Profiles in Woo: Manos Psychogyiopoulos

Meet Manos Psychogyiopoulos, Head of Product at SomewhereWarm

How do you do the Woo?

I build products for WooCommerce.

Tell me a bit about what you do with Woo.

I lead SomewhereWarm, a small company that loves building and supporting high-quality WooCommerce plugins. Over the years, we have developed some very successful WooCommerce extensions, such as Product Bundles, Composite Products, and, more recently, All Products for WooCommerce Subscriptions. And we are still developing new products to help entrepreneurs and developers succeed with WooCommerce, like Gift Cards.

SomewhereWarm is a team of four, which means I am still deeply involved in everything we do, from product, to design, development, testing, support, documentation and marketing. At the same time, everyone on the team has a solid grasp of at least two roles, which allows us to adapt well to changing priorities. These days, I mostly manage the product side of things.

What year did you start using WooCommerce?

I started writing Product Bundles around the time that WooCommerce saw the light of day in 2011. I was one of the first third-party developers to launch an official WooCommerce extension.

Tell me the story of how you started using WooCommerce and why?

It was a happy twist of fate! I’m a Power Systems Engineer by training, so if it wasn’t for WooCommerce I’d probably be employed in the energy industry.

Shortly after graduating in late 2010, I was drafted to serve in the armed forces. While there, an unusual opportunity came up: Two friends asked me to help them launch their new online business. I had done some work with WordPress in the past, and thought it would be a fun side project, so I took up their offer.

That’s when I first discovered the work of Mike Jolley and James Koster. When WooCommerce was announced by WooThemes in 2011, I was already in love with it — and everything that the project stood for. In the end, my friends got their new WooCommerce store, and I ended up joining them as a partner in a new entrepreneurial adventure.

In addition to managing our WooCommerce store, I designed, prototyped and tested many of the products we offered, and then marketed and supported them, too. As our business grew, I also helped my team by adding new functionality to our store. Some of the plugins I developed became official WooCommerce extensions, and brought me closer to WooCommerce as time went by.

By 2014, WooCommerce had grown to become the world’s largest open-source e-commerce platform. Eventually, it won me over, and I decided to start SomewhereWarm and direct all my energy to it.

Although we’ve come a long way since 2014, my early experiences as a store owner had a profound impact on how we build and support our software. Most designers and engineers these days rarely get a chance to observe their users, let alone feel their worries, or live their routines. Having been in the shoes of those you serve literally changes everything.

What is your favorite thing about Woo?

As a store owner, I loved the flexibility it gave me to adapt to our fast- changing needs. We simply would not have been able to scale our business fast enough with any other platform.

As we launched new products and shipped to new destinations, we needed to adjust the way we managed inventory and fulfilled orders — at least a few times. WooCommerce consistently allowed us to quickly make small, low-cost tweaks that made process and business adjustments possible. Without them, we may have been forced to delay some shipments, lose some customers, ship to fewer destinations, or work less efficiently. None of these compromises would have been big enough on its own to put our business at peril. However, all of them together would have created a big competitive disadvantage over time.

As a WooCommerce developer, I believe that our biggest strength is our WordPress technology and community heritage. Ironically, many of the things that make WordPress and WooCommerce flexible are the same things that can make it frustrating. With freedom comes responsibility. With openness, a greater need for transparency. 

What is your biggest challenge with WooCommerce?

I would love to see some design consistency across WooCommerce, and good design guidelines and resources for developers.

Share with me one of your most challenging or unique projects you have done with Woo.

Our most unusual one is probably Product Recommendations. It’s challenging in the sense that few WooCommerce store owners search for it directly, but almost everyone can benefit from using it.

As a store owner, I was amazed to see how much of our revenue came from upselling and cross-selling in product pages, and how simple strategies, like featuring our products in category pages, increased the engagement of our customers. To appreciate and understand the value of product recommendations, a store owner must be able to measure their performance. Product Recommendations makes this much more accessible than before, but what you get out of it as a merchant really depends on how much you are willing to invest.

Are there any trends that you see coming in the WooCommerce/eCommerce space?

The time we are living in is a very unusual one: COVID-19 is forcing us all to innovate and change the way we live and work. Small businesses that manage to see the end of this tunnel will figure out ways to offer their services online. For many, the transition has already taken place: Taking piano lessons online was unthinkable, until recently.

What will you not buy online and still need to get in-person. And why?

There nothing I wouldn’t buy online. A few local shops I love don’t have an online storefront yet, though. I’m doing all I can to bring them to the bright side!

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