WordPress is now the major league champion of e-commerce possibilities.
Just a few short years ago, WordPress used to be a nice platform where you could set up a free blog to tell the world about whatever cause or hobbies you were into. It was easy to use, better than cheap, and it was a comfortable place for people to get their ideas out into the world.
Who would have known that in just a few years, WordPress would change how we built websites and shopped online?
Back in the internet’s infancy, big companies had all of the advantages. They could afford a stable of tech wizards who knew how to set up a website and make it look really good. It’s funny to think now that a full-featured site that did nothing more than offer pages of company information, a phone number, and an email address.
Every type of business, from one-person accounting offices to huge corporations now depends on WordPress. I see companies like Ford and Best Buy with WP sites as well as major magazines, gutter installation operations, clothing retailers, and breweries.
And entrepreneurs. I can’t begin to tell you how many entrepreneurs who didn’t have the capital to start and maintain a brick and mortar store are now able to offer their services to anyone across the world. Buyers, suppliers and shipping services can be located anywhere and freelancers don’t need a permanent address to have a steady income.
Developers have seen even more potential for WordPress’ future. From new themes to mobile apps, everyone who knows coding wants a piece of the popularity.
WordPress, on the other hand, wants to rule the internet.
The tipping point came in 2015 when Matt Mullenweg, CEO and Co-founder of Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, made the bold move of buying WooCommerce, which powered more than 650,000 online stores at that time. According to calculations, that purchase allowed WordPress to seriously level up from powering 23% of the internet.
With the WooCommerce plugin, a WordPress site could start bringing in some coin. It allows store owners a simple way to run an online store, from a grandma running an online garage sale to an international brand like Taylor Swift, and it’s now giving e-commerce competitors like Shopify a run for their money. The writing on the wall says that WooCommerce will become a Saas platform like Shopify, BigCommerce and others.
In fact, I remember reading that Mullenweg said at the time of the buyout that his ultimate goal was to power 51% of the internet.
It seems that he’s well on his way.
The Downside to the Upside
Now that everyone has a quick-n-easy way to collect payments, it really does seem like new sites are exploding. But not every hosting site can handle online retailers’ success.
Sure, hosting companies like GoDaddy are making it easy by offering domain names for $10 and hosting for the price of a couple of lattes a month. While that’s great for your overhead, your whole site could come crashing down when you least expect it.
The more plugins and financial draw that your site has, the less likely that a cheap hosting service is going to be able to handle it in the long run. And the worst part is that when you’re bleeding revenue and don’t know where to turn because your site isn’t working anymore, these places won’t care. They took their pound of flesh from you, so their job is done.
Maybe you don’t realize this, but those low-budget hosting companies are about quantity over quality. When you choose them, your website is jammed onto a server with hundreds of others. While this isn’t much of a problem if they’re all posting cute cat pictures or travel journals, all it takes is one site to cause trouble.
One site. One big e-commerce site that is running hundreds of purchases a day can suck up the server’s resources, leaving your site running slow enough for customers to notice. And research has shown that the slower your site loads, the more likely customers are to click away and find another place to shop. Seconds matter.
One site. If hackers find their way onto one site, they could take control of the server’s admin account, giving them access to every single site on the server. Your site could crash, your customers could get spammed, and the server could be commandeered to take over even more servers, turning your business into a casualty.
If these nightmare scenarios still aren’t reaching you, think of it this way: your site holds thousands upon thousands of pieces of private personal information about your customers. Why, with all of that on the line, would you choose to pay a fraction of what you pay for your cell phone service to safeguard all off that important data?
It’s Okay, Be Picky
Even if WordPress and hosting companies have made running an online business cheap and easy, you don’t have follow their lead and then pay with your business and your reputation down the road.
You don’t have to break the bank, either. There are some amazing agencies out there like WebDevStudios and Slocum Studios who can put together a phenomenal WordPress site for you, but you’re going to pay agency prices. That’s probably fine for a huge company that sees a $60k-$100k project as a line item.
But if you’re a smaller store with a handful of employees, there are still affordable options out there for you that have an eye toward quality.
Predictions say that freelancers will make up 50% of the US workforce by 2020, and estimates are that we’re at about 30% right now. That means there are a lot of people out there who are hustling to make a buck, and you’ve got to be wise to make the right choice for your business.
Here are a few tips to make sure you’re getting the support your WordPress site needs to knock it out of the park with all of the options available.
— Start by insisting on a long, strong interview process. Asking a lot of questions will help you weed out the jerks who want to collect payment and skip away to the next paycheck. Here’s my best advice on making that process as productive as possible.
— Don’t expect something for nothing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard something like, “I want the best for my site and best for our business, but I only want to pay $50.” And I want a brownstone in Brooklyn for $350 a month. It’s not happening, and even if someone promises to make it happen, you don’t want to deal with the end result. Trust me.
— Even if you have a smaller budget, a reputable developer will probably be able to help with some items on your wish list or refer you to someone else who can help find ways to help you bootstrap your site to a more profitable place.
— Expect developers to be responsive, but busy. If they’re in demand, you may not be able to get your project completed next week, but you should be able to stay in communication with them while your project is in line.
— Expect to hear the unexpected. Good developers probably have seen your problem in some form or another WordPress site, so use their expertise to your advantage. Listen to their suggestions for improvements.
Dream Big for Your Business
This is an exciting time to have a WordPress site for business. Now that payments are possible, new ways of bringing innovations to that platform are springing up every day.
For example, just the other week I had a restaurant come to me and ask what it would take to build an app that told customers what kinds of exclusive beverages were on tap that night and how much was available. Think of that — you could be at home or wandering around town, wondering where to go out for your favorite entree or drink. With a quick tap on an app, you could not only see the menu, but find out if the restaurant had your favorite item on hand!
It’s a brave new world, and you’re in the big leagues, WordPress store owners. Make sure you’re connected with the right kind of technical support to make site run smoothly and maximize every available pocket of profit that your website can provide.
I partner with WordPress site owners to create smooth, high-functioning, and most importantly high converting sites. Leave a comment below about your situation, and I’ll give you straight talk and exceptional solutions.