WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress. While there are a few different eCommerce plugins for WordPress, WooCommerce is by far the most popular. In fact, WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce platform full stop, powering 39% of all online stores at time of writing. We build most of our eCommerce stores using WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is open source software, meaning it is free to use and anyone can view the code and contribute to it. That said, it is mostly developed by WooThemes which is owned by Automattic.
Strengths of WooCommerce
The biggest strengths of WooCommerce are its user friendliness and ease of customisation. WooCommerce can be customised with a vast array of extensions. These extensions are essentially plugins for a plugin. They can add functionality to turn your website into a particular type of online store, or they might allow you to connect WooCommerce to a third party service such as a shipping provider, or a payment gateway. WooThemes sell an entire ecosystem of WooCommerce extensions, however many third parties also produce extensions. If an out of the box extension is not available for your needs then tthe functionality you need can be hand built with custom code. WooCommerce is very developer friendly, utilising WordPress’ templates and hook and filter system extensively.
The main weakness of WooCommerce is it’s scalability. The database structure of WooCommerce is currently based on the database structure of WordPress. This means that product and order information is stored in a relatively inefficient way in the database. The point where a store slows down depends on many factors but it usually takes over 10,000 products before speed becomes an issue. With a good web host and good optimisation and caching techniques there are WooCommerce stores operating with 100,000 products+ speedily. This issue is not being ignored by the core WooCommerce team. On the contrary, they are taking scalability head on by taking steps toward separating the WooCommerce database structure from WordPress entirely.