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Insights and Perspectives on the State of the Woo

Insights and Perspectives on the State of the Woo
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Two weeks ago, the virtual conference WooSesh shared two days of invaluable learning for WooCommerce builders. To kick it off, there was a presentation from WooCommerce, aptly named, State of the Woo.

To introduce the new addition to the Do the Woo podcast, Woo Perspectives, I asked my co-hosts Brad Williams, Jonathan Wold and Mendel Kurland to join me for this introspective chat. Unlike the Thursday episodes of Do the Woo, every other Tuesday, Woo Perspectives brings thought-provoking conversations around WooCommerce and its ecosystem.

Of course, one of my co-hosts, Mendel, had to throw in an extra curveball at the beginning and end with his own topic. The first was the fact that WooSesh was only available post-event behind a paywall. And the second, totally unrelated, was about inventory and WooCommerce.

But as a co-host, I let him get away with it this time ­čśë

What We Talked About

First off, Mendel brought up a couple of things we wanted to talk about:

  • WooSesh and post-event access to the videos.
  • The diversity of the Automattic team on the State of the Woo.

I shared three audio snippets for my guests to give their own thoughts on.

  • Allen Smith, Developer Advocate shared the results of a survey that gave us a clearer picture of who a WooCommerce developer is.
  • Elizabeth Pizzuti talks about what is coming to the WooCommerce home screen for vendors and their own onboarding for site owners.
  • Alana Weinstein dives into the marketplace and improvements for vendors there.

And to close it out, Mendel brought up a final discussion around the current state of inventory and expense management for inventory in WooCommerce.

The State of the Woo on YouTube

If you would like to see the State of the Woo from WooSesh, you can watch it on YouTube here.

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You can get access to all the WooSesh videos as well as all the other great content on WPSessions plus get 60% off using the coupon code: DOTHEWOO here.


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The Conversation

Hey, everybody. BobWP here. You are maybe, or maybe you're not looking at us. This is a new perspective on "Do the Woo Podcast," where I bring in two to three people that are a lot smarter than me and... well, you know, there's always those special cases. But most of the time, I bring in two to three people that are a lot smarter than me and we just talk about two or three topics in the Woo space. I'm simply here to get them talking. You won't hear me talk a lot, except at the beginning and end. Yeah, it's just get their insights or perspectives. Just kind of go from it. And I'm going to... we're going to actually go around a particular subject area this time, which I'm going to dive into as soon as I thank our sponsors.

WooCommerce.com, if you're looking for, you know, a career in WooCommerce, you wanna use all your Woo talents. Go to DoTheWoo.io, just click on Jobs and there's actually three very cool jobs there right now, so. We'll be building that out, there'll be more people, more agencies, more people advertising in that, putting up job listings so check that out.

And PayPal, that is our newest sponsor. They just recently were on the podcast last week and might want to listen in. They have the Pay in 4 for excellent... Well, this is almost a nobrainer and Brad, who's here, he said that actually on Twitter today. What it allows you to do as a merchant or your clients if you're a builder, is to have people break up their purchase in four payments. Four equal payments every two weeks. No interest, no risk on you as a merchant, no risk on you as a builder. Suggesting that your client do this. PayPal takes all the risk so it's a pretty sweet deal. So check that out. You can go to Paypal.com, look for Pay In Four. We are going to move right along. Well, I'm going to first, I'm going to have my esteemed guests, which you know they're esteemed in a sense that they're also voices you're very familiar with, my cohost. With that, I kick off "Woo Perspectives" with my cohost and I'm gonna have them go around do a quick intro just because some of you may still not know them. Or at least, now you can, if you're watching the video, tie a face with a name. Brad, why don't you start?

Sure. I am Brad Williams, the original cohost of "Do the Woo." Just remember that when you hear from these other guys after me. During the day, I am the CEO and cofounder of Web Dev Studios, WordPress design and development agency. So we have a lot of experience building out ecommerce sites specifically with WooCommerce. So happy to be here, Bob.

Cool. How about you, Mendel? Who are you?

Well, actually, when you were saying esteemed, I was just thinking, "I'm mostly esteemed "in Austin when it gets hot during the summer." Sorry, I couldn't help it. You know what? I am, I don't know what number in the birth order I am for hosts, but I don't care because we're all great. And I'm a WooCommerce advocate for agencies at Nexcess, a liquid web company. So that's what I do. I help agencies be successful with WooCommerce. That's it.

Good job, good job. You do a good job of it, too. How about you, Jonathan? I know you work for somebody we all know and love.

I'm Jonathan Wold, I lead community initiatives at WooCommerce. Which can mean any number of things but a lot of my time and energy is focused on supporting the existing WooCommerce community and helping it grow in our global and our local spaces.

