All You Need to Know About the WooCommerce Marketplace with Adepeju Oduye

Do the Woo - WooCommerce Podcast, Community and News
Do the Woo - WooCommerce Podcast, Community and News
All You Need to Know About the WooCommerce Marketplace with Adepeju Oduye
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The WooCommerce marketplace is a hub for 150+ developers to see over 650 extensions. There are a lot of wheels that need to run to keep the marketplace a continued source for anyone building and extending their Woo shop.

In this podcast episode we have Adepeju Oduye who is the Business Development Lead for the WooCommerce marketplace returning to join us. This second time around she sits with Ronald Gijsel and his panelists of the Woo Roundtable. With their questions digging deep into several aspects of the Woo marketplace, this proves for a very informative and lively conversation.

A Chat with Adepeju

Ronald, Robbie, Robert and Tonya talk with Adepeju about:

  • What a day looks like behind the scenes at the marketplace
  • When a merchant or a extension builder onboard via the marketplace, who is the the main beneficiary?
  • How to discover the needs and match the merchants needs as a builder
  • Where does a merchant keep on top of what is being added to the marketplace
  • How the marketplace is competing with others who sprung up when the marketplace was closed, and is now more open and competitive
  • What you need to know to join the marketplace as a builder
  • What are all the pieces of the vetting process and is their future plans for streamlining that more
  • How does it work with acquisitions and the competition they might bring to others in the marketplace
  • How does support work with the extensions and their creators
  • The reviews and do builders have the opportunity to reply to the customers
  • How the merchant can trust and have confidence in the products in the marketplace
  • What the panelists think of the marketplace from their professional perspectives

If you would like to listen to more conversation about the marketplace, tune into this chat with Clara Lee.

Connect with Adepeju

Thanks to Our Pod Friends

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Bob: Hey everyone. BobWP and it's episode 130. We're back with the Woo Round Table. If you have an interest in what's going on with the marketplace on woocommerce.com, this is the show for you. So if you've been thinking about being part of the marketplace, or just curious about the behind the scenes, it's all there. So let me quit my blabbing and let's get on with the show.

Ronald: Welcome to this WooCommerce Builder Community Event, the WooCommerce round table with guest Adepeju Oduye.

Every four weeks as part of the the Woo builder events. So this WooCommerce round table is a discussion where we learn what's happening at WooCommerce. And today, we are joined by Adepeju, who works at the marketplace. So we're going to find out so much more detail of how it operates, what you're working towards and also if you've learned anything from mistakes in the past. Obviously, not your mistakes, but other people's mistakes. But I can't do it on my own. There are a few panelists here, also people around the table. First of all, I'm going to welcome Tonya Mork. Tonya, welcome. You are the WordPress Core regular at Automattic. Tell us a little bit short about yourself.

Tonya: Sure. So Hi. I am Tonya. Yeah. And yep. Today's my first time. They've been holding my seat for me to join the round table. Thank you for that, by the way. Let's see. I joined Automattic earlier this year. Before that, I was CTO at a web performance company, before that Head of Engineering at XWP. And I wanted to work full-time in the WordPress Core, so Joseph just said, "Come join us." And so now that's what I do. I work full-time in WordPress Core. I have some experience with WooCommerce. I don't have a lot. So what I bring to the table is, one, the perspective of Core WordPress, and then coming from a background in engineering leadership, I bring strategy and different ways of approaching.

Ronald: Thank you. That's really good. Robert Jacobi, Director of WordPress at Cloudways. Now you spoke at WordCamp Europe this week. How did that go?

Robert: That was fantastic. WordCamp Europe was one of my favorites for a million reasons. It's much more my favorite when it's in person. But it was done splendidly, so I really enjoyed it. The networking was surprisingly good for virtual platform. People were very much engaged, both Q&A sessions as well as tables and the virtual rooms and all that. The team really knocked it out of the park. I was really pleased and impressed.

Ronald: Robbie, owner of OSTraining. Also, you have your own agency in development using different platforms. So again, a view from outside looking in but also from inside looking out. Great to have you here.

Robbie: Thank you.

Ronald: Any news you can share with us, anything you will be working on?

Robbie: It's been crazy busy lately. But yeah, we've got some new courses that are coming out in the WordPress world, and we've got one in the works that'll be WooCommerce related as well. So we're excited about that. I'll go ahead. Since we just talked about WordCamp Europe, I'll also say that WordFest is coming up, everybody. And we're one of the immediate sponsors on that. We're excited about that. It was a great WordFest last time, so we're looking forward to another great WordFest this year.

