Just as WordPress has come to dominate the web, WooCommerce is dominating the e-commerce space. So we’re talking to WooCommerce experts to learn some new strategies and insights.
Justin Sainton is the founder of the WordPress agency Zao, a company he launched in 2004 after quitting high school early to pursue web development. Skipping college seems to have paid off, as Zao is still going strong. Today, Justin is known as a WooCommerce expert.
In this post, we talk with Justin about increasing income, making improvements with data, and the future of e-commerce.
What makes for a healthy WooCommerce store? What do you look for?
Great question! There are probably a couple angles to look at this from, at least. What makes a healthy store technically? What makes for a healthy store for the business? And what makes for a healthy store for the customer?
- From the technical angle: A healthy WooCommerce store is checking at least three boxes: solid hosting, a good theme, and the right (if any) plugins. Insufficient hosting, a poorly developed theme, or the wrong plugins can tank a site faster than you could imagine.
- At the business level: We’d measure the success of a WooCommerce store in different ways for different businesses—but it usually comes down to friction. How much friction does a store owner feel from their WooCommerce site? Does it work well with their internal order management workflows? With their shipping and payment systems? Does it make their lives as business owners easier or harder?
- Finally, for customers: WooCommerce sites that take a customer-first approach from the very beginning tend to be the healthiest. This is arguably the most important way to measure a healthy WooCommerce store. Are customers able to buy what they’re coming to buy? Are any customers coming to buy anything at all? Is the user experience conducive to reducing friction for the customer? How quickly are they able to check out? Does the checkout process confuse customers? Does it require more fields than it should to get through it?
What are some effective ways a WooCommerce store can increase its income?
There are myriad ways for a store to increase their income, but I’ll share three that I think are particularly effective:
- Flash sales. Scarcity wins, all day long. Assuming the store has already been growing a well-segmented email list (if you haven’t, start now!)—running a time-bound flash sale with healthy discounts is a great way to generate revenue from potential customers (or potential repeat buyers) who have been on the fence about purchasing again from you.
- Abandoned Cart Follow-ups. Depending on whose research you’re using, you can recover up to a third of your abandoned carts by following up with those users with a discount email. We love Jilt for this, but there are lots of great solutions for this type of follow-up.
- Build a Tribe. This doesn’t work for every business—but you’d be surprised at the number of businesses who have customers who are almost religious fanatics for their brand. These types of businesses with customers who adore them are ripe for a subscription/membership model. Charging a nominal monthly fee to be a part of an insider club that gets more value from your business than other customers can be a great way to add additional income streams, as well as develop more faithful brand ambassadors.
Can you give us an example of using data to improve a WooCommerce shop?
Absolutely! We recently worked with one of our favorite clients, Brooklyn Tweed, to improve the performance of their website.
Using data from New Relic, we were able to identify areas of their website that were causing undue stress on the server. In their case, we were able to identify that variations on the single product page—and the custom implementation with which they were rendered—were causing upwards of 700 uncached queries to the database on each page load!
By using some intelligent fragment caching here, based on the data we had available, we were able to improve the server performance, as well as the customer experience by speeding up the page load time.
What’s in store for the future of e-commerce? Are there things on the horizon—either mundane realities or cool tech—that excite you?
Telling the future is always much more difficult than creating it. I think there are endless possibilities in areas that are pretty obvious—augmented reality, virtual reality, etc. But in the world that a lot of our clients live in, the things that are on the horizon that excite me the most veer toward the more philosophical.
Seeing an open source project like WooCommerce completely dominate the e-commerce landscape actually gives me great cause for excitement for the future of e-commerce. It indicates that we’re moving toward a more open, collaborative ecosystem of e-commerce platforms, systems, and developers. Open source software radically alters every sphere it is able to influence, and I think we’ve just seen the beginning of how e-commerce at large will be affected by open source software.