Cool. Alrighty, well, all three of you I don't know if all three of you, but couple of weeks ago, WooSesh did... WooSesh was online, virtual conference. A yearly, very cool event. Two days of a lot of Wooness. It was focused on primarily builders and one of the things they started out with was state of the Woo. So I thought what would be fun is to go in and grab three snippets from that, three audio snippets, and just lay it on these three guys and play them and have them, you know, talk about it a little bit. And they went over a lot of stuff in the state of Woo so we're covering very little. You can go over to WooSesh, join their membership over there, and actually get WooSesh, and all the other things, videos from WP Sessions. So you might check that out if you want to hear it. And I think there's going to be as few scattered videos on Woocommerce.com, and I don't know if there's anywhere else but a few of them, they're going to be putting out free that you can listen to. First one I want to play is from Alan Smith, the Developer Advocate over there

Hey, Bob, before you start that, I want to bring some controversy into this conversation. Are you okay with that?

Okay, I'm fine with that. So, what do you want?

So I attended a WooSesh and I thought it was awesome, as I'm sure everybody on this podcast did. I found a couple of things interesting and I wanted to get everybody else's take on it. Number one, State of the Woo. Awesome. It was super cool. Lot of new, cool stuff coming. I thought it was interesting that it was in the walled garden of WooSesh, rather than a public forum, or a more public forum.

Number two, I thought it was interesting and quite cool I'm gonna give a little bias to this quite cool that there was such a diverse group of people that were presenting pieces of State of Woo, unlike State of the Word, which is primarily done by Matt. Which nothing negative about that, just thought it was kind of cool that there were multiple groups. So I'm just curious what everybody else thought about the format and the way this information was disseminated.

I'm gonna go to Brad first because I have a lot

Whatever you said, Jonathan, but.

Yeah, I got plenty I can say.

Yeah, I mean, overall, I think it's... The idea of WooSesh and WordSesh. For those of you that don't know, I was one of the original organizers that helped with WordSesh when it was first started however many years ago. I'm not involved anymore, but I used to be. So it is near and dear to my heart. I mean, obviously virtual events are very common now, right? But WordSesh was originally founded on the idea of being a virtual event that anyone in any time zone could attend. It was originally 24 hours for that very reason, right?

So not everyone had to be forced into U.S. working hours or whatever that looks like. Now they've changed that a bit, but understandably because that was a bit difficult to run as an organizer for 24 hours straight. So overall, the idea of like it's just another virtual event, I guess. Some people might look at it that way, but the fact is it's been doing this for much longer than just this year, right? This was like, the first, really big WordPress virtual event out there, in terms of WordSesh and then WooSesh kind of stemmed from that. So I love the format of that, being online. It's very accessible to anybody. I believe, correct me if I'm well no, it was free for everyone while it was live, which is cool. I definitely get your point, Mendel specifically, around the State of Woo.

Now that it's past, my understanding is you have to pay to get access to it. I do think that particular presentation should probably be opened up outside of the pay wall just because of it's important to the whole, you know, community, builders, users of WooCommerce that they have access to that without having to necessarily pay. But there's just a lot of great content. Like, I like the diversity of the speakers, I like for the State of the Woo specifically and just the whole event, right? There's just some really intelligent, smart people here talking about some really interesting things. So I mean, overall, I think it was an amazing event. But I understand the point you're making

To be clear, I'm not knocking the event at all. I thought the event was killer. And I'm not even actually knocking anything, I'm just posing the question out there.

All right, so I'll jump in on that. I was responsible for programming and sort of making sure that things went smoothly for WooSesh this year on our side. I hadn't thought about it too much, but I agree, it does bug me a little bit, too. Let me say this. First, it's important that we like, WooSesh is a community event that we're sponsoring and supporting, right? So that was part of where all this starts from is like, I think Brian, Patrick, I love what they're doing, we wanna support it. Ultimately, like we were even a little bit uncomfortable with this idea of calling it like, the State of the Woo because you know, there's historic precedence, it was fine at the end of the day, but we do see us like doing more of our own things in the future. At the same time, it's really important to us to support and be involved in community initiatives.

As far as the content itself, I'll talk to Brian about it afterwards, we've only touched on it briefly. My preference would be for like, that particular piece to just be publicly available. If for some reason he doesn't wanna do it, I'll make a version of it 'cause it was all prerecorded so I can stitch something else together. Yeah, I love what they're doing and for us, great opportunity to support something that's happening. The content, though, is something that we'd want to be available. Very happy to support the business model but for that particular piece, the intent has been to make it available. Just a matter of what's the best way to do that?