Ronald: Great. So Adepeju, I know you've been on the podcast with Bob a month or a couple of months ago and very well documented where you came from. You worked at the New York Times. You've also been part of a startup of a RebelMouse, which is a great name, by the way. So you've landed at an Automattic and now as part of the WooCommerce team. A couple of months later, you wake up in the morning. What does your work your day look like? Who do you work with? Who do you communicate with? Give us a snapshot. Paint a picture of what it looks like, what you're doing.

Adepeju: Yeah. The day is never the same, and I like it that way. So my role at WooCommerce, specifically the market base, is I'm Business Development Lead, essentially looking at our inventory, looking at strategically how it can grow, where we have gaps. So that's the outbound side of it. But the inbound side of it too is it's crazy month-over-month, year-over-year since we've opened up how much activity and how much demand we're getting, people who are just submitting. And so being able to review those, you get a few a day that you want to review and make sure that the right ones are getting onboarded. So definitely spend a lot of my time just looking at the marketplace and where we can grow and what are the opportunities and also managing the relationship with our current partners. So at this point we have about 160. Obviously, there are different levels of engagement with certain types just based on who's plugged in or who has certain needs. But definitely managing those relationships, that's all me. So it's fun. It's exciting.

And then on the side of that is thinking strategically about our roadmap and looking at just where else we can go internally and just documenting and having meetings. So there's all of that. But a lot of it is just looking at what's coming and having those conversations with our partners because that kind of feedback for me is super important that I get it and that I'm circulating it internally.

Ronald: That's a steep learning curve too.

Adepeju: I wanted to do it, though. It's the only way to do it. I got to say, I've been having so much fun since I started. What, I think this is nine and a half months. I think I said on the previous podcast that the WordPress-WooCommerce community and the stakeholders, which include our partners, they're not shy. They have an opinion, and they will tell you what. And that's what I appreciate, so no better way to learn than by talking to and having conversations with partners.

Ronald: Yeah. I'm going to start with a first opening question because the marketplace, we've seen it grow from quite an exclusive club to very close to something opening up, 160. 160 extensions or merchants?

Adepeju: No, partner, merchants. When we talk about extensions, that's right now probably at 650 plus. So it's a little over it. I'll get into more of this, but we're definitely in growth mode. And that's to the benefit of our end users, for sure.

Ronald: So the marketplace, who does it serve? Is it WooCommerce? Is it the user? Is it the merchant? When you onboard merchants or new plugins, who do you have in mind as the main beneficiary?

Adepeju: I think it's always important for me to have the end merchant in mind. So obviously, day-to-day is focusing on partners and supporting their businesses. They're building businesses with WooCommerce, but their products definitely have to serve the merchants. We have to see collaboratively that there's a need for a product that they're building. So that's what the submission and review process and the onboarding process is all designed to really make sure that our partners and a new partner that's submitting... They had merchants in mind. They had a need that they're filling in mind when they were creating a product. At the end of the day, you have to make sure that it's something that will be of value to a merchant who's browsing our marketplace.

Ronald: Yeah. Tonya, I know we spoke earlier about it. You have a business background. What's your take on what's happening with the marketplace?

Tonya: I'm very curious about the whole chain because to me, it seems like there needs to be balanced. If there's a need, if a merchant has need, you need product vendors to be able to fill the needs so the need doesn't go unresolved. So it needs to be a great experience across the board for all. So when I'm thinking about it, and that's what we were talking about before the show, was some of the onboarding process then for the product vendors who are coming in. I've got a couple of different questions there. Why don't I go with the first one? We talked about, how are those needs surfaced? For example, if I'm a product vendor and I'm interested in participating, I need to be able to identify this particular need. And I know that I can fill that. Then when I give my effort to submit, then I know that I'm going to be able to get in the marketplace. So what's that matching look like? How do I discover the needs and then match those up?

Adepeju: I think at the end of the day, it's important to understand, first, where WooCommerce in the marketplace is. And Ronald, you alluded to it, that we were for the longest time a closed marketplace and where we were only working with a small handful of vendors, partners, where you're one and done on certain types of products. And we just kept it closed because we almost had to because just for the sake of just quality control. It was new. But really in the past two years, we've made a point to open it up because it made sense. And it aligns with the WordPress value proposition as a whole. We are giving our merchants optionality and the ability to customize their store. So in order to do that, they have to be able to look at products that can help them customize. They have to be able to pick and choose and browse.

So the idea is we are definitely letting in way more product in the marketplace than ever before. That said, that's said, we do have our guidelines, and we try to surface those guidelines. They're public via WooCommerce, our documentation. But in the onboarding flow at the very beginning, we surface these guidelines on this is what the marketplace is, this is who's shopping there, these are the products that we see we need, or these may be are the categories that we have saturation. Here is documentation about. And these are UX documentation and guidelines and themes for extension.

