WooCommerce on WordPress.com with Timmy Crawford

Do the Woo - WooCommerce Podcast, Community and News
Do the Woo - WooCommerce Podcast, Community and News
WooCommerce on WordPress.com with Timmy Crawford
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On a recent show with our guest, the discussion moved to running a WooCommerce store on WordPress.com. We knew there was an option. But none of us knew all the details. You can probably guess the rest.

Timmy Crawford, who works at WooCommerce / Automattic, is on the team that knows Woo and WordPress.com. He gives us some deep insights on why WooCommerce is so robust when running it on the WordPress.com business plan. I’m sure there are a lot of you builders who don’t know the juicy details, and might consider this a fit for a client’s project—or perhaps a recommendation of where they can get started with minimum resources.

A Chat with Timmy

In episode 104, Brad and I talk with Jimmy about:

  • His journey from building sites for ukuleles and ski resorts to landing on WordPress and WooCommerce
  • How Woo on WordPress.com compares with other platforms as far as setting up a store easily vs. self-hosted
  • When and if there is a time to move your store from WordPress.com to self-hosted
  • What does the migration process look like if you decide to move off WordPress.com to self-hosted
  • The features that stand out with Woo and WordPress.com
  • The outside perceptions of those looking at building a store on WordPress.com
  • Thoughts on headless and WooCommerce
  • What’s on the horizon for WooCommerce and WordPress.com

Bob: Hey, everyone. BobWP here. And we are back with Do the Woo, episode 104. I'm joined by one of my three favorite co-hosts, that's how I'm going to say it from now on, Brad Williams. Hey, Brad.

Brad: But which one am I? How are you going to rank me, Bob? Am I one, two, or three?

Bob: Yeah. See, that's what I haven't quite ... I'm going to start a ranking system, and little stars or something. I don't know.

Brad: I feel like our ranks will very much fluctuate from week to week based on how well we do. I like it. I'm excited. How's it going over there, Bob?

Bob: Good, good. Just cruising along, doing the same old, same old, so keeping busy.

Brad: Weather's getting a little nicer here, so that's encouraging. I feel like we're emerging from our cave, from this long, dark winter, and weather's getting nicer. People are outdoors. Vaccines are flowing, so it's very encouraging for hopefully a safe and semi normal, somewhat normal summer, hopefully.

Bob: Yeah.

Brad: It's looking good.

Bob: Yeah. We'll see, but yeah, so far, so good. All righty, well, we have a very cool episode and a very cool guest on.

And before I get into that, let me just give a quick shout out to our community sponsor, PayPal. Of course, you can always check out their pay later options. We've been talking about that for a while. They're our community sponsor for about one more month. They've been one for six months now, giving a lot to the community, so do check them out. And you'll hear more about them later in the show.

We have Timmy Crawford from Automattic here, and we have a really fun discussion around a topic that actually Brad brought up in an earlier show, and I thought, "Well, yeah, we need to talk about this." But before I do, I'd like to welcome Timmy. Hey, welcome to the show.

Timmy: Hello everybody. Thank you for having me. I wanted to ask. Am I in the top 104 favorite guests of yours, by chance?

Bob: Yeah, yeah.

Timmy: Oh, cool.

Bob: I'd say right there. Yeah, you're ...

Brad: I mean, to be fair, it's a little early to actually rate anything, so let's circle back on that question about 30 minutes.

Timmy: Okay. I will do my best. I'm going to aim for the top 100.

Brad: No pressure, Timmy. No pressure.

Bob: Yeah. There's a little meter nobody can see except Brad and I. We rate the guests while they're on. And it kind of fluctuates up and down, seriously.

Timmy: No, I'm really glad to be here. Long time listeners, so it's really, really fun to be on the show. Thanks for having me.

Bob: Excellent. Well, you're very welcome. And yeah, we want to get into it. But first of all, our infamous question. How do you Do the Woo?

Timmy: How do I Do the Woo? I am lucky enough to get to Do the Woo on a daily basis here at Automattic. I have been at Automattic, it will be seven years, I believe, this May, which is wow. It's a very long time. It's the longest I've ever been with one company, which is saying something. It's been a lot of fun. I moved over to the WooCommerce team about three and a half years ago. So at the time, I moved over to work on a product, which was on WordPress.com. It was actually a WooCommerce interface built specifically for WordPress.com. So I saw that project happening, and a few folks that I'd worked with on other projects here at Automattic had moved over to WooCommerce, and I was like, "Hey, I think I want to check this out." So yeah, I switched over then, and we built that product.

And since then, our team has gotten to work on a number of different things, WooCommerce admin being one of the big things we've worked on, which is now part of Core, since WooCommerce 4.0 last year. So yeah, I get to work on the team. Our focus area is called start and manage, so we really concentrate on the onboarding journey of people setting up their new stores in WooCommerce, trying to make that as smooth as possible. And the other thing that we like to focus on are improving the management tools in WooCommerce admin, in the admin area. So yeah, that's how I Do the Woo. I also have a few stores out there that I'm sure we'll talk about later on when we get talking about WordPress.com.

