WooCommerce launched by WooThemes

Wow a whole month with no posts! Sorry about that folks – you might think this means I’ve been hiding under a rock and not keeping up with whats going on with WordPress these days. Far from it – I’m still knee deep trying to ship a new WordPress theme which is taking forever with other customer commitments so blogging time has been the poor cousin of the family for a few weeks – all that should change real soon.

In the meantime WooThemes dropped a major announcement today which is worthy of a quick post. WooCommerce has just been released. Make no mistake – this is a big big day for WooThemes. The full release details can be found on the WooThemes blog post covering the release.

You might remember that WooThemes caused a lot of controversy back in August when some of the team behind Jigoshop joined WooThemes to work on a fork of Jigoshop which is what we see being released today as WooCommerce. In the interim Jigoshop has continued to grow and is very much alive and kicking as a project and is rapidly evolving into a fantastic eCommerce platform for WordPress.

So what’s changed since the fork?

Unfortunately I’ve not had a chance to look under the hood of the code just yet – I’m dying to but it will be a while yet before I have the time. In the meantime, the announcement highlights the following:

Since forking the previous Jigoshop codebase, we’ve made these notable additions / tweaks for the release of WooCommerce V1:

  • revamped admin interface, which is more native to the WordPress dashboard & thus more familiar to the average WordPress user.
  • Improved reporting, with more stats, graphs and built-in support for Google Analytics e-commerce (goal) tracking.
  • New front-end features, including catalog sorting and built-in up-sells / cross-sells.
  • Revised coupon system complete with coupon expiry dates and usage limits.
  • Built-in HTML email templates.
  • Improved order management.
  • Simplified product data entry plus better product sorting / duplication within the WP dashboard.

Woo Community reaction

The blog post has over 70 comments as of writing and one thing is coming through very clearly from a lot of the comments posted to date. Some people are not happy at all about the pricing model being applied to themes and extensions for WooCommerce. First of all the core platform itself is free. Being a fork of Jigoshop, the Woo guys made it clear that the fork would be available via github for everyone to get their hands on – including Jigoshop should they wish to port changes back into their fork – true to their word – the WooCommerce github is up and running. But WooThemes have upset a lot of their club subscribers by not giving them access to WooCommerce extensions and themes. This is understandable given the marketing messages communicated to date for club subscriptions was about having access to ALL themes. Clearly WooCommerce is a completely different animal from a regular theme but I think WooThemes could of spent a bit more time planning how this new product (and it is a product) was brought to the market.  For example, the Theme Club page still refers to obtaining access to ALL themes in their collection. This is a little bit misleading. I’m sure Adii and the guys will sort this out over the coming days but a bit more time planning all this might have negated a lot of early confusion and frustration for their existing club members. It’s a bit of shame really given this is a pretty big deal for WooThemes. WooCommerce has been on the cards for quite a while and I think this is a big play for WooThemes. The potential user base for WooCommerce is big – very big. Personally I think WooCommerce should be spun off completely from the core Woothemes website. I think it does warrant a separate “club” for want of a better term and keeping it half under the WooThemes brand is only causing confusion and pissing off WooThemes customers.
All that said, I’m really looking forward to playing with WooCommerce and it’s fantastic to have so much innovation going on in the WordPress/eCommerce ecosystem at the moment. Adii and the rest of the Woo team will also be very concerned about any negative customer reaction (Adii has already responded to pricing model complaints) and I’m sure be swift to react and evolve the WooCommerce pricing model in the coming weeks where necessary.


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