So we try to surface that up as early as possible so people have an idea about whether their products are aligning with where we're trying to grow the marketplace. And even more, with that said, at the end of the day, I look at a submission because we have fields in there that talk about... It's not just what does your product do, and give us a walkthrough. It's, why do you think merchants need this? What was your impetus for building it? What are the key features that it includes so that we know that you did your due diligence? And you're basically convincing me and whoever's looking at submission that this serves a need that is not explicitly outlined in our guidelines.

And I love being open to seeing a submission where I'm just, oh, this is really cool. And oh, they saw that there was a need for this by seeing how many Google search results there are for this particular search term. I love that. So in that way, I'm being educated every day, I would say.

Robbie: Awesome. Tonya, I'm going to let you get back to your other part of your question too. But I'd like to skip ahead too because I want to talk about end user because just like you said, there's 600 and something. As that end user, how do I find what's new? Are there emails I should subscribe to? Are there places I could go online where I can get here's the latest? Where can I get that information so that I can... If things are coming in that quickly too, how do I stay on top of this as an end user?

Adepeju: Totally. And that's the thing too. There's so much, there's so many launches, so many great products. And to a certain extent, it has to be a bit self-selecting. As a marketplace in the past, over the past year, we've done a lot to improve the algorithm so we're really surfacing the right product to the right user at the right time. But based on what they're searching for, based on how they've navigated WooCommerce.com, what they're searching for in the back end. So that personalization layer has been a big focus over the last year. So it's maybe that organic search.

But when you talk about what we're pushing, we do have newsletter and you can sign up throughout WooCommerce.com or in the marketplace just to get things like staff picks or what's new with Woo in terms of recent launches or initiatives. And within the marketplace homepage, just we also surface those staff picks and also just selections, recommendations on collections. And if you're building this type of store, then you might want to think of these products. So we try to do a bit of that curation as well. But for the most part, as our marketplace over because there's much out there. There's so many different marketplaces, and we're not even talking about between WooCommerce and Shopify. There are so many environments where you can find WooCommerce products. We really strive to have the marketplace be a place where there's more trust, more security, more quality. That's the balance of it all. We push, but it's also a self-selecting process as well. And then we try to have that level of curation from the very beginning.

Ronald: Do you think that as a result of a WooCommerce having that closed marketplace that you have various other marketplaces popping up getting quite big and strong because WooCommerce used to be so close? And is this now a reverse reaction to that and take the opportunity back, building up your own market marketplace?

Adepeju: Yeah. I think there may be a little bit of that. At least I don't see it as a necessarily missed opportunity. And I don't necessarily think that it's an industry where these different marketplace can coexist. I actually love being able to see what's doing well, what's not. They have that history of products elsewhere, so you could get to see what's actually really working well and what's trending. So at the end of the day, I just see it all working together. But at the end of the day, yes, it is being able to position the marketplace [inaudible 00:13:16]. Maybe a bit more curation. Maybe a bit more strategic in how we grow, where we grow. But again, it's amazing to me how it all can work together and serve different purposes for different audiences.

Robert: And I'm so thrilled that Woo is realizing the opaque nature of what used to be the process. I'm very curious. If I have a new extension, what are those metrics that I need to hit to get on the list? What's the buy-in? What's the commission, all these dirty secrets in the background about what does it really take to be part of the marketplace?

Adepeju: I'll stress this again, but it really has become a self-selected marketplace, where I talked, again, about the algorithm and what gets surfaced when. We now have pulled in ratings and reviews as part of that algorithm. We pull in just search data. So at the end of the day, and I'll go back to the question, but if you're not doing what you're supposed to do, the audience who is shopping the marketplace will let you know one way or another. Being open means there is more competition. You have to be on your toes. As someone who has a product in the marketplace, you don't just rest on your lower. So you have to stay on your toes. And that's, I think, always great for the marketplace in general. But in terms of how to get into club Woo ...

Robert: Sure. Let's call it club Woo.

Ronald: I think just starting they need to pronounce your name correctly. I think that's the key.

Robbie: That's step number one to submit.

Adepeju: You have to submit a voice recording.

So first and foremost, I don't see a submission until it goes through our linter, until it goes through code review. I only look at it once it says that it has passed code review. So I think that is step one, is we have our code standards built into the linter. A lot of time, a vendor, a partner will have to go through a couple of steps or a couple of revisions until it's approved on the coding side. And then once that happens, there's a business review. And a lot of that, probably 90% of that, I'm looking at. And I'm seeing what you included in your responses when you were submitting the application. What is the need for this? What can you tell me about the demand? I'll look through the backend demo as well as how it looks on the front end, just the video. The submission process is designed, really, to be this straightforward. There is a bit of do we really need this or consideration of if we have a saturated category, whether it makes sense to accept this. But it really is your code has to be up to snuff, you have to have some rationale behind your product and it has to look good in terms of how it was designed for back end and the front end.