Right. And I love the fact that there's very popular and really valuable events that are not spearheaded by automatic, to be honest. Because not everything has to be and I think people kind of generally fall in that rut of well, if it's... you know, if automatic's not involved, like, does it really should we do this? But I think that's a good thing, right? Like, to an extent, I think it's a good thing that it's not all coming from automatic, it's communitydriven in a sense.

So I definitely like that. And that's one of the reasons I've always liked things like WordSesh and WooSesh, and even some of the other events like like PressNomics and some of those other ones in years past that were very valuable events, really great events, but they weren't under that automatic umbrella. Or at least the over 'cause word camps aren't necessarily automatic ran, but they are being overseen by you know, some components of automatic so... And for good reason. But I like a mix. It should not all be coming from one company or fall on one company, right? It should be the community. And this is a good example of it, so.

[Jonathan] I agree.

I would go as far as to say that this was... and granted, I didn't see all of the virtual events for WordPress and WooCommerce this year. But I would say that this was the best content and delivery of the content that I've seen at a virtual event all year. Which I totally appreciated because as a WooCommerce professional and WordPress professional, having something captivate me and pull me into the screen all day long for two days, that's surprising, right? 'Cause I run away from the screens these days. So yeah, it was cool.

Cool. Well, wait 'til you see the Do The Woo Conference. You know, it's... Well, I haven't told you three about that yet, but. No, just kidding. Anyway, so thank you for that, Mendel, little bit of interjection there. That was a good segue into it. Going back to what I was going to play, just to remind you, and I could just surprise you anyway, but it is Alan Smith, a question they had asked developers. So let's listen into this and then I'm going to have your feedback on this.

[Alan Soundbite] So who are Woo developers? In July of this year, we sent out a survey to folks who selfidentify as quote, unquote, "WooCommerce developers," and I'll tell ya, we learned a lot. What we learned is that WooCommerce developers are not just developers. We asked people this question, "How do you use WooCommerce? "How do you interact with WooCommerce on a daily basis?" And we learned all sorts of interesting things. For instance, 75% of people who build or extensions, they also build and maintain stores for merchants. And vice versa, 70% of the people who build stores for merchants also build and maintain extensions or plugins. There's a certain subset of people who are theme developers out of that group as well, but what I think is really interesting is if you'll notice the overlap between the people who build a maintain stores, the people who build and maintain plugins, they, themselves are also store owners. So these are people who have direct experience not just with merchants that they build for, but they have direct experience as a merchant themself.

So. Talk amongst yourselves. No, let's start with... I'm going to start with Brad. And I think what I want is to, you know, how do you concur with this as far as, you know, you're an agency, all three of you work with agencies, you work with developers, you know other developers, does this kind of jive into what you're seeing? And any thoughts on why that may be happening or why you see this more diverse and not pigeonholed developer definition?

Yeah. The stats are very interesting, right? 70% of devs who build stores also build extensions. You know, that one, I think is a little more, maybe a little more obvious, you know? And on our side, we're an agency, we build stores, we build extensions, right? So I guess we would fall into that particular bucket. This goes back The first thing I thought about when I started hearing that is when you talk a WordPress developer in general, that means a very different thing than just a developer or a programmer. And on the surface, it may not, or you may not be thinking that, but as someone who's hired a lot of developers over the years, it absolutely does.

And I think this probably falls into that kind of bucket, where a developer, when you say WordPress developer or even WooCommerce developer, it doesn't just line up with what traditionally people think of this like, hardcore, you know, just writing code, you know, expert at PHP level type of person. Yes, those do fall into that category, but it also is hobbyists fall in that category, or would consider themselves maybe a WooCommerce developer by installing and configuring a bunch of plugins and setting up a store, right? Same way with a WordPress developer. We see someone says, "I'm a developer," and we start digging in their experience and realize well, they're good at setting up, you know, putting a bunch of plugins together, configuring those plugins, and getting things to work from that sense. Which that does take a talent and a skill. It doesn't necessarily mean they're a developer in the sense of how we would traditionally think of it of actually writing code, building extensions, working with APIs, you know, really getting into the zeros and ones of it all.

So I guess when I hear stats like that, that's kind of what I think about these terms of developers in our community and our space with WordPress, with WooCommerce. I think they're much bigger like, bubbles of people than we might traditionally think of. And I think maybe that's kind of the point we're hearing here is you know, a builder, the fact that they have that many builders also running stores I think is pretty fascinating. And I'd be curious to hear stats like that on other platforms because I bet that's not really the case with things like Shopify and stuff. I bet it's really because of WooCommerce and specifically because of the open source nature of the projects. Maybe, who knows? But that's kind of what I was thinking as soon as I heard that clip.

