Is there still a place for WooCommerce in eCommerce?

By Emma Moody, 14th December 2023

With a reported 3.9 million eCommerce stores using WooCommerce, it’s one of the most widely used eCommerce platforms on the market. However, in an ever evolving eCommerce market with competitor platforms advancing in flexibility, security and performance, the question has to be asked: is there still a place for WooCommerce stores in todays marketplace?

This article will cover:
What is WooCommerce?
Why choose WooCommerce?
Pitfalls of WooCommerce
How WooCommerce compares to other platforms
Why we no longer recommend WooCommerce


What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is a plugin available for WordPress that provides eCommerce functionality. Renowned for its versatility and customisation, it has become a popular choice for online retailers.

Why choose WooCommerce?

1. Flexibility and customisation

With a wide range of themes and plugins, WooCommerce allows businesses to tailor their online stores to reflect their brand identity and meet their functional needs. The adaptability of WooCommerce has enabled retailers to create seamless and personalised shopping experiences for their customers.

2. Integration with WordPress

WooCommerce integrates with the world’s most popular content management system, WordPress. This makes it a solution that can be easily adopted by businesses. The cohesive ecosystem of WordPress and WooCommerce simplifies content management, SEO, and other critical aspects of running an online business,

3. Open source advantage:

As an open-source platform, WooCommerce provides developers with the freedom to modify and extend its functionality. This has led to a wide community contributing to the platform’s growth and ensuring that it stays up-to-date with the latest eCommerce trends. The open-source nature of WooCommerce has played a pivotal role in its longevity and adaptability in an ever-changing eCommerce landscape.

It also means that there is a huge support ecosystem, with plenty of WordPress and WooCommerce developers, and a giant catalogue of plugins available which can deliver great value for retailers.

4. Cost effective

For businesses looking for a cost-effective eCommerce solution, WooCommerce presents a compelling option. As a plugin for WordPress, it eliminates the need for a separate platform, saving on hosting and development costs. This affordability has made the platform particularly attractive to startups and small businesses.


What are the pitfalls of WooCommerce?

Well the title of the article may have given it away – WooCommerce is not without its faults. These are our biggest concerns with WooCommerce in the current eCommerce marketplace.

1. Security & data

Our biggest problem with WooCommerce is that it stores customer and order data within the website. This lack of separation between the website and the data means that in the event of a successful cyber attack, customer and order data will be compromised.

A lot can be done to protect WooCommerce websites, but the burden is on the website owner to implement measures. Once the time and cost of these measures are considered, many retailers will find that other platforms on the market are more suitable. For example, hosted eCommerce platforms like Shopify assume the responsibility for protecting data. They have a vested interest in keeping data safe and the resources and skills to do it.

2. Product management

WooCommerce product management underperforms in comparison to other eCommerce platforms available on the market. Retailers that have experience with other platforms typically become frustrated with the clunky interface and management offered by WooCommerce.

3. Performance and scalability

As website traffic and the product catalogue grows, it’s not unusual for website speed and performance to reduce. While there are ways to combat performance dips, businesses need to be proactive in monitoring and addressing concerns. Much like the security challenges, the businesses that are attracted to WooCommerce are less likely to have the skills to manage their website performance.

4. Change management

WooCommerce is easy to customise but can cause compatibility and change management issues. WordPress and WooCommerce continually invest in their ecosystem and release a steady stream of updates. When a website is heavily customised, the updates can become difficult to implement over time as the gap between the custom website and core product widens. This can result in a deteriorating website that becomes increasingly expensive to support.

5. Limited built in functionality

While WooCommerce is feature-rich, some advanced eCommerce functionalities are not available within the core implementation. Merchants may need to rely on third-party plugins or custom development to achieve specific features. This can lead to additional costs, compatibility concerns and a plugin-heavy website with reduced performance and change management concerns.

6. Ongoing maintenance:

Regular updates and maintenance are crucial for the security and performance of any online store. However, updating WooCommerce or its associated themes and plugins can sometimes lead to conflicts. Retailers need to be proactive in monitoring updates and testing them in a staging environment before applying them to the live site.