So yeah. I should also say that we expect partners to manage support at the end of the day and manage product updates. So they're in charge of that. And so that's part of the agreement of becoming a marketplace vendor, is that you take on those responsibilities as well.

Robbie: And you said that you guys are improving the algorithms and you're getting a lot of metrics. Do you feed back those metrics every month or at some point to those vendors so they know where do they fall in the rankings and things like that so they can try and improve?

Adepeju: So we do have our partner dashboard. So every partner that comes through, they have a partner dashboard where they can look at just the number of subscriptions and revenue for their products. And to your point, though, Robbie, it is on us to be able to surface the data back to our partners so that they're learning about how they need to be better. And to that end, we've built out, particularly between over last year and this year, a very robust roadmap that includes a lot of updates to particularly the partner dashboard and the partner experience. That includes surfacing more actionable data, listing the refund reasons, providing more data around the traffic to their product pages, listing where they stand or giving them a score on customer service, giving them more insight there so they understand how they're performing within the partner ecosystem.

And that's something we've seen over time, again, feedback from partners and just understanding what's going on in industry. That's something that we just have prioritized for the last year. Rolling out some initial updates, but more to come this year. But that's very exciting for our partners existing and new who are coming on board. It's definitely on us too, I think, in terms of what also differentiates the Woo marketplace from other marketplaces or what the expectation is. We have the expectation to provide guidance. I see myself and then the broader marketplace team as facilitators. We are helping to facilitate your business. So we have to make sure we're providing the tools to enable you. It's a two-way street. It's a two-way contract, I see it. And so we have to make sure we're doing what we can to make sure your business or the part of business that lives on the marketplace has a fair shot.

Robbie: Yeah. If they can't fix it, they don't know what's broken.

Adepeju: Totally. And I have two examples in the past few months where ahead of us being able to surface refund reasons, manually I provided just what I could gather. And the way one of our partners was able to leverage that and take action and turn it around and was so proud of the fact that 30 days after there were no refunds, that's when you know that if you give the right information, they will take it and run. So it's on us to do that, to provide that.

Tonya: One of the things I was thinking about was the vetting process from submission and getting that through would be intensive, right? There's a lot of legs to it. I'm wondering, do you foresee or are there things in the roadmap, a future state to where that self-check can be moved somewhat to the vendor before they submit so that they can go through and run the linters and so on? Is there something in the plan that you're foreseeing?

Adepeju: They actually can run the linter locally, and we have that in documentation. But to your point, one of the things that was noted probably in the last few months was that it is buried. It is not, I guess, as surfaced as it should be. As part of our roadmap initiative, we're looking at onboarding, how to make it flow better. That's definitely one of the things that we say, "Oh, we can surface this better because that way, once they get into the formal submission process, they've done the due diligence, they run the linter and they can just drop it. And the back and forth doesn't have to be as long." And that helps us too. That means we're also getting our products in better. So in the spirit of trying to minimize the onboarding times, that becomes super useful. But that's a great question because it is something that we noticed was buried probably in a very specific area. Could be extremely useful if we surfaced that more prominently.

Tonya: It's going to be less load on the team too as it comes from that. We'll have a better fit before it comes in to even see, no, you're in a saturated market, yep, this is a known need, those types of metrics that can be analyzed before that self-check, before you even submit to make sure.

Adepeju: Yep. I do see a lot of potential partners and vendors who put in a support ticket and just say, "Hey, this is not the right area, but before we send it to the marketplace, can we make sure you run this idea by someone?" So I totally get that because even before you build something, you want to make sure it works. But again, that said, when you're building for the marketplace, the way our terms are, I like to think that we provide the utmost flexibility or as much flexibility as we can for in effort, in indifference to or in an understanding that our vendors, and especially on WooCommerce, they have different options, different places where they can submit and launch their extensions or their products.

So we have exclusive terms but also non-exclusive terms. We don't want to necessarily box anyone in. You can have an exclusive product in the marketplace. Your next one could be non-exclusive. So we like to keep that flexibility because, again, we understand that we're an open source platform. There are different marketplaces. Again, you're building a business, so we want you to be as flexible in promoting and striving for excellence for your business as possible.

Tonya: Well, that's good because it does serve that end market or merchant through to know that you've got high quality folks in there that are providing products that can serve their needs, which we think is that balance that we talked.

Robert: You mentioned the terms. What do those look like? If people aren't thinking about that, is it worth their while fixed time and cost into going through the process if they're only going to get 10% back? I'm making up numbers obviously, but I'm hoping you can actually provide more context around this.

