The biggest competition for WordPress eCommerce plugins isn’t another CMS

It’s Amazon.

And to a degree, a handful of other mega eCommerce retailers and marketplaces. Amazon controls a staggering percentage of all eCommerce transactions.

According to Bloomberg and Slice Intelligence, Amazon controls nearly 40% of all holiday shopping dollars. Another 21 retailers control the next near 40%. Non-mega-retailer eCommerce transactions account for only 22% of all dollars spent.

From the piece in Bloomberg:

“Amazon has done well on the basics of selection, convenience, value and trust, and it continues to build on those things,” said Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor’s chairman. “They invested a lot expanding their Prime Now service around the country, and that’s been a real big win this holiday.”

I, and I know many of you, default to buying from Amazon, versus straight from a retailer’s website. My motivation is definitely within the “convenience, value and trust” territory. It’s simply easier to buy from Amazon, especially with free Prime shipping, that only takes two days.

That makes me think: what role is there for WordPress to play in eCommerce?

Well, fortunately there’s still a lot of room in the eCommerce space! People are buying more and more online, and that trend will of course continue.

Amazon does have drawbacks, and is geared toward physical goods (well, and Kindle books). Products with more complex implementations, digital only products, and memberships or subscriptions, may not be as well suited for Amazon.

Site owners can also utilize some of the benefits of Amazon, though it may not be super easy. Amazon has a multi-channel fulfillment program that allows you to integrate FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon, the program that powers two day free shipping for Prime members) with an external website. So WordPress eCommerce plugins could integrate with this, to allow for customers to buy from a private site, with the comfort of Amazon fulfillment speed and efficiency.

I haven’t found much in terms of plugins that support FBA. There is one, but I can’t verify its quality or effectiveness. It’s also the 7th most upvoted idea on WooThemes’ WooCommerce ideas board, and it’s said to have started, though I haven’t verified it actually has.

Whether through FBA or another provider, it’s going to be important for order management to be fast and reliable with all stores: Amazon has simply set the bar incredibly high, and that’s what I expect as a buyer, and I’m sure most other buyers do as well.

Anyway, my larger point is that with a huge eCommerce landscape, less than a quarter of it is available to WordPress right now, as top retailers gobble up so much eCommerce activity. It means that WordPress-centric stores are the very long tail of stores that exist.

However, there is still a great deal of opportunity. And many sellers sell both on big online retailers, and on their own websites. And as the general public gets more and more comfortable with online buying, WordPress plugins are well positioned to power new stores that come online.

It’s worth remembering, though, who the “competition” is. It’s not really Shopify or Squarespace or Magento: it’s huge marketplaces like Amazon.

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