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WordPress.com adds partners to lower the barrier to eCommerce

wordpress-com-ecommerceWordPress.com has new eCommerce options available to its users. Back in March of 2013, they partnered with ShopLocket for their Enterprise and VIP customers to be able to use the eCommerce tools on their WordPress websites. Now, they've added Ecwid and Shopify to the mix, and lowered the barrier to entry so that any user with the Business upgrade can use them.

What is the business upgrade?

WordPress.com pricing levels can be a bit confusing. VIP plans are $5,000 per month now (looks like it's had a price increase), and Enterprise is also expensive, starting at $500 per month. The Business upgrade is a measly (in comparison) $300 per year.

So, WordPress.com has significantly lowered the barrier to entry for eCommerce on their platform.

No native WordPress solution

To me, it's still a little disappointing that WordPress.com isn't offering a native WordPress eCommerce option, such as WP E-Commerce or WooCommerce. However, I”m sure that would have its challenges from a technical, implementation, and support point of view.

Still, I can't believe someone hasn't put together a full out hosted version of WooCommerce. It seems like a no-brainer Grade A opportunity to me. I told WooThemes' leadership as much when I met them last November. In my interview with Mark Forrester, WooThemes co-founder, he did hint that they had some form of SaaS WooCommerce solution in the cards, but was coy as to what it may be.

eCommerce for the rest of us

eCommerce is a beast to do right. That's just a statement of fact. There are relatively few truly booming huge marketplaces that offer a place for people to sell things; services like Ebay, Etsy, and Amazon.

However, eCommerce for small (keep in mind this could still mean millions of dollars) sellers and online complements to retail stores is booming. Enabling eCommerce options for a relatively low barrier to entry ($300 is nothing for the cost of a good eCommerce store) is a great move for Automattic and I look forward to seeing what kind of stores end up on WordPress.com.

The complete announcement is available on the WordPress.com blog.

Update: Chris Lema already took the WordPress.com eCommerce option for a spin, and has some great additional insight on the topic. My favorite point of his is that this requires yet another product to be wrangled into a website owner's life, further complicating things. His post is definitely a good one to check out on this topic.

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4 Comments

  1. We tried creating a hosted solution of Woo in 2012. Called QikCommerce.

    As much of a no brainer as it may seem the challenges are huge. Especially the onboarding process and the illusion of a one click solution.

    Unfortunately it didn’t fail because of the tech but instead because of the corporate culture which it was born out of.

    I’m pretty sure someone will eventually launch such a thing but I can tell you it won’t be Obox πŸ™‚ the mountain is too high and since we don’t own any of the tech you’re at the mercy of two giants in the game.

  2. I can’t believe someone hasn’t put together a full out hosted version of WooCommerce.

    I’ve heard there are actually a number of sites that have tried to do it.

    The amazing thing is, I’m deeply involved in the WooCommerce community but have never heard the name of any of them (except from WooThemes employees when I asking if they were going to do it).

    The fact that Automattic partnered only with hosted solutions shows there is a good opportunity for a hosted WooCommerce (and EDD, Exchange or WP e-Commerce for that matter).

    However, I do suspect it’s not quite the opportunity most people think it is. Much of WooCommerce’s appeal and the reason for its popularity stems from the freedom to do anything with it. The majority of sites at the moment are different to every other site – different theme, different extensions, usually custom code mixed in.

    That freedom doesn’t exist with a hosted service.

    Back to the news at hand, my suspicion is that Automattic are using this to test the demand for eCommerce on WordPress.com. If it proves popular enough, then they may invest in offering integrated plugins and then WordPress.com becomes “the hosted WooCommerce”. Afterall, the single greatest selling point of WooCommerce (and every other eCommerce plugin) is the integrated experience.

    1. See my comment on Chris Lema’s post in response to yours. You’ll never see Automattic roll out WooCommerce or EDD as options on WordPress.com. They’re philosophy is SaaS is the way to go and that is why ecommerce has been implemented the way it has. What you will see is additional SaaS partners added. I have more details in my other comment as to why this is. But anyone who knows Automattic’s philosophy on this subject, as well as their extremely strict rules as to data architecture for anything offered on WordPress.com, you’d know that SaaS is the only way to implement things to get around these policies and it’s why they have an entire developer API specifically for creating WordPress.com “apps” which are SaaS services integrated via API.

  3. As with all ecommerce projects God ( or if you prefer – the devil) is in the details. Having worked with a number of ecommerce vendors for many years – every project is different and except for simple scenarios where payment gateway and shipping is straightforward it is never easy.

    A few years ago I built a mine EC site for a client who was using the wp.com for his main site. We just got the same domain in another mode and linked the 2 sites. The ec site runs Woocommerce and I try not to look at it really.

    It is more simple than say WP ECommerce but it has still had some major re-writes in the past 3 years.

    Keeping a EC site up to date is a major job and not for the faint hearted. Server speed and reliability is also crucial so will be interested to see what happens.

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