Adepeju: No, and this is our guidelines. Our split, when we talk about exclusive, it's a 60/40 split, 40% take rate to Woo. If you're non-exclusive, it's flipped, where it's a 60% take rate to Woo. And what we're doing is we're constantly looking at those terms and seeing whether that still makes sense, but that's definitely what it is now. And again, our partners, when they submit, they make that choice in whether they want to keep it exclusive or open it up.

Robert: And then what happened when you maybe acquire a partner that starts competing with the other partners? I'm looking at MailPoet as an example. MailPoet was acquired earlier this year and is a competitor some degree with the Klaviyos, the MailChimps, Constant Contacts. How does that affect the partner relationship?

Adepeju: I think it's, again, an understanding that this is an open marketplace. It's an open marketplace, and it's a case-by-case basis. If there are agreement terms that were set then need to be revised, then fine. But for the most part, it's an open marketplace. Merchants will flock to what works best for them, and we don't try to control that. We're not going to kick somebody out because all of a sudden we acquired MailPoet. That's just not how we roll.

Making a decision about certain bets they want to take and what makes sense for the teams that are in place. But it's not why we acquired, and that means that it doesn't make sense for us to be working with MailChimp. That would just be nuts on our end. But it's absolutely, Robert, a valid question. It's something I think about because a lot of times when people talk about a marketplace, in theory, yes, it's open practices. Behind the scenes, does it really makes sense? Or are we practicing what we preach? For sure.

Adepeju: And you talk to different people in different areas, there'll differing opinions, but at the end of the day in terms of the marketplace, our goal is to keep that open and just being able to have the options or our merchant. Our merchants, when you talk about it, there are going to be reasons why they go to MailPoet versus MailChimp and vice versa. So it's like it's our job to be able to house or introduce the best products in the marketplace or the ones that make sense.

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And now let's head back to the show.

Robbie: So we've talked a lot about the onboarding and your quality control that you've got in that area. I'm curious, what's currently happening and then if there's changes on your roadmap for how do you keep the quality control there for support on all of these plugins? How does that work with your developers? What's the relationship you have there with them so that the end user knows that what they're getting out of there, there's some long-term quality assurance there. And we understand that it's not forever, but what is your current situation? And then if y'all are making the changes with your roadmap.

Adepeju: Yeah. We constantly promote in our upfront in our marketplace guidelines when you start submitting what level of compatibility has to be with current WordPress versions and PHP versions and the fact that the agreement is that you will maintain support and update your product. At the end of the day, because we are open source software, that is essentially going to end up being the point of differentiation between partner A and partner B. That's going to be the difference between getting a five-star rating and a two-star rating. So that ends up being what gets prioritized on the support side.

When we talk about how to support work, what's great is that for, just going to a little bit specifics, for presale questions, we do have our Woo support team who is essentially the first line of defense for support with certain get a ticket. And because we require a lot in the submission process or pre-launch, so walk-throughs and all that stuff, that gets funneled back to our support team so that they're educated on a product up to a point and be able to answer those questions, so hopefully, that takes away a little bit of that upfront burden from our partners.

Robbie: Yeah. That's actually amazing. I didn't know that they were the first line of support. That is amazing for developers out there. Awesome. Great to know.

Adepeju: Yeah. So that's for pre-purchase for the most part. But you get a lot of those inquiries, and it's like at least we had a team. And we have a huge support team that can at least help with that, to an extent. But then at the end of the day, it's a already existing customer, there is a place on the site where they can go pick their product, submit a ticket, and it goes directly to our developers. And it's an opportunity for our developers to be able to see firsthand what issues could be like, what they need to be focused on in terms of working on the next version of their product. So all of that gets surfaced from the tickets. They get a lot of feedback.

And as part of the WordPress-WooCommerce community, people are vocal. And they'll just go off on a review, or they'll rate it. And they'll tell you exactly why. They don't care. They'll be like, "This is not working." And we have to be careful too because I do look at reviews as well as someone who's just using reviews in order to take down a vendor or product. But for the most part, they are not shy in giving detailed feedback and giving reasons why they are poorly rating something or rating something really high.

And so I think partners want to be able to minimize that, and they think about that going in. And again, not only is that part of just a pride thing, but it also feeds back into the algorithm and how your product gets service. Yeah, it's not just a review for a review sake. It's not a rating for rating's sake. It's feeding into where your product will rank when a merchant enters a search term. Yeah. And we just recently did a huge update or revamp of our ratings and reviews, and it's a lot more visual. And it gives a merchant an idea of how a product performs on key attributes. And so it was a really great update that we just made, I believe, last month.

Robbie: Just one quick question while you're on that little topic. Do developers have the ability to answer those reviews, and do they have the ability to contest them if it is something like you're saying?

