WooCommerce 2024: Innovation or Alienation?

WooCommerce 2024: Innovation or Alienation?

Commerce is a constantly evolving market, and WooCommerce is no different.

After Woo’s latest announcement of their domain name changing from WooCommerce to Woo, I sat down to think a bit about its future, and that of eCommerce, in the coming months.

WooCommerce in 2024: A Glimpse into the Future

WooCommerce, a name synonymous with WordPress-based e-commerce, has been undergoing significant changes as we approach 2024. With the recent rebranding and strategic shifts, it’s evident that the WooCommerce team is gearing up for a future that’s both exciting and different.

A New Identity: Hello, Woo.com!

In a move that took many by surprise but was somewhat expected to eventually happen, WooCommerce.com has officially transitioned to Woo.com.

This change isn’t just cosmetic; it’s a reflection of the brand’s evolution.

As mentioned in their official announcement, the name “Woo” has been how many of their loyal customers referred to them for years. By adopting this punchy, fun moniker, WooCommerce is leaning into a name that embodies their excitement to empower both merchants and developers.

Whether that happens and to what extent is something we’ll have to wait and see.

This rebranding is part of a broader strategy. It’s not just about a new domain; it’s about streamlining and standardizing the names of their products and services.

For instance, “WooCommerce Payments” has been renamed to “WooPayments.” This simplified naming system aims to create a more cohesive connection between their core software, extensions, and programs.

In that respect, it’s a move in the right direction.

Woo Express: The Future of Commerce?

Another significant development is the positioning of Woo Express, WooCommerce’s hosted eCommerce solution.

By giving it more prominence on their website, it’s clear that Woo is pushing for a more user-friendly, streamlined eCommerce experience, similar to what we’ve seen for years with Shopify.

However, this move might have implications for the broader WooCommerce ecosystem, especially third-party developers and tools.

With the focus shifting towards a hosted solution, there might be less emphasis on the self-hosted versions, which have been a significant part of WooCommerce’s appeal and also the main source of growth from the developer community’s perspective..

Implications for the WooCommerce Community

While the rebranding and the push for Woo Express are exciting developments in terms of making eCommerce in WordPress simpler, they also raise questions about the future of the WooCommerce community.

This has already been questioned within the first few hours of the announcement being made. Here’s one example from Katie Keith of Barn2, a WooCommerce plugin development company.

I think it’s a shame that Woo’s new homepage promotes the hosted Woo Express as the default. It’s their right to do that as they literally own WooCommerce, but I feel this could lead to decreased market share as you have to read carefully to see there’s an open source version.

— Katie Keith (@KatieKeithBarn2)

Will third-party developers and tools, who have thrived in the self-hosted environment, find the same opportunities in this new landscape? Once again, only time will tell.

“Next Generation Commerce”

In early October 2023, WooSesh 2023 hosted the “State of the Woo” address, with its theme being “Next Generation Commerce”.

Woo’s CEO, Paul Maiorana, kicked things off by sharing some interesting stats about Woo’s growth in 2023. Here’s a quick run-down of those numbers from Sarah Gooding’s WP Tavern coverage of the event.

As you can see, Woo’s popularity is still strong, as is its community of developers that help power its marketplace of extensions and integrations.

Paul shared some interesting insights into where Woo is heading in the coming months, from TikTok to AI and what Sarah Gooding termed the “full blockification of WooCommerce core”. Take a look at the article linked above to learn more about these plans.

Is Competition a Concern or an Opportunity?

More competition is needed in eCommerce.

Ccertain markets are already being dominated by other platforms, such as Shopify.

Just look at creators on Youtube and their eCommerce stores, be it for their merch or an unrelated product. Not only are they powered by Shopify, but they’re also partnering with them to promote Shopify to a younger audience in their videos.

The simplicity and low barrier of entry for a platform such as Shopify is why it’s such an intriguing offering for younger generations.

Despite what WooCommerce and WordPress veterans’ opinions are on how “simple” it might be to set up a WooCommerce store in 2023, it doesn’t even come close to competing with Shopify in that regard. I’ve tested it myself and had a store ready to go within a few hours, photos and all.

This is where the opportunity lies for Woo.

Firstly, Woo Express has a successful and proven model to learn from and improve upon.

Second, WooCommerce developers have a younger target market to take inspiration from.

There’s so much that WooCommerce and WordPress can learn from these simpler, less robust platforms going into 2024. Granted, flexibility is great and allows for expansion, but for many people, all they want is something straightforward that works out of the box in just a few clicks.

I hope both Woo and third-party WooCommerce developers take this idea to heart in 2024. It can lead to some fantastic innovation that not only keeps the platform relevant, but also helps the developer community maintain its growth.

Looking Ahead

As we look forward to 2024, WooCommerce’s trajectory is clear.

With a fresh identity and a renewed focus on hosted eCommerce solutions, WooCommerce is poised to redefine the eCommerce landscape once again.

However, as with any significant change, there will be challenges and opportunities. For merchants, developers, and the broader community, it’s a time of anticipation and adaptation.

What do you think of this? Is WooCommerce’s next move a masterstroke or a misstep?