Y’all know WooCommerce: it’s a plugin for WordPress that adds robust eCommerce functionality to your site. Notably, like WordPress itself, it’s open-source and free. You only pay for things if you need things like special plugins that extend functionality.
This is a huge month for WooCommerce! Two major releases:
WooCommerce is a major upgrade, to the point that there are things that aren’t compatible just yet. You should do all the normal best practices when upgrading, like making backups and testing on staging first. Once you’ve upgraded, you get:
- New admin: You don’t need the separate admin plugin anymore, it’s baked right in! So you get very nice detailed reporting of just about any aspect of your sales performance. Stuff like comparing year-of-year sales and full customization of reports.
- New onboarding: If you already use WooCommerce, you’re already all set, but for new users, you’ll be walked through setup in a much more clear way. Like a multi-step wizard that asks you questions about your business and gets things configured correctly.
- Behind the scenes: A crucial bit to WooCommerce is the Action Scheduler and a change in 4.0 is moving that work to the database level for much better performance. For example, if you sell subscriptions, this is the thing that runs that updates all your users subscriptions and keeps them in the correct state and updates all the admin data.
If you’d like to read more about the 4.0 release…
WooCommerce Payments (Beta)
This is a brand new (free) plugin from WooCommerce. Funny name, right? Of course, WooCommerce could already take payments. If you wanted to take credit cards, your best bet was the Stripe plugin, as it worked great and also opened doors for taking Apple Pay, Google Pay, and others.
With WooCommerce Payments the entire payments experience is moved right into your WooCommerce dashboard. You go through a little onboarding experience as you activate it and then you’ve got a whole new area of your dashboard dedicated to payments.
This video does a good job of showing it off:
- See all the payments
- See deposits to your bank
- Process refunds
- Deal with your disputes
And all that type of stuff directly on your dashboard, rather than having to hop over to some other payment dashboard elsewhere to do things. It’s a totally custom-designed experience just for WooCommerce.
Want in? If you’re in the U.S., here’s a special link to skip the beta invite process and download the plugin. It’s not available quite yet for the rest of the world, but you can still sign up for the beta to help signal interest in your region.
What do we use it all for?
Here at CSS-Tricks, in the past, we’ve used WooCommerce for selling merchandise like t-shirts and the like. We’re not doing that at the moment, but maybe we will someday again! WooCommerce is still on the site and upgrading to 4.0 was painless for me.
Lately, I’ve been more interested in what it might be like to have memberships again. And actually, to be accurate, subscriptions to memberships, as those are different things and it took me a minute to wrap my brain around that. They are both separate plugins but work together:
- WooCommerce Memberships deals with selling a “product” that can unlock certain areas of a site.
- WooCommerce Subscriptions gives you the ability to create recurring charges.
So if you wanted a membership that you charged on a monthly or annual basis for (rather than a one-off cost membership), you use both plugins. Memberships deal with locking down the content and they expire at the end of a term. A subscription can keep a membership going by extending the membership upon recurring payments.
I’m still learning how all this can work, but here’s a whirlwind tour.
Now say I publish something that I’d like to lock down to members. In the “Advanced Panels” area after the editor, there will be a content restriction area that comes from the Membership plugin.
Now if I was to view that page as someone who wasn’t a member (and by the way, the User Switching plugin is nicely integrated so you can preview the site as people of different plans) I would see only an expert of the post and the rest of it hidden with a content-locked message.
From there, of course, the user could proceed with purchasing a membership to unlock the content.
I really like how easy this all is to set up and how well integrated into WordPress it is. Of course it is, that’s why WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce platform out there.
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