How about you, Mendel? You know, kind of coming from the hosting and dealing with a lot of different developers, agencies, et cetera.

Yeah. You know, if you're an agency, you eventually come across a situation where you need to customize something that you can't customize out of the box. Right? And so, I think... like as far as agencies go, I would say that almost 100% of agencies, once they reach a certain level of business, are always going to be a plugin, addon, custom code developer. So that's on one side.

On the other side, if you've ever hired a plumber or an electrician to come to your house, you can find plumbers that are not certified, that they know how to put pipes together. And they might be really good at it. They might not follow every safety protocol. They might not have experience under their belt that teaches them that putting a pipe in one part of the house, you shouldn't use that same type of pipe in the other part of the house, right? And then you have plumbers that are like, masters at their craft, right? They have like, 62 different certifications and they build, you know, complex systems, and they can do commercial, and all sorts of stuff, right? Plumbers and developers or electricians and developers are very similar because I would argue that a plumber that doesn't have a certification or a base level of information is a different type of plumber than a commercial plumber, right? Like, there are many different types. And I think that developers are very much the same way. You can call yourself a developer the second you learn one line of code. And that's fine, and that's valid, and it's awesome.

It's also important to realize that when everybody calls themselves a developer, that you have to look for the nuance in what that definition is for them. And I think that that's what we're seeing in some of these numbers as well, is, you know, if you know, somebody that has hacked a little bit of code in the core, that person's a developer, right? And if you know somebody that's built a you know, a headless interface... or an interface for headless WordPress or WooCommerce for an enterprise, like Disney or somebody like that, that's a developer. And so, knowing what those grades are or what those definitions are is important and I would love to see... I would love to see some data on that in the future because knowing that would help us level up people from one... from being one type of developer.

You know, maybe a new developer or developer that doesn't code within the WordPress or WooCommerce standards to becoming a, you know, a developer that does, you know, runs tests and does things according to, you know, the scaffolding that is suggested within the projects and things like that so. Yeah, it's super interesting. I'm not surprised by the numbers, but I do think that the industry as a whole, whether it's WordPress, or WooCommerce, or Magenta, or whatever, deserves a little more rigor in those classifications and numbers so that we can understand who's building on our projects.

Cool. Now, Jonathan, what's your thoughts on this?

I had a lot of thoughts. Two are standing out. So, one of the first things that I focused on I've just now passed a year in this role. One of the first things I focused on, especially with our meetups program is putting more and more of our emphasis on store owners and merchants, the entrepreneurs versus developers, while at the same time acknowledging that it's... kind of, there's a continuum there, right?

Like, I think because of Woo's open source nature, a lot of folks will say "I want to build a store," and then they get into it, they do something for themselves I know a number of folks who've done this And then they end up becoming a developer, they enjoy it, and they'll do more for others and go from there. So on the one hand, like, I think one of the things that we're working hard to do at Woo, like overall, is make more and more of what we do be focused on what's best for the store owner. And like, how do we make the user experience easier? Et cetera.

This point of differentiation, it's really interesting. So part of this idea of calling... you take the term "builder," for instance, there's a lot of flexibility inherent in that term because there can be someone who is not using any code and they can be building a Woo site for clients, which I think is fantastic and really important to the future of this ecosystem. And then when it comes to the extensions, though, you know, and doing more complex things or the fact that Woo is growing in the enterprise. Like there's a different set of needs and capability required there. So, one of the things that we're working on and have been for a bit is the... is figuring out what does the next version of the Woo Experts program look like? And I think that's where there is a particular opportunity, is to offer this... there's a number of things that were changing about it. One is to remove the pay structure entirely so that there's not any sense of like, pay for play happening. But, I think there's an opportunity there for there to be this sort of standard around this idea of art. You're a Woo expert and there's some expectations that come with that, whatever that looks like.

There's some opportunity there that I'm excited to see us explore further and get more input on. And I think if we can have some clear lines of demarcation, that without putting like, an optin versus like, a negative, right? Where it's like people can, who want to grow and want to get better can sort of distinguish themselves further. So I think there's some opportunity there and I'm excited to see us explore that.

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Alrighty, cool. Well, home screen. WooCommerce home screen. One of the things they talked about is the changes to that, what's kind of happened, and then they talked about version two, which is going to be the next phase. One specific part that Elizabeth had spoke on was some of the features that are coming to the vendors, the plugin developers as far as onboarding people and you know how WooCommerce onboards. So I want to play this. And she just goes over a few of these features, I want to kinda get your thoughts on this. She's already talked about it, she's leading into, and these are the features for some of the vendors.

