correct software for your business. Deciding which eCommerce platform is right for your brand can be overwhelming as hundreds of options are available.

Here are a few competitors to consider when trying to find an ecommerce software solution that will work best with your brand.

Shopify

Shopify and WooCommerce go head to head as the leading platforms on the market. They’re both full-featured, platforms with broad appeal. While they are very similar, each has its own pros and cons. Shopify can handle the same volume of product and traffic as WooCommerce, but it might be overkill if you’re just starting out. Although expensive, Shopify employs many different features, so it works great if you have a complex store on your hands that requires more advanced functions. Shopify is also a SASS platform, which many find to be beneficial as it eliminates the need to stay on top of software updates or manage your own hosting environment.

One of the limitations with Shopify is that the framework’s proprietary nature makes it difficult to have multiple environments for testing out variations or even the compatibility of different plugins. The higher tier – Shopify Plus – allows this limitation to be bridged but at a very high cost.

One of the major drawbacks for scaling with Shopify is that in addition to the credit card processing fee of either 2.7% – 2.4% (depending on the plan), there’s an additional $0.30 on every online credit card transaction. There’s also a 2% fee payable on all in-person card transactions. If you opt for another payment method apart from Shopify Payment, you’ll be charged a fee of 1% of every transaction. So depending on the cost of your goods and the number of orders you get, these additional charges can add up fast.

Magento / Adobe Commerce

The differences between Magento, now known as Adobe Commerce, and WooCommerce are pretty apparent. Magento first came out in 2007. eBay acquired Magento 4 years later. It’s a solution for any brand that wants to grow into a global powerhouse, and the scalable platform has the functionality to do just that. While WooCommerce offers a more straightforward setup that provides solid eCommerce capabilities out of the box, Magento’s more expansive range of features appeals to more advanced businesses.

Management of these sites takes a dedicated expert technician. At the same time, it can be a challenge to find quality Magento developers in the United States, so maintenance can be cumbersome.

There are two options for running a Magento site, self-hosted, and as an enterprise level SASS. This is much like WordPress. The self-hosted version is called Magento Open Source, though Adobe definitely pushes you to their cloud-based Adobe Commerce software which, according to them “includes optimized cloud architecture and hosting as well as AI-powered merchandising and analytics.”

PrestaShop

PrestaShop might be right for you if you’re looking for a simple and flexible storefront solution. It includes all the basic tools you need to build an online store that helps drive sales, including product catalogs, shopping carts, and search functions. However, if you’re looking for a storefront with more features and support than an introductory eCommerce site, WooCommerce might be more your style. WooCommerce has more powerful features, like multi-vendor management, built-in payment options, and multiple more scalable shipping methods, not leaving out the vast arrange of extensions available for customization. 

SquareSpace

At just $27 a month, SquareSpace Commerce is an attractive option for small shops with a DIY-ethos. SquareSpace Commerce is a collection of tools for online goods sales and order management. You may process credit card payments, accept PayPal, process refunds, and collect donations by connecting a payment processor. They feature themes created especially for online business, allowing you to build appealing product arrangements, encourage purchases, and do a lot more.

If you’re not concerned about scalability (which you probably are if you’re reading this article), then SquareSpace ecommerce might be fine for you. It offers very little options for code customizations, as additional functionality can only be added via 3rd-party extensions.

Conclusion

Every business has a unique set of needs and requirements for an eCommerce website. While many deployment options are available, successful companies need to find a solution that fits their specific needs. Once they do, they should optimize their site’s content, marketing, and user experience to create the best possible online shopping experience for their customers.

WooCommerce development agencies can help organizations set up their site. If you’re not familiar with the eCommerce space, it can be challenging to get started. Working with a marketing agency cuts down the learning curve to help you start selling right out of the gate. If you have any queries or problems at all, check out our approach to WooCommerce development, and do not hesitate to contact us for further assistance.

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