Adepeju: Yeah. So we can answer it, and we encourage that they answer it too because I think that plays into part of that customer service. It's not just, oh, I got a bad review, and then like it's one and done. It's, okay, let me be curious enough to understand where this person is coming from and show others that we're responding to this issue. But there are times when they contest it in our Slack channels. Or they can ping me or people on the team and contest something, and we'll look at it. We have our ratings and review guidelines. So if something doesn't adhere to a rating and review guideline, we look at it, and we'll remove it if necessary. But again, we try to have our partners respond publicly and try to fix an issue. I think other customers see that, and it actually ends up being a positive thing.

Ronald: A common scenario, I think, is for users who install one, two or maybe five or six, maybe 10 WooCommerce extensions. And then suddenly, one thing doesn't work. There's an incompatibility between them. And it could be a third party. Years ago, I had the issue myself between a currency switcher and, I think, a table rate plugin. So again, then the user ends up in this conflict between this should be sorted by them, or they should this and that. But by the looks of it is you see this happening all the time. What's in your roadmap?

Adepeju: Oh, totally.

Ronald: How do you solve this? And ultimately, of course, this is for the end user a really vital, crucial part of the popularity of WooCommerce.

Adepeju: Yeah. We do encourage that developers take into consideration making their product compatible with other popular extensions. So if you say WooCommerce subscriptions, it just would make sense for a lot of extensions to be compatible with that, for example. There's so many use cases. And then also, use a product page. As I like to say to developers, this is your sales page. This is where you showcase the different use cases or spell out the different use cases. We have an area where they can list out compatible products, make it front and center. And again, those things also play into our search algorithms too, compatibility, language, obviously categories. So we urge developers to be very upfront about and specific almost because it's their sales page.

Adepeju: Again, that said, you definitely have people who are merchants and customers who, again, their point of contention with a particular extension is that it doesn't work with another extension that may or may not be in the marketplace that the developer never actually said or claimed that it was compatible with. And so those are one of the things that we look at if a partner does contend or flag a review, or someone flags the reviews. Is this really applicable? Does it really make sense? And so there are those cases.

In terms of how do you combat against that, one of the things we did in the revamping of our ratings and review is you try to surface those guidelines early. So to the point about what we're doing for our developer partners, the same thing with customers who are about to submit a review. Read through these guidelines. What you're about to write is applicable. Does this make more sense as a support ticket versus providing a review? So we try to surface that.

Adepeju: Obviously, there's still people who to vent and maybe had a bad experience or really wanted it to work, and it didn't work. And those will come through, but we try to just catch those before they get published or afterwards if we need to remove it. And then we'll respond to the customer that left it and tell them why their review was taken down so they just don't think we're just deleting ratings and reviews here and there. But it's part of what you have to deal with when it's such an open source tech and when it's such an open platform. It's like those things will come through, and people will just expect everything to work well together when a lot of times they won't because, again, we don't know where you're getting certain products from. The quality, the consistency is not there. And they just might not be compatible.

Tonya: Yeah. So we've been talking about discoverability, quality, metrics. I'm wondering, then, if we flip the table around and now go to the merchant and talk about a bit the confidence and trust metrics so that if I'm a merchant and I'm trying to discover, how can I have confidence that this particular product, one, is going to fill my needs, but two, is not going to break my site? So maybe talk a little bit about that.

Adepeju: Yeah. That's what we try to solve for when we have products go through our linter, when we go through the business reviews and when we go through various reviews, extensions and things. It goes through pretty deep reviews. They go through pretty deep reviews but to an extent. It's balancing reviewing a product versus getting them in and letting them be part of this self-selecting or self-running marketplace. And that's something that we have to continue. That's our goal, is to invite in products that we feel are the best quality. But it's really interesting to balance. And I think it's something that I'll continue to look at personally but the team will continue to look at. It's like how do you balance open marketplace while trying to 100% ensure quality? I tell you it's tough because-

Tonya: Appreciate that. Yeah.

Adepeju: Yeah. I can tell you stuff because a lot of times too even just looking at a product walkthrough or a video, that doesn't tell me as much as I need to know about whether it's going to work, especially as partners, vendors create new versions, publish new versions. And it goes through a linter every time they do a new version. There's the code quality, but then there's the more ambiguous, does it look good? Is it the best possible designed experience? And those are things that are maybe not things you almost have to do. You have to go deep. It's what we see. So you really can't skip on the design part. But with extensions, it's hard to place that lens on every extension. We ask for the video walk-through, but it is tough to balance. It is.

Tonya: Yeah. It's more, does it deliver the result that's expected and doesn't have a side effect that's going to impact something else that was expected?

Adepeju: But to the point, how we try to balance that is we provide that 30-day refund policy, so you could test it for 30 days. No questions asked, you can request a refund. That's a one check we put in there. If you can't find whether or not it's compatible, it works well, it fills your needs in 30 days, then that's almost on you. But we set a policy to help facilitate that.