[Elizabeth Soundbite] One of the things that I definitely want to touch upon is extensibility. So ways that extensions can plug into the home screen. Number one, are in the setup tasks. So once an extension is installed, the extension author can trigger a setup task that could help the merchant with onboarding to the extension or other things. Another area where extensions can plug in is in the store management car. So there's a section here for extensions. Lastly, extension authors also have the possibility of sharing information with merchants via inbox messages.

Okay, that is it. That is it. So that gives you an idea of what home screen 2.0 is going to be happening as far as, yeah, having a little bit more for the vendors as far as what they're putting in there or when people add stuff. So, Mendel, I'm going to start with you. Your thoughts on that?

I love the inbox. I think it's super cool. I love the direction all of this is going in. The one question that I should probably raise in the WooCommerce Slack is you know, will there be the opportunity for organizations that might have a slightly different onboarding process to change the onboarding messages, rather, not the onboarding messages, the default messages that exist as soon as you turn on WooCommerce? I think in some cases, it can lead to more confusion if there's a slightly different onboarding process or there are new technologies that are augmenting and making the experience WooCommerce better. But overall, I think it's awesome. I think that notifications have been the sore spot in WordPress as a whole. And I think this is a good step in the right direction.

Cool. Let's swing over to you, Jonathan.

I remember seeing the preview for the first time. We did an early, sort of design call for feedback, which I've really liked. It's been a pretty open, transparent process. And I was a little bit, a little shocked at first. I've been in WordPress for such a long time and you get used to the way that things are. So I, you know, even... like I had to take a moment like, "Okay, this is pretty different." But as I started to watch the feedback and as I sat with it a bit, I showed it off to just like, some store owners at my local meetup and just began to gather feedback. And just seeing how positive the reactions were and the focus on how do we make this user experience more straightforward, less intimidating, lower the barrier of entry, like, that's the right focus, my own sort of initial reactions aside. As I sat with it longer, I really liked the direction.

There's a tension there to navigate, to Mendel's point, about how you balance well, first, just the frank reality that this is an open source project. And if someone doesn't like something, they could figure out a way to do something and to get around it. That's just a fact. But we want to force people into that position. So how do you balance this like, guided, curated, more userfocused experience that's designed to help more merchants succeed with giving people flexibility to do things that frankly, you can't anticipate? Which is the beauty of extension. So it's going to take iteration and feedback. I have a lot of confidence in the team working on it and their just desire to get input and make it the best that it can be in consideration of all the possibilities. It's going to continue to be a process, though. And I think like, Mendel's point's a great one, there are folks who are going to take Woo and WordPress and create different types of onboarding experiences and we want to give them the ability to do that. So Mendel, I think to your point, I would just make sure that you raise it loudly and that it's recognized and...

I usually don't have a problem with loud.

Yeah, we know that. Yeah, for sure. Brad, how about you?

Yeah, I mean, you know, overall, I like it. I like the fact it's just enabled for everybody now with the latest release. Everything with WordPress extensibility is always, you know, should be at the forefront 'cause that's the whole core of WordPress and why it's so popular is that you can... you know, anyone that has the ability, developers either that they work with or themselves that they can do it, can customize these things, you know, to their needs. I think to me, it's definitely a step in the right direction, it's a step forward. I mean, to your point, Jonathan, like, change is always weird, right? Like anytime something you're used to seeing changes, like, the initial reaction, I think for everybody is skepticism, I guess, is probably the best way to put it. I'm seeing it now with like Facebook, everyone's been, you know, in the last few months everyone's been getting a new Facebook. And I enabled it like six or eight months ago and I was like, "Well, this is terrible." I was like, "But I'll stick with it 'cause I know that's probably "just my initial reaction," and now I don't really care, you know? It's fine. The, the way

I look at this... the home screen, you know, the dashboard, or whatever you want to call it, like, this is... It's kinda like that first impression thing for new users especially, right? Like, when you look at a dashboard for an ecommerce platform, WooCommerce or otherwise, like, that's kind of your initial impression of like, what you're going to see as a store owner. This is where I'm going to live. Like, how do I feel about the way this looks, you know? Is this giving me the information I need? Is it overwhelming? Is it underwhelming? Is it right in that sweet spot? And it's gonna be different for everybody, but it's certainly a better experience right out of the gate, I think, than what was there previously, right?