7. Reliance on WordPress

WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin which means it relies on the overall health and security of the WordPress platform. Updates to WordPress can therefore impact the functionality of WooCommerce. Retailers need to ensure that they are running the latest versions of both WordPress and WooCommerce to benefit from security patches and new features.

8. SEO

Although WordPress is typically a good platform for SEO, WooCommerce has some SEO quirks that will make it more difficult to optimise for SEO on product and product category pages. For example, the inability to manage URLs from the root (you’ll often see long URLs like

WooCommerce themes are notorious for using bulky, slow and unoptimised code which can also reduce the ability of an eCommerce website to rank.


How does WooCommerce compare to other eCommerce platforms?

WooCommerce vs. Shopify:

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Shopify and have delivered huge success for our eCommerce clients with Shopify website development. One of our Shopify websites won at the eCommerce Awards 2023.

  • Ease of Use: Shopify is known for its user-friendly and intuitive interface, making it an excellent choice for beginners. WooCommerce has a quirkier user interface that is more challenging to use.
  • Flexibility: WooCommerce is highly customisable, especially for users familiar with WordPress. Shopify also offers high levels of customisation and has a number of Shopify apps that can be used similarly to WooCommerce plugins. Shopify is a hosted solution which means that customisation is a little more limited. In this instance, restrained customisation can be a good thing because it prevents businesses from unwittingly building overly custom eCommerce websites that can’t be maintained. Shopify Plus and Shopify Headless Commerce solutions are both available which offer much more flexibility.
  • Cost: WooCommerce is free, but businesses will incur costs for hosting, themes, plugins and maintenance. Shopify has monthly plans with built-in hosting. In our opinion the total cost of ownership of a Shopify website is much lower because Shopify takes care of the security, updates and hosting that can become costly to do well on WooCommerce.
  • Scalability: Both platforms are scalable, but Shopify is usually quicker to set up for businesses with straightforward needs. Shopify is also better equipped to handle large product catalogues and has scalable packages like Shopify Plus and solutions like Shopify Headless that mean the site can more effectively scale with the business. We wouldn’t recommend WooCommerce for large businesses due to the lack of flexibility and performance issues when delivered at scale.
  • SEO: Both WooCommerce and Shopify have SEO drawbacks of a similar style. Both can be managed and mitigated by a good developer.


WooCommerce vs. Magento:

  • Flexibility and Customisation: Both platforms offer a high degree of flexibility. Magento is robust but requires technical expertise to create and manage. Magento is a more future-proofed solution because it can scale effectively, but is overcomplicated and expensive for small retailers that don’t require such a comprehensive solution. In my opinion, WooCommerce and Magento are not comparative platforms and it would be rare for them to be in contention by the same business. SMEs are typically drawn to WooCommerce, whereas Magento is more suitable for Medium to Large businesses with access to development resource.
  • Cost: WooCommerce is free, but expenses can accrue quickly for hosting, plugins and maintenance. Magento is resource-intensive, with higher development and hosting costs. Businesses that choose Magento typically have a lot of products and significant financial turnover via the website. They should have a strong business case for selecting the platform, understanding which features will drive value for the business. Magento is highly unlikely to be a cost effective solution for a small business.
  • Scalability: Magento is renowned for its scalability, making it a preferred choice for large enterprises. WooCommerce can also scale, but is better suited to smaller businesses with smaller product catalogues.
  • SEO: Magento is a great platform for SEO, whereas WooCommerce does have some drawbacks. Typically businesses on Magento are functioning on such a large scale that small SEO wins can make a huge cumulative difference. For SME’s, the SEO quirks of WooCommerce wouldn’t be a huge concern for us when recommending a suitable platform.


Why we no longer recommend WooCommerce

Although WooCommerce will be on the market for many years to come, our agency no longer recommends it as a solution. With stronger and better value eCommerce platforms available on the market, we’re focusing on platforms that will provide our clients with the best longevity, security and scalability.


If you would like to discuss an eCommerce project, you can speak to our team by emailing us at [email protected] or calling 0203 0111 641.


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