Scaling WooCommerce – The 5 Largest Stores

Scaling WooCommerce

 

As a follow up to our look into the rise of WooCommerce, and coinciding with the WC download counter hitting 2 million, we wanted to try and find the largest sites using WooCommerce both for fun and perhaps some inspiration! Despite being installed on roughly the same number of sites as Magento, WooCommerce stores are often smaller affairs selling fewer products with less traffic and revenue. However, if you look a bit closer you’ll find there are a few bigger players out there using WooCommerce that may change your mind on how much WordPress + WooCommerce can really handle. Previously we’ve seen two sites touted as examples of WooCommerce scalability; Soul Brother Records (20,000+ products), and more recently Kinder Books (54,000+ products). Whilst impressive in terms of SKU size (and data entry!), both stores seem to be relatively low traffic, niche sites. The following list we’ve curated focuses more on the overall size and influence (traffic, products, revenue, status) of sites. It’s by no means a fully accurate list of the largest sites – almost impossible with the unfortunately flawed tools available for external analysis – they’re some of the most valuable for examination we found. In no particular order:

1. WPML.org

The WPML plugin uses WooCommerce

Stats: 6.8K Global Alexa Rating

WPML, or the WordPress Multilingual Plugin, is the go-to plugin for localisation of international and/or multilingual sites; with support for eCommerce (with WPML CMS), custom tags, taxonomies and post types, it’s a fully featured plugin that has few substitutes. With a global Alexa rating of around 6800 we can assume they’re pulling in a decent amount of traffic. With just three purchase options the main role of WooCommerce for WPML is handling the checkout and account pages, products aren’t displayed on the front end with Woo, instead making use of the lesser known URL hacks for WC (e.g. http://wpml.org/purchase/?add-to-cart=162035&buy_now=1 which adds the correct variation to the cart and redirects straight to the checkout for an easier purchase flow.)

 

2. The Spectator

The Spectator uses WooCommerce for it's bookshop.

Stats: 1.4K UK, 23K Global Alexa Rating, 2.5 Million PageViews/Month

Whilst somewhat lower in terms of global traffic levels, The Spectator is a well established, influential magazine that has been running for 184 years in the UK who are using WooCommerce to power their store. Looking back we can see they launched the shop in the summer of 2012 and were originally using Volusion. The site is now using WooCommerce for all aspects, including product display, cart, checkout and account functionality. Add a product to the cart and you’ll instantly recognise the typical WooCommerce cart and checkout page layout.

 

3. HypeBeast

The HypeBeast store uses WooCommerce to sell over 4000 products.

Stats: 4100+ products, 1.6K US, 4K Global Alexa Rating

HypeBeast is probably our favourite Woo store we’ve come across to date; with a huge catalogue of over 4100 products and traffic stats to match (they claim 32 Million PageViews/month across their network), they’re certainly one of the bigger Woo stores out there. But where the site really excels is its design: it truly looks like a professional, large scale eCommerce site – something that the majority of Woo sites fall far short of. Almost every element of Woo’s default styling has been changed for the better, from product listings to tag and category filtering to the cart and checkout pages – without peeking at the source you’d never think it was running on Woo (Save perhaps for the default message left in the order notes box). Overall, this is one of the best examples of the power of WooCommerce and it’s ability to scale in multiple ways. Definitely have a longer look at this one to give you some ideas for your next Woo project!

UPDATE

We’ve spoken with Hype Beast who have now moved on from WooCommerce, citing difficulties managing their increasing orders and huge product catalogue.

4. PageLines DMS

The PageLines DMS uses WooCommerce to sell subscriptions.

Stats: - 10.8K global Alexa Rating

PageLines DMS is a Design Management System which, as the name implies, tries to bring the content management benefits of a CMS to the design aspect of a website. The core product is a plugin/theme/WYSIWYG drag and drop editor for WordPress, allowing you to easily design websites (that’s the idea anyway). With a global Alexa rating of 10K and downloads of their plugin pushing past 1.2 Million, it’s another pretty huge website using WooCommerce. The main product, a subscription, uses the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension to process their monthly and yearly payment options. PageLines also operates a marketplace for add-ons (similar to extensions for WooCommerce) that add additional functionality to their product, which is also underpinned by Woo, running on a commission basis for contributing authors.

5. Entrepeneur.com

Entrepreneur.com also uses WooCommerce for it's bookshop.