And the fact that, you know, Jonathan, I think you made the point of we've gotta iterate, like, you know, it's getting the new version out there, getting people comfortable with it, getting extension developers onboard to, you know, hook their extensions into it in a way that's thoughtful for their users and not just, you know, pushing upsell messages or whatever, but actual good data that a store owner would need to see, is just gonna make it that much better. So I think it's absolutely the right direction to go. And it looks great. Like, I think it's just a really clean experience and gets you the data that you wanna see right there on your dashboard. So I'm excited to see where this is gonna end up in a year, a couple years from now is it's not only the dashboard and home screen grows, but the extensions really start taking advantage of it. That's where I think we're gonna really see the power of it.

Alrighty, well, we are on to the last one here and this is the marketplace. And I thought this was interesting because I know personally I get asked a lot and see people asking out there, you know, "Oh, should I put my extension on the marketplace or not?" And I've always, you know, I know from experience with as much traffic I get on my other site, BobWP.com, that it's a trusted place. Now, they're adding several benefits to the marketplace so I believe it was Alana was talking about it. And she got to a point where she pretty much laid out, it's a couple minutes here, but it's all the different things that now are gonna be available for vendors when they, you know, put their extension on the marketplace. I just thought it was interesting and want to get your feedback on that. But this is a couple minutes long so we'll play this one here.

[Alana Soundbite] So firstly, we'd like to make our onboarding experience a lot smoother and more efficient. We'll be building out an onboarding wizard that will allow us to automate and streamline this process and we'll be providing a lot more granularity into the reporting in the dashboard as well. So a big one here will be a Google Analytics integration, which I know is a highly requested feature. And this will give you insights into your product page performance. And not only that, we'll be utilizing this increased granularity in the metrics to offer up smart suggestions to better your product page performance overall and to surface potential marketing and promotional opportunities in the marketplace.

We'll also be delivering feedback from merchants directly to you as a vendor within the dashboard. This will include things like ratings and reviews, net promoter score, customer satisfaction score, access to refund reasons, which I know is a big one for many of you, and the feedback portal, which I keep alluding to and we'll dive into next. So now, I'll finally dive into the merchant feedback portal. So we're super excited to announce that we're bringing a feedback portal to the marketplace to open up the feedback loop and to better connect merchants with vendors. This is another way that we're hoping to improve upon the ability vendors have to communicate with their users directly. So in the first iteration of this, we'll have links to the feedback portal on product pages, allowing merchants to easily provide feedback to vendors. This will include the ability to comment back and forth and for vendors to provide status updates for features requested. The longer term vision for this includes the ability for a user to subscribe to a request or to follow a vendor's updates, the ability to vote on a request, and for vendors to send messages out to followers.

So with that all said, is it... Now, if you were talking to somebody and they said "Hey, you know, "do you think I should put my extension on the marketplace?" With that in mind, and your own experience, and what you've thought or talked about in the past around the marketplace, what do you think? I'm going to the internal route here first with Jonathan and then we'll head to Mendel and Brad.

I got a lot of thoughts. I think a lot about marketplaces and... First, overall, I love what the team is doing. I think what I love most is just the energy, attention, and care being put into it. We still got a long ways to go, we're still behind in a number of things. More my perspective. But I love the direction, I love seeing the growth, I love that there's... We're taken a much more open approach to it.

Historically, we had this approach that was like, oh, we only want one of each kind of thing. And I don't know, there's something about... For me, a marketplace has lots of choices and there's this appropriate mix of curation guiding people. Like right now, one of the challenges with the plugin directory and WordPress in general is that there's so many options. And anyway, I love this focus on it being usercentered, like how do we get things that are useful? Yet, this conscious, deliberate investment in how do we improve the experience for people creating these extensions? How do we give them more feedback? How do we make it better? So I'm really optimistic. I love the energy and I'm looking forward to seeing how it continues to develop.

Yeah, Brad?

Yeah, I mean, I think it's a good question. It's a tough answer, I think honestly. Like I think the default, the easy answer is, "Yeah, absolutely," right? "Put it in the marketplace." I think for most people, that's probably the right answer. You know, you gotta factor in the net revenue payouts. It's like, what? 60%, if it's exclusive. Meaning that's the only place you sell it, is what you'll pull in from the net revenue and 40% if it's nonexclusive. Meaning you maybe have your own site you sell it on as well as the marketplace.

I mean, in my opinion, if you don't have a name out there, if you're not an established player in the plugin space, trying to promote your own WooCommerce extensions on your own site is gonna be a very long, hard, uphill battle. And so putting it in the marketplace would make a ton of sense because people just don't know you. And even if they find you, are they gonna trust your product, right, if they don't know you? Now, there's a handful of companies out there that, you know, have a reputation, and a name, and a number of products and I think just by them putting something out there, it's instantly gonna be validated and have a ton of customers, but that's few and far between.