Tonya: For those conflicts and trust metrics, then you've got the 30 days. You've got the quality checks for the products, and you've got the rating system in there. Yeah. Okay.

Adepeju: Yeah.

Ronald: Robert, I'm going to ask you, so from a hosting and also as a strategist looking at WooCommerce and the trend, what do you see evolving, maybe some of the opportunities and threats that maybe Adepeju can take back to the team?

Robert: Certainly everyone's trying to get the WooCommerce experience to be much easier for their end users. That is, I think, the key. Adepeju talked a lot about how do we make that process easier for direct extension providers, but it becomes incumbent upon, whether you're a hosting company, an agency, whatnot, how do you make that onboarding experience as frictionless as possible and as intuitive as possible. So if I'm running a membership site, I'm not getting something that's built to be a point of sale system and taking some of that confusion and risk out of people making decisions that'll run their businesses. So I think there's still a lot of education when you're fighting against the, oh, it's Shopify; it does everything magically. Well, it doesn't. And it's not going to be the solution for many people. But what's the way to get that word out?

And so that was going to be my little sneaky question, was for that 60/40, 40/60 split, where is that WooCommerce Super Bowl ad that says we're the ones and reach out and work with all of our partners, that kind of thing? You don't have to answer now because I know Ronald will want to pick on Tonya and Robbie as well.

Ronald: No, I think that's a valid question.

Adepeju: I think that's to come. And I think it's funny because the ecosystem of WordPress and WooCommerce is so broad, and there's so many different partners and players. Being able to get that feedback and doing these kinds of round tables with you guys, I think just as we do more about putting ourselves out there and talking to partners and understanding what would make sense and what we could do more of, that's feedback that I personally love to hear and be able to take back to the lab and just say, "Okay, what can we do more?" I think what we know is that we have a large community.

We have people who are building and doing a lot, and it's almost like advocates. And it's easy to just rely on those advocates to do the work for us. But I think you'll see definitely within the next year of organizational changes that we're making because we recognize that we need to do a lot of this communication, positioning ourselves. So I think you'll see just some changes that we'll make there to speak to that.

Ronald: Robbie, I know you also with courses, you invested heavily with WooCommerce, and you use it for your clients. For you, What are the opportunities? And what would you like WooCommerce see do more of?

Robbie: I actually have just been taking little mental notes here. I didn't want to write and just look like I wasn't paying attention. And bless my agency hat on this because I'm more thinking on the training side of things here because I was like, okay, how do you write those? How do I see what's most popular? So I know what to write tutorials or create courses about and what should we include in there. So I was like, okay, because I do think that even you were talking about... One of the things you said was developers find the instructions for how to start the process and everything were hidden. I was like, oh, that's great. We just need to write a little tutorial about that on our site. So I think that education is a real key part to all of this, obviously. That's the world I'm in, though.

But I think that, like you said, you can just look at a video of somebody installing it, but that doesn't give you the comprehension necessarily of how this is going to function. And maybe if you see the way it's going to function totally, you might know if it is going to be the fit for you or not the fit for you. And so like I said, I was listening to all of this more from the training side of things thinking about it, Ronald. But from the agency side of things, we actually use a lot of things from the marketplace for our clients. And have they all 100% worked? No, they haven't. We'll be honest. There's conflicts that happen, but it's not just from the WooCommerce marketplace that we have conflicts happen. It's all the plugins.

Robbie: When you're talking about something as vast as WordPress, the amount of plugins that are out there and then the amount of plugins that are internal to a plugin, like WooCommerce, then it's very complex. You're going to have conflicts. I don't care how much quality control they do in the WooCommerce marketplace. They cannot predict that it is going to conflict with such an X-Y-Z calendar out there. They just can't. They cannot do that. I understand that.

And so I think from an agency side that agencies, we know this, and so we just have to keep our cool when that happens. And we do have to, though, also report back, not in a mean way, not in a bad review way. We need to report these things back so that they can be fixed if they can, if they can be fixed. And by the way, we've hit roadblocks where we couldn't fix it between the two conflicting plugins, and so then we had to make choices.

Adepeju: Yeah. And I'm always curious about in terms of education and tutorials, what could be... I think definitely as a marketplace team, WooCommerce team, we can help surface more of that, just bringing in different experts and just talking together about how to create the best experience or the best plugin. But I'm always curious about what you're seeing in terms of trends of what people want to know more about. So maybe it could be an offline thing.

Ronald: Tonya, what do you think the opportunities and threats are for WooCommerce, or maybe more specific on the marketplace, going ahead?

Tonya: Yeah, I've got a couple of trains of thought on it. One picks up on the educational point of view, that success for the product vendors in being successful to serve the needs of the merchants obviously then serves Woo and serves the merchants as well.

