Hosted WooCommerce Solution Coming to WordPress.com in 2023, Following Recent GoDaddy and Bluehost Launches – WP Tavern
WooSesh kicked off this week with a keynote session from WooCommerce CEO Paul Maiorana, who provided insight into the current state of the ecosystem. More than 3.4 million websites use WooCommerce, according to Builtwith, including 25% of the top millions of online stores. It is by far the most popular solution among WordPress sites with e-commerce, capturing 93% market share.
Maiorana covered some industry-wide trends shaping up in 2023. WooCommerce merchants are uncertain about the economy and while some are optimistic, others don’t see it improving any time soon. Although growth has slowed since the rapid pandemic-fueled acceleration of e-commerce in 2021, Maiorana said revenue is expected to rise steadily through 2025.
WooCommerce Core is entering a period of transformation as the new admin has been fully merged and the Cart and Checkout blocks are now part of the core (in beta). The plugin is getting more user-friendly with over 40 blocks available now. WooCommerce has seen a 319% increase in block theme usage and aims to have full out-of-the-box compatibility with any block-based theme.
WooCommerce Hosted Products Market Heats Up
One of the biggest announcements from the event was that WooCommerce was developing its own turnkey hosted solution in conjunction with hosting partners. WordPress.com will be the first to pilot the product in February 2023. Maiorana said the goal of the solution is to improve onboarding and retention with the following:
- WooCommerce pre-installed, activated and hosted
- A pre-packaged set of essential plugins
- Streamlined integration that works with partner systems to improve conversion
- Competitive monthly pricing to reduce churn
- Co-marketing and revenue sharing with hosts
WooCommerce’s hosted solution will be in direct competition with other hosts who have recently launched their own products.
In November 2021, GoDaddy acquired Pagely in an effort to roll out a new WooCommerce SaaS product. Pagely has partnered with previous acquisitions in 2020 of Poynt, a payment processor, and SkyVerge, a popular WooCommerce plugin development company, to create an integrated solution. Last month, GoDaddy launched a self-service preview of managed WooCommerce stores for US-based customers.
GoDaddy’s solution offers the ability to sync across marketplaces, including Amazon, eBay, Google, Walmart, Etsy, and YouTube, with a single dashboard managing payment processing, marketing, shipping, and inventory . It’s integrated with GoDaddy Payments for online and in-person transactions, which incur a 2.3% + 30¢ transaction fee. WooCommerce hosted preview plans range from $99.99/month to $249.99/month.
Over at WooSesh today, Beka Rice, Senior Director of Product Management at GoDaddy, provided insight into multi-channel and omni-channel selling for e-commerce merchants during her presentation. Enabling multi-channel store management seems to be one of the biggest selling points of GoDaddy’s offering.
Bluehost is another recent competitor in the managed WooCommerce hosting space, having launched its product last month. In March, Newfold Digital, the parent company of Bluehost, acquired YITH, a WordPress plugin company with over 100 WooCommerce extensions. Bluehost’s managed WooCommerce packages include a curated set of YITH plugins to help merchants extend their stores to offer gift cards, reservations and appointments, wishlists, product filtering, and more.
Bluehost offers two plans. For the first year, when billed annually, customers pay $9.95/month for a single store or $12.95/month for selling in various marketplaces. Customers of the most expensive plan have the ability to manage product inventory on Etsy, Amazon, and eBay from a consolidated dashboard through Ecomdash. At the budget end of the WooCommerce hosting spectrum, Bluehost’s offering emphasizes creating a guided and user-friendly onboarding experience.
Bluehost conducted an internal research study last year and found that its small business customers were looking for solutions that would allow them to sell online, but many of them are first-time website builders. The company created this new WooCommerce offering to take the hassle out of navigating through themes and the many plugins needed to launch a store.
Bluehost uses YITH’s Wonder theme as the starter store theme, which we reviewed in August.
“Our theme is designed for WordPress, uses the block structure that modern WordPress websites are starting to adopt (one of the first block-based
WooCommerce Block Themes) and also includes three full page templates for different homepage layouts and designs,” said Jason Cross, Newfold Digital Senior Vice President, Digital Presence and Commerce.
“This not only provides users with a modern-looking store, but also allows them to continue customizing it easily in the future. YITH Wonder comes with six different style variations that make it easy to customize accent color combinations and typography for the site.
Bluehost’s offering is aimed at meeting the needs of merchants who will build the stores themselves. The company hasn’t created its own payment solution, but connects to popular payment providers such as PayPal and Stripe and offers cash on delivery and in-store pickup options.
WooCommerce is at the start of its journey towards launching a hosted solution, but the company also plays a different role in the ecosystem as a maintainer of the core software. In an interview with The Tavern after her keynote, Maiorana said that the vast majority (+90%) of ongoing WooCommerce core development is done by Automattic’s WooCommerce team.
“One important difference is that we really focus on the WooCommerce ecosystem – including the thousands of web hosts that help support and drive adoption of WordPress and Woo across the world – as our ‘customer’. most important,” he said.
“And what we hear from these customers is that it’s hard to compete with the simplicity offered by proprietary turnkey e-commerce solutions. At the same time, many web hosts lack the capabilities to handle things like onboarding, conversion, and retention holistically. They need our help to compete and win. »
Most of the major hosting companies that serve WordPress customers, like WP Engine, GoDaddy and Bluehost have already developed their own hosted WooCommerce solutions, although there are many smaller companies that don’t offer plugins, themes and user-friendly integrations that may be more open to partnering with WooCommerce makers.
“We also work with a ‘core first’ perspective,” Maiorana said. “This means that our efforts here will help bring improvements directly into the core WooCommerce experience and other related extensions. We want to pass on everything we learn and all the benefits we discover to every WooCommerce user.
“We believe the winning strategy for the WooCommerce community is not to divide efforts or keep these innovations to ourselves, but rather to work together to make WooCommerce better for everyone.”
Maiorana couldn’t share more details about the solution they’re developing, but with over 800 products on the WooCommerce.com marketplace, the company has the ability to offer a great deal on extensions for those hosting with them. WooCommerce is also currently beta testing WooPay, a one-click cross-site payment experience that uses WooCommerce Payments. Integrating WooPay with the network of WooCommerce hosting customers can also give the new checkout (and WooCommerce payments) a major boost.
With WooCommerce soon to be in contention with its hosted solution on WordPress.com, the competition around managed e-commerce hosting is starting to heat up. It may no longer be enough for web hosts to simply offer WooCommerce and Storefront pre-installed. Although the biggest hosting companies have acquired WooCommerce plugin stores to create attractive packages of store functionality, there is room for various offerings across a wide range of pricing tiers as the WooCommerce adoption continues to grow.