So I think by and large for most people, the marketplace does make a lot of sense because it is... if you're exclusive, too, it kind of takes that selfmanagement of your own website and all that stuff off the table to an extent, right? Like, yeah, you might still have a site and you probably should and certainly have some documentation, but in terms of the sales funnel process, in terms of the you know, all of that, that's really taken care of for you, right, through the marketplace there at WooCommerce. And ultimately, that's where you're gonna get the most eyeballs being in the marketplace, you know? And no matter how big your reputation is or how far your reach is, you're never gonna compete with the core product in terms of people seeing it, right? I think for most people, it makes a lot of sense to go in the marketplace. There is a few outliers that maybe they might consider not doing it or doing the nonexclusive option. But I think for most people, they should.

Aright, Mendel, what about, you know this is a little from the hosting perspective because you're kind of looking at it from a different angle and also, you know, is it these different added features what they really add value to the vendor? Yeah, just a few thoughts from you on the whole thing.

Yeah, so often my, my perspective from a hosting perspective is the same as the perspective, you know, from a nonhosting perspective. Because at the end of the day, it's people winning, right? And trust and discovery are the two biggest factors in selling anything online. The marketplace provides that. And I say just do it. And I would even go further and say it's super cool to see an organization focused on the wellbeing of commercial players in the space. Right? That are going to upload their extensions, and try to sell them, and giving a platform.

There are places with far more restrictive requirements or policies. If you have ever sold on eBay, then you know that putting a link to your website in an auction is a really bad idea because it'll get you banned from the entire site, selling. I think it's... I don't see a downside. And even for the people that are, you know, selling like crazy on their own sites, what a great discovery engine. Because new people are being minted every day, right? New builders are being minted every day. And to have a place to hook them on one of your plugins and then, you know, market to them and sell them another plugin directly from your site. Like, it's not an eitheror in my opinion. I think it's great.

I mean, is Mendel talking about selling plugins and extensions or dealing drugs over here? He's talking about like, gateway extensions to get them into your...

Hey, man, WooCommerce is insidious.

[Jonathan] Gateway extensions, no pun intended.

Yeah, exactly.

Who's your sponsor again, Bob? Is it PayPal?

PayPal, yeah.

Is that a gateway extension? Oh man, we're ruining that sponsorship for you.

Yeah, we are, you know? Okay, we rewind here and start over. No, seriously. Well, I don't know if...

I have one more controversial thing to bring up. Can I bring up

Okay, I was gonna say I was gonna say go ahead and do that. Please do.

Okay, it's not actually, it's not that controversial, but I did wanna kinda find out Brad, Jonathan, maybe even Bob, I know Bob's opinion hasn't been in here much but, I want to know what you think about the current state of inventory and expense management for inventory, right? So how inventory is managed in WooCommerce. And then how expenses are calculated. So cost of goods and things like that. If it seems like that should be a third party extension that, you know, augments WooCommerce to handle that in a more sophisticated way? Or if this is something that you think WooCommerce core should approach.

And the only reason I bring it up is because I've seen this in site, after site, after site, you know, integrating with like, Ship Station, right? Or not Ship Station, Trade Gecko and inventory management third party solutions like that. And nothing is as good as native, right? Even if you try and be, so.

I'll speak to that. It's a very challenging tension to navigate. I'd say from our perspective, and this is just sort of my current understanding, which is fairly wellinformed, is this that we're ultimately focused on the quote, unquote, like "happy path" for new merchants. Like, in terms of what we prioritize in Woo, it's how can we lower the barrier of entry further? That's very much in sort of support of the mission, right? At the same time, the strength and power of Woo is the autonomy with which you can like, do what you want and the extensibility.

So I think in general, as we get clearer and clearer on what matters the most to that... to especially to the beginners, I think that's the expectation is extensions are going to take care of those things. Where I hope to see a lot more progress and something I've been passionate about for a while in WordPress, is to really improve what it means to make an extension. Like, let's teach people how to make more native extensions, right, they're far from being equal.

This has gotten a lot better in WordPress in recent years, we're seeing more like, companies come in and build firstclass extensions, we need more of that in Woo. I think the marketplace is really going to help with that. But there's definitely a gap there. And a number of different places where it works, but it often is not the smoothest experience. And I think we'll continue to make the overall experience smoother. And if it comes down that having a better way of dealing with expenses and inventory is something that matters to the majority, then it's going to be something we do in core. If it's not, then it's, how do we make it easier for folks building extensions to build like firstclass experiences that just take care of it and that feel effectively native? That's what we're after.