So it's this balance of if something's out of kilter, then the market in itself has problems. Thinking about and discovering ways to help, you may have a developer who knows how to develop a product, but how about the marketing side? How about getting that refinement and teaching in tools? So if I'm getting 60% and Woo's getting 40%, besides the metrics, maybe there's some training programs in there that help me to surface to find, my SEO needs help here. My target market is not falling, and how do I find some of those ways to get better traction and get better search results out of that algorithm that we talked about? And that's one.

And then two, as we started to talk about conflicts, I come from the Core side of things, there's a big repository of plugins. And I wonder if there's some synergy there that can start to how do some of those metrics come into play because those are going to affect the merchants as well and the product vendors if there's a conflict that's not in going through that quality control. Is there some sort of synergy that can then happen between the WordPress community and the WooCommerce community there as well? So what I'm thinking about are those two different threads.

Adepeju: To the education point, just, again, yes. I get a lot of questions from our partners who are like, "Oh, what other marketing levers can we use?" And as we grow, it gets harder to just say, "Oh, just do X, Y and Z, and you'll get a flood gate of traffic." We won't necessarily ever promise that, especially as we continue to grow. But to your point about making sure that they continue to understand what is taken into consideration and they understand basically how it works and that we're communicating that, not just as a one-time thing, but maybe constantly, I think is a very valid point. And just to combat those questions and make sure that they're doing everything they can to basically set themselves up for success, not guaranteed success, but set themselves up for ...

Tonya: Paths for success.

Adepeju: And, again, I do feel if it's not us within the Woo marketplace side that's giving those best practices, not specific for the marketplace, but just in terms of general product quality and general customer service... We have our WooCommerce product teams. We have our WooCommerce support teams. We have business leads who you're talking to day in and day out. If it's not us giving you those best practices of translating that or if you're not gleaning that, then I think we as WooCommerce teams are doing what we're supposed to do. Again, I will say this. We're facilitators, and I feel like my goal day in and day out is, how can I help make better or facilitate or better set up my partner's business? So that's a tall order.

Ronald: One last question really is, with all the responsibility, with so many contacts, you're right there in the middle between the shop owner, the developer, the merchant, everybody, a lot of eyes on you making these connections, making it all happen, how do you sleep at night? Do you ever worry that you think, ah, I messed up. Can I just refresh? Can I do a backup? Can't do that.

Adepeju: There are literally times where I have woken up in the middle of the night and be like, oh my God, I forgot to respond to this partner. It's just the things that are going on. Honestly, I wouldn't trade my position where I'm at or how I entered into WooCommerce for anything because, again, like we were talking about earlier, it's the best way to just know what's going on. I love being able to launch products but also have conversations with my developers, look at ratings and reviews because they all play together. And if I have that information, I can feed it back to partners and then feed it back internally. It is a learning curve. I'm not going to lie. There's a learning curve.

And taking in all that feedback can be a lot, but I honestly wouldn't trade it for anything. And again, at the end of the day, it's like when you get those responses of people being excited to launch the marketplace, people being excited to have a conversation, people being excited that they've made 100K in revenue in one month and they hit that mark, that is... And there'll be a case study coming out that will talk to that. Stay tuned. But those are things that I strive for, that get me excited and that make all those random thoughts in the middle of the night worth it.

Ronald: Right. Well, I'm going to thank all the panelists and, of course, our special guest. But I have one final question. I hope we can end on that note and ask for you to give us a glimpse of the future, maybe in one year time, of where you would like your department or WooCommerce to be. And just give us an idea. But otherwise, I think that's the last thing. So I'm going to say one more time thank you very much for your time joining us.

Adepeju: Thank you all. And just thank you for continuing support of WooCommerce. And I think for me just specifically in the marketplace, if I look a year from now, I think we're going to be a marketplace. That's going to continue to grow, potentially double where we are now in terms of inventory. There's going to be a lot more, or a portion of that product will be themes. A lot more will be SaaS products. We're not only growing in terms of volume but in terms of product diversification, which is very exciting. So that means we'll be able to work with even more partners. And the team that's supporting it on the inside, it's going to continue to grow. As ecommerce continues to grow and flourish, WooCommerce will do the same. So that's going to be pretty exciting, and it'll continue to be a wild ride. Never a dull moment.

Ronald: Some real good food for thought for anybody who wants to invest in developing with WooCommerce. Thank you once again.

Adepeju: Thanks, everyone.

Bob: Hey everyone, BobWP again. Thanks for joining us and a special thanks to our pod friends support from WPActivityLog.com and GoDaddy Pro Hub to be found dothewoo.io/hub. Cheers, thanks for tuning in and keep on doing the Woo.