WooCommerce is an extremely popular WordPress.com eCommerce plugin, with over 7 million all time downloads, according to wordpress.org. It has been growing rapidly since it was created in 2008, and now generates a monthly revenue of over $1 million dollars. This has caught the attention of Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, and it was just announced May 19, 2015 that they had bought the plugin. WordPress is the most popular online publishing platform, powering more than 20% of the web, as stated on wordpress.com. WordPress.com is a hosted version of the WordPress software, meaning you can start a website without having to set up your own host and other technical configurations. It allows users to automatically build a website right away.
So what does WooCommerce do? It’s an easy to use plugin that allows its users to create an online store using a WordPress website. Because it is free to download and comes with many useful customizable themes and options, it’s very attractive to users wanting to create an eCommerce site. An eCommerce site is a site that performs commercial transactions such as retail or auction sites. In fact, it is the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin, powering 24% of all eCommerce websites, as stated on woothemes.com.
According the Automattic Chief Matt Mullenweg, all of the plugin’s 55 employees are joining Automattic. Automattic boasts to be a strong believer in open source, with almost all of their work under open source licenses such as GPL. GPL, or the GNU General Public License, gives the public the ability to use, study, share, and modify software.
In an interview with VentureBeat, Mullenweg, who founded WordPress.com, talked about the future of the plugin. When asked if there were plans to build the plugin into WordPress.com, he said that since it is already open source GPL, there aren’t any plans for that right now, but that it’s a possibility further down the line. So for now, users who want to use the plugin in their site will still download the plugin separately from installing WordPress.com.
Mullenweg said that this plugin would be a third major line for Automattic, along with WordPress.com and Jetpack. He named it as his biggest acquisition by far. Jetpack connects to a WordPress.com site and provides traffic and customization tools, enhanced security, and speed boosts, according to jetpack.me. The plugin adds additional functionality for online commerce sites.
WooCommerce is free, but profits from selling extensions, themes, and support, makes it profitable. Some features that come for free when you download it include the ability to handle payments with Paypal, shipping, inventory, and reporting. But there are also hundreds of extensions to add features and functionality to a WordPress.com commerce site, such as the ability to perform bookings, shipping, and subscriptions. Some of these extensions are free and some are commercial. So many features make the product attractive to online businesses of all sizes – both big and small. Some of the more big name vendors that use the plugin include UPS, PayPal, FedEx, and amazonpayments, according to woothemes.com.