 

Stats: 1K Global, 660 US Alexa Rating, 93 Million Monthly PageViews (PDF link)

Entrepeneur.com is the digital outlet of one of the largest finance and business magazines currently in publication, and has traffic stats on a par with their reputation. In a similar fashion to The Spectator, Entrepreneur launched a bookstore in early 2012 based on Volusion eCommerce software, but in October this year they made the switch to WooCommerce, although only for front-end product lisitngs. The cart system is currently powered by nopCommerce; whether this is just a transitional compromise or an indication of WooCommerce’s poor inventory and order management systems (we can’t wait for the API, and better systems to be built on top of it!) isn’t something we can figure out at this time.

Have we missed something huge? Let us know in the comments and we’ll take a look.

 

  • Mike Girouard

    I’d really like to see some commentary on _how_ to scale woo.

    • GPLclub

      Definitely something we’re working on Mike, we hope to publish a few in-depth case studies, especially focusing on the tech and scalability side soon.

  • MikeMeisner

    Thanks for sharing these examples. I’ve been trying to find larger ecommerce sites that use Woocommerce so this was timely. Agree with Mike G. that it would be interesting to get more details about how they manage to scale that many SKUs. Look forward to future case studies. When it comes to scaling a site this large, what are the sorts of needs and capabilities that separate the store/platform from small to mid-size sites? In other words, what do you think might limit Woocommerce in a large-scale ecommerce context?

    • GPLclub

      Thanks Mike M. There are definitely optimisation, caching etc issues that come into play at this level, but I think these can be solved _fairly_ simply. What I believe the biggest problem to be; is when you’re processing 100+ or 1000+ orders for physical products a day, the WP dashboard and by extension the WooCommerce order management pages become a real hindrance to productivity and automation.

      • MikeMeisner

        Good points. I think there are a few extensions that could help, like the Advanced Order Notifications and Zapier integration. With the notifications, you can trigger order emails to send to people based on certain events, and Zapier has almost limitless potential to push data to tons of sources. I’m sure whenever a store hits 1000+ product orders, scaling and management become an issue, regardless of the ecommerce platform.

      • Jonathan Tynes

        With a store that gets about 25-50 orders per day, do you think that woocommerce is a good option?

        • GPLclub

          Hi Jonathan, at 25-50 orders/day I don’t think you’ll have too much trouble with WooCommerce – it’s probably the best fit for you. As mentioned below, this plugin: http://www.storeapps.org/product/smart-manager/ can help streamline administrative tasks.

          • Jonathan Tynes

            Thanks! I love Storeapps.. they are great!

            Thanks for the response!

  • Tim

    I saw your note about WooCommerce’s “poor inventory and order management systems.” Just curious…. do you know of any good objective reviews of WooCommerce.

    All the ones I see are developers or designers trying to persuade people to move over to Woo. Trying to get a real-world “this is what you can expect day-to-day” review of Woo out-of-the-box.

    Thanks!
    Tim

    • GPLclub

      I have yet to see a completely objective, well reasoned and researched article on WooCommerce unfortunately, and I think that implies something in it’s self.

      There’s no doubt Woo is great and the huge (and growing) community of users, developers and advocates is without a doubt it’s best asset, but there’s no getting away from the fact it’s built on top of WordPress. The WP admin screen is very poor for bulk inventory management, order fufillment and customer relations. Store apps have an extension that mitigates some of this and is worth a look despite the sleazy sales page: http://www.storeapps.org/product/smart-manager/.

      I think Woo is brilliant for your small to medium size stores, but once you reach a certain point, you have to start looking at dedicated platforms, whether that’s magento, websphere etc. Since posting this, we’ve actually learnt that HypeBeast is moving off Woo due to problems at scale.

      Thanks

      • WTS

        What kind of problems are we talking about? I would like to know since I am just switching to Woo and so would like to keep them in mind. to be forewarned is to be forearmed you know.

  • eduardo

    Did Hype Beast mention what system they went to?

    • GPLclub

      Yep, they’re moving to a new (open source) platform called Sylius: http://sylius.org/ – looks interesting, but very early stages at the moment.

  • http://www.transpacific-software.com/ Transpacific Software Pvt. Ltd

    As a leading jewelry and Diamond ecommerce store developers we
    regularly receive enquires on how to integrate more than 1,50,000 diamond data
    from Diamond trading platforms like Rapnet/ IDEX into woocommerce based stores
    We had to undertake a completely out-of-box approach to achieve
    this.
    Technical details on how we achieved it is available on my
    blog post http://www.transpacific-software.com/blog/integrating-woocommerce-with-diamond-data-from-rapnet-or-idex/
    Demo woocommerce store hosting about 40,000 diamonds is available
    on
    http://www.techtps.com/woo/?post_type=loosediamonds

  • Alex Murphy

    We built http://www.tarox.co.uk using WooCommerce with just shy of 40000 products