How WooCommerce Positions Itself as a Viable Choice with Competitors

There are a lot of options with other platforms out there and Clara Lee from WooCommerce answered the question of positioning WooCommerce as the option to choose.

How do you focus on if somebody is wanting to open a store online.

You have the various different options. Shopify, maybe Wix, and WooCommerce. And how does WooCommerce position itself that is becomes a viable and probably more attractive option for the person to choose.

It’s well timed because that’s something we’re very much working on right now from a marketing perspective. We’ve done a ton of qualitative research, interviews with merchants, everyone from someone who is selling 20,000 dollars of nicknacks, to a Caribbean grocery store that runs a three million dollar business. We’ve done a ton of interviews. And I think if I scan our main competitor list, Shopify is the one that, they’ve got a major brand out there.

What I’ve heard anecdotally, and in interviews is, you can’t not check them out. Because they’re just everywhere. You go on Google, you go on YouTube, anyone who’s researching would be aware of Shopify, because they own a lot of ads in that space. They have a ton of content. And so, that’s something that they’ve done a great job at awareness, I would say that.

I would say Wix is something that they’ve done a really strong job at appealing to people who don’t maybe have online ecommerce experience. What I’ve found in interviews is this person tends to be a bit more humble in saying, and one that says “well, I need the templates, I need the structure, I need the guidance, because I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m just trying to sell apple pies, or I’m just trying to sell these baby products that I made in my garage. I want someone else to just give me the structure and I’ll push through it.”

Then we see SquareSpace, which has a unique appeal actually, to people who are very creative and design-minded. They have in some ways, anchored well to sort of a high-end, or an upscale feel. So anyone who sort of in luxury products or premium services might be attracted to that. I acknowledge that from a design perspective, some of their stores are just gorgeous. And so, we’ve got these players that we’re watching out there who have sort of entrenched themselves in some very noticeable, and quickly knowable advantages. I think one thing that comes out in our customer interviews time and time again is, why people love WooCommerce is this ability to customize.

And so, that’s what we’re leaning into right now. Is being able to customize, customization. I think the challenge there, is some types of customization do require skill. They do require a comfort with code, or knowledge of what can be done in the back end. What can be hacked, et cetera. So, there’s a balance there, but we’ve talked to a lot of people who say “this check out screen isn’t what I need it to be,” or “this part of my site, the product catalog just doesn’t work for what I need to be able to express in my locality, and for this type of product.” So, that is something that we’re looking to figure out more tangibly right now.

What about putting it all together to make that first sale?

So one of the benefits of the Woo platform is we don’t charge a start up fee. So if you look at a lot of these other platforms, some of them offer a seven day, or 14 day trial period, and after that you’re being charged for just trying to figure out and set up your store. Some stores are pretty straight forward, and you can set it up and get all of that in the 14 day period. But if this is like a side hustle, or a hobby, or maybe you’re just someone who needs a little bit more time figuring out exactly what you want out of an ecommerce experience, or how to translate your vision into an actual store. You’ll, at some point, start paying for the use of a separate platform.

And so, I do think the absence of upfront fees does make that barrier of entry easier for some people. I would say from a customization standpoint, there’s a lot that can be done. I think a big part of customization is our extensions marketplace. So, that marketplace over time has grown a lot. And the team there is very strategic about their pursuits. What ares, they’re always looking at merchant needs and sort of gaps in terms of what our core platform offers. And they’re literately going and finding the tools that will bridge those gaps.

I just looked at a competitor’s marketplace the other day, and they had something like, I want to say, 8,000 apps. And I just think to myself, well do I trust that every single app here is vetted, and checked, and cleared, and meets a certain standard of quality? I’m not sure, especially since I know how small that team is, that that is happening. In the Woo marketplace, we absolutely have those types of checks.

I think in the future we, not only from a product’s standpoint, but from a marketing standpoint, can do a better job of expressing how one might customize beyond just selecting options that are in our market place. I think that’s a mix of bringing to life in product what some of the most common customizations are, and I think that is hopefully something that can be captured in some of the blocks that we’re continuing to release throughout the year.

I think the other part of that is just content, and education, and “hey, are you looking to do this?” It’s a blog post about if you’re trying to solve a specific problem, and offering up options that range from the package, just click a button and add this now, to I want to add custom code, and I need to do something else.

Being able to customize sets Woo apart

I think that’s definitely an area we want to lean into more, and that’s definitely a place where I can see the builder audience, the developer audience helping really amplify that message, and amplify what can be offered there. Our community is so generative, and productive, and helpful that I’d love for us to all work together in terms of getting that focus and getting that message out there.