Bob: Okay, cool. Well, I know we want to talk about that, specifically how WooCommerce and WordPress.com is working together these days, and what the opportunities for builders who build site for clients.

But before we do, how did you get to WordPress? I mean, how did you move to Automattic? Were you in WordPress or playing with WordPress before then? Just a little bit of that journey.

Timmy: Yeah, yeah. So going back beyond that seven years, I've been in web development for quite a long time, kind of self taught PHP when I was working at the local ski resort. And from there, I went on to ... At the ski resort, our eCommerce site, this was the first eCommerce site I worked on, which processed the massive amount of transactions for season pass sales, was built on Cold Fusion, if you all remember that.

Brad: Oh, yeah. I haven't heard that one in a while.

Timmy: And the audience shudders. But yeah, so got to really get started in web development there, and from there, moved on to a number of different eCommerce sites. I worked on a large outdoor retailer here in Central Oregon called Altrec.com, which was a Java page. And then I transitioned there into the Ruby world. I had been working in the Ruby world for quite some time at a startup here in Bend, Oregon. And yeah, so I kind of came into the WordPress world more from Ruby, which was an interesting side of, an interesting approach. I'd been a longtime PHP developer. I'd built WordPress sites. But coming to Automattic is really kind of what started me working in WordPress more exclusively. So it was definitely a change for me to join Automattic, not being a WordPress developer.

What brought me to Automattic was one of my best friends from college is a Happiness Engineer here at Automattic, and got to kind of hear about his journey through the interview process and his first year. I was like, "Wow, this sounds awesome," so I applied and here I am, almost seven years later. Prior to coming to Automattic, I was working on a small eCommerce site that I had custom built in Ruby on Rails that sold long board skateboards, skateboards, and another shop that sold ukuleles. So yeah, had kind of this deep-

Brad: You're really painting the picture of who you are here.

Bob: Yeah. I was thinking of the two together, actually.

Brad: Skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, ukuleles.

Timmy: All at the same time, so you've got to go ski, and then you hop on your long board while playing the ukulele, and you ride back into town to go work on your WordPress site.

Brad: That's awesome, quite a journey. I mean, the first thing I want to say is the ski resort, it's no better now than it sounds like it was when you were working on it, because I'm north of Philly, but we go to the Poconos a lot and ski. I enjoy skiing and trying some of the different resorts there, and those sites are terrible, just the whole booking process of lift tickets, it's bad. It's still bad. It still reminds me of restaurant sites and how most of them are just not good, not good experiences.

Timmy: Absolutely.

Brad: Probably a lot of work there for us to get them all around the WooCommerce, where it can be a better experience, I think.

Timmy: Yeah, that's an interesting idea for sure. Huge improvements can be made in resort software. Yeah, so I worked with a lot of different point of sales systems back then, and none of them talked to each other. But yeah, that's how I started writing PHP scripts, was to pull data from different sources around the resort and display it on the web.

Brad: Yeah, and if nothing else, I think just the start of kind of your transition, you said you started to learn PHP self taught, just as you were working somewhere else. I love hearing those type of stories. I think it can open up people's minds a little bit in the sense of, okay, even where I'm at now, there's still an opportunity for a potential career shift if you're eager to learn.

Timmy: Absolutely.

Brad: If it's interesting to you and you did it on your own time, you did it in self taught in a way. Sounds like clearly it piqued your interest enough to continue down that road. And here you are, however many years later.

Timmy: Yeah, absolutely.

Brad: Enjoy stories like that because I think people, I think a lot of people think, "Well, I'm already didn't what I'm going to do." Maybe I'm in my 20s, maybe 30s, or 40s, or beyond, and it's like that's not really true anymore. You can make a shift. And it doesn't necessarily take as long as a lot of people think it does if you have the passion and drive to do it.

Timmy: Really, I think that's one of the beauties and powers of WordPress and WooCommerce by extension, is you do have the room there to tinker a little bit. If you want to roll your sleeves up and see how things work, the code's all there. It's open. It's free. And you're going to break your site now and then, but it's easy to revert things like that, so yeah, definitely. I think that's one thing that I've really loved about the WordPress community is that it does remind me of my roots in programming, and kind of that self taught journey.

Bob: Yeah. I'm the poster child for WordPress because I didn't start WordPress until I was 50 years old, so I don't know what that says about me.

Brad: I mean, it says, the sky's the limit in my opinion. And I agree about the WordPress and kind of diving in, and it's for all skill levels. You can really get started pretty quickly and actually do some pretty impactful things using WordPress pretty quickly as well. But yeah, that's another reason I'm a big proponent of open source because I'm more of a hands on, learn as I go type of person. So I like to just dive in and say, "All right. What can I break?" Or what can I fix? Or could I do this or not do that? And that's how I learned. Sounds like maybe a similar path with you.

Timmy: Yeah.

Brad: More self taught versus traditional school.

Timmy: Yeah. And so now that I get to come to work each day and help build software that millions of people around the world get to use on a daily basis, it's such a joy. I feel very lucky and fortunate to be in this position.

