Just as WordPress has come to dominate the web, WooCommerce is dominating the e-commerce space. So we’re talking to WooCommerce experts to learn some new strategies and insights.
Matthew Nelson is the president and interactive strategy director for FirstTracks Marketing. Founded in 2009 by Matthew, FirstTracks Marketing focuses on WordPress and is recognized as one of 17 official WooExperts in the U.S. for their WooCommerce expertise.
“When it comes to e-commerce, speed is money.” -Matthew Nelson
We talked with Matthew about how to speed up sites, grow email lists, and track data.
What makes for a healthy WooCommerce store? What do you look for?
The number one thing we look for from a technical standpoint is good theme implementation: Does it run fast? We come across lots of really bloated, off-the-shelf themes that have been built with all these extra drag-and-drop tools. They aren’t necessary and are often only using a fraction of the functionality—so it just ends up being a lot of unnecessary overhead load that slows the experience down. When it comes to e-commerce, speed is money.
The other key thing we look for is how any customizations handle updates. So what overrides were added to the theme, did they properly child theme the WooCommerce templates, and have they been keeping up with any additional updates that have been released for those overridden files? We try to use hooks and filters within WooCommerce for customizations whenever possible, as it minimizes manual maintenance when updates are released.
What are some effective ways a WooCommerce store can increase its income?
The number one way technically is to increase your deliverability speed. Then you need to look at accessibility concerns, how good is your mobile experience, and how well is your catalog organized and optimized to give your buyers what they want as quickly as possible. Again, speed is money.
Outside of the technical strategy, we have seen great success with customer email list growth using social contests with WooBox, fun interactive pop-up tools such as Listagram, and increasing consumer confidence with verified buyer reviews using YotPo. All of these add-ons for WooCommmerce integrate very tightly and are worth the cost of admission. They make the site more interactive and engaging, grow your pool of regular buyers, and build your depth of verified user-generated content. These strategies have helped us grow many of our clients’ e-commerce stores by an average of 20% year over year.
Can you give us an example of using data to improve a WooCommerce shop?
We use data in our clients’ e-commerce store management every day. Every week—at a minimum—we track where our clients’ sites are at performance-wise in relation to their monthly goals for overall revenue, average order value, overall session counts, paid channel sessions and revenue contribution, email promotions performance, and conversion rates by channel.
We look at all of this data constantly to help gauge how the progress of our month is going in relation to our overall goal. This way we can better see how the site is performing and trending, so if we need to take additional action to reach our goals we can be out ahead of it far enough to get something additional into the pipeline for that month. Or we might decide to just stand pat and see how things continue to shake out. Either way, we are always making better decisions for all channels and the overall health and success of the shop by responding directly to all of these key progress indicators.
What’s in store for the future of e-commerce? Are there things on the horizon—either mundane realities or cool tech—that excite you?
The future of e-commerce is very bright. Things are still evolving at a breakneck pace, we are building bridge integrations with so many different software, and have been able to push WooCommerce to do so many new things that it’s hard to say or imagine what’s coming next. We have seen this software go from the new kid on the block a mere five years ago to now powering almost 50% of all e-commerce. If that isn’t explosive growth and adoption I don’t know what is.
We are excited to see new and improved technical integrations for things like abandoned cart recovery (we recently started using this new service from Jilt—it totally rules). We also want to see the WooCommerce platform continue to mature into a class-leading enterprise e-commerce solution that people want to build their businesses on.
If there was one thing I’d like to see from WooCommerce it would be a really tight Amazon integration that works flawlessly. As Amazon continues to grow and tries to completely dominate the space, it will be very important to make it easy for shop owners to support their Amazon store inventory with their WooCommerce products. It’s a space you just can’t ignore in your overall strategy if you are looking to expand your customer base and revenues. Unfortunately, to date ,we have only seen a few extensions that do this and they are not very reliable, slow down sites, and break frequently. Who knows, maybe we will just write our own later this year—only time will tell!