Yeah, I mean, I've actually talked about this topic on the show with one of the areas I think that I I struggle to recommend WooCommerce is really complex warehousing and inventory type of systems. Is it doable? Sure, but I don't know if the effort's worth the reward when there's other systems that are very much larger, way more complex, way more expensive for, you know, obvious reasons. But I don't think this is something that, to your point, exactly what Jonathan just said, like, if the majority of people need something like this, I don't think the majority of people need, you know, advanced inventory, you know, multiwarehouse tracking capabilities. It'd be interesting to see some stats, but I would bet the majority of WooCommerce users are a much more basic setup, right, when it comes to inventory levels.

I know there was release recently, I forget which version it was, but introduced some enhancements around inventory tracking, like if someone was buying something, it would kind of hold onto that piece of inventory for a period of time so it didn't get double sold. So those advances, I think, are really great in core, but I think you get to the more advanced stuff, I think core is probably not the place for that. It's like having a more advanced like, email marketing system in WordPress core. Like, could it do it? Yeah, but there's companies like, dedicated to that, you know?

Things I think of specifically are things like the small business jewelry maker that, you know, wants to sell online and they also want to sell from their store. And that can be handled, you know, a bunch of different ways, you know, POS integration, or square integration, or whatever, but, you know, part of me wonders when you're a merchant, trying to go into a place to manage a thing, do you go into WooCommerce? Do you go into a third party? Do you go into your POS? Do you go into square? Where do you go, right? So that's the only reason it comes up in my mind. Not something super complex, like, you know, multiwarehouse inventory management and stuff like that. But I also get your point in not complicating things.

Well that's a good example, like, when you have to manage a bunch of different systems, it comes down to like where's the single source of truth for your inventory?

I'm gonna jump on that one because when we think about like, we think about WordPress more and more like an operating system, right? And if you take Woo, like, it's an ecommerce flavor of that, right? Like it's built on WordPress. So overall, when I think of a firstclass, like a first class experience with extension and my guide is to folks building is like bring it into the WooCommerce admin, bring it into WordPress.

Figure out a way to solve that where folks can they can leave if they want to, and I've seen this happen better and better more recently. I like the work that Hub Spot's been doing more recently, bringing more of the elements directly into the admin. But I think that's like, people should be able to get the majority of the things done there and if there's more specialized things that they need to do or just really advanced, then send them off to a different interface, but I feel pretty strongly about that. And I think the ones that succeed the most are the ones that really have a native feeling experience.

Well, all I can add to that is since WooCommerce has been on my site for eight to nine years, we can look at the fact that I've never sold a single physical product. So, I'll just leave it at that, you know? I'm not qualified to answer it because of my sheer neglect to worry about shipping anything from, let alone one Bob WP block that I had in my brain as far as a product to several blocks, so... So, let's leave it at that.

But good point there, Mendel. I can always count on you to throw something into the mixer and I appreciate that. All right, well I think that does it. I think we've talked. We've talked the talk and I hope this gives some indication to what can be expected, which will be, who knows? I mean, episodes of this, this will happen every other Tuesday. If anybody's listening and wants to get on here, if they're, you know, deep into Woo and they want to get on and talk about stuff with a group of other cool guys, or gals, or whoever is on here, I would suggest reaching out to me and letting me know.

Yeah, we're hoping to have and I'm sure, you know, three of these cohosts will occasionally pop in. I know they, you know, I work 'em to death anyway, but they may wander in aimlessly as some point or other. So I appreciate the three of you joining us. And I just want to thank our sponsors again. WooCommerce.com Again, Jobs. Everybody wants a job. Everybody wants to work. Everybody wants money. Wants to make a living in this tough time so check out, DoTheWoo.io under Jobs and you'll see some excellent opportunities there and PayPal. Yes, a gateway extension, as defined as we didn't talk about, or we did talk about. But yes, PayPal. Check out their Pay In Four. Good stuff. Yeah, like, again, no brainer. Wanna get you clients on that or if you're running your own store, you're a developer and you're running your own store, according to statistics, hey, you know, you might wanna put that on there. In fact, I'm gonna put it on for the Doo The Woo friends and see how that goes. So anyway, that's it. Real quick, where can people find all my wonderful cohosts? Brad?

Yeah, find me on Twitter. WilliamsBA.

Mendel?

You can find me on Twitter. At IfYouWillIt. And you can check out Nexcess at NEXCESS dot net.

Cool, Jonathan?

You can find me on Twitter at SirJonathan and some of my writing occasionally on JohnathanWold.com.

Alrighty. Well thanks, everyone, for tuning in to the first "Woo Perspectives" and we will see you in a couple weeks. Of course, you can always tune in to all the Do Woo. 'Til next time.