Brad: That's great. Let's dive into the WooCommerce and WordPress.com. I know this came up a couple weeks ago, right, Bob? When we were on the show, and we were like, "That would be a great episode to kind of dig into the eCommerce options that actually exist on WordPress.com." We're obviously more focused on the self hosted side, I think just naturally, by default, with the guests and conversations we have. But there's a whole other side of WooCommerce on the dot com layer.

And I've famously said on the show, and Bob still lets me come back even though I said it, but when my friends and family come to me and say, "I want to launch a store. I've got an idea. Can you help me?" I say, "Absolutely. You should go check out Shopify because I don't want to set up your store and be your support team." So is WordPress.com, can I start sending my family and friends there? And can they set up a store? And can it be relatively painless from that perspective, as opposed to maybe a more self hosted? Or is it very similar in that way?

Timmy: Yeah, that's a great question. Yeah, so a little bit more on the WordPress.com side of things, I think taking a look back at where it once was and where it is today is probably really valuable in this conversation. So when I first started at Automattic, I was on the data team here. And at the time, this was, like I said, about seven years ago, the team on WordPress.com was just starting to look at rewriting a new dashboard system. So at the time, there was a system in place that was built largely on Backbone GS, like anybody who's worked in WordPress core on the job script side of things has tinkered with that sort of code before.

But yeah, they wanted to transition to kind of a new platform to build the next generation of WordPress.com, and so that was built using a new JavaScript framework at the time called React, that was out of Facebook. And yeah, at that point-

Brad: Never heard of it.

Timmy: Yeah. No, at that time, it was very much a new thing. So back then, the whole debate of dot com versus dot org was, if you want a site that you have full control over, that you can install plug ins, custom themes, you need to go the dot org route, and self host. So when I was on my support rotation when I first started, that was a question you would often get. Someone's like, "I want to install this thing on my site," and you're like, "Sorry. You've got to go to dot org." So I think about I want to say it was three or four years ago, probably should've jotted that date down before this chat, but we launched a new product at Automattic, which was called the business plan, and it's still here now.

And it lets you do all of those self hosted things on WordPress.com. So on a business plan site, you install your first plug in, it takes your site's data, magically behind the scenes, transforms it into just like a site you would have hosted somewhere else, Go Daddy, or Shopify, not Shopify, excuse me. You brought that word into the conversation. Go Daddy, or WP Engine, anything like that. It's where you can upload plug ins and fully customize your site. So that was a big game changer, so that definitely took the narrative that had been always the case of dot org versus dot com, and totally flipped it. So yeah, you can go to WordPress.com right now, or you can refer your friends and family. And if they selected the business plan or the eCommerce plan, they have a site that they could fully customize.

Brad: I definitely like that option, I think because a lot of ... And we get these requests at WebDev too, and I have a lot of conversations just locally, the meetups and stuff. But I think a common path for people to end up on WooCommerce, or just end up on eCommerce launching a store, is they want a proof of concept. Right? They have an idea. Maybe they have something they've been making, and they want to see if it has legs. Right? Do people want this? Will it sell? Can it be a business? So my recommendation is just that, get a store up there as a proof of concept and try it. It doesn't have to be the perfect store. It doesn't have to be customized for everything about your branding. Yeah, of course, you want it to look like your brand.

Like MVP, what's the minimum viable product to get your product out there for sale? And then to see if there's a market to test the waters, that's always my recommendation because don't invest $100,000 in some custom store and realize, oh, this product I have, nobody wants it. So that's one of the reasons why the idea of an easy onboard, and I think this is interesting because it sounds like, correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like the team you're on is kind of focused on the setup and onboarding. Is that right?

Timmy: Correct, yeah.

Brad: So the idea of an easy onboard for someone that wants to kind of test the waters, wants to see if there's a viable product that they have, is that setup of WooCommerce, is it the exact same that I would experience self hosted? Is it a little bit more tailored towards more S and Bs, or maybe a little bit more hand holding that goes along the way for those new users to help them set up their store? I'm just curious how those processes compare.

Timmy: Absolutely, yeah. And I didn't get to that part of the question yet. So yeah, WordPress.com, yes, you can have a site now that you can install WooCommerce or any other plug in. But what's the experience like that beyond that? So we do, we have done a bit of customization to the onboarding wizard. You all familiar with that? The site of WooCommerce, when you first install, you get redirected to this splash screen, and it has enter your address and other things there. So we've definitely customized that a little bit for the WordPress.com flows, more so on the eCommerce plan.

So the eCommerce plan is a unique product because you get everything that's in the business plan, but it also comes bundled with a handful of paid extensions that you would have to purchase on the marketplace. I don't have that list of extensions, but I can get it to you for the show notes. But that eCommerce plan definitely has a much more customized onboarding, where we remove some of the screens that you see in the standard WooCommerce onboarding flow.

But by and large, what we're trying to do on the onboarding side of things, and the start and setup journey, is really focus on making that experience as smooth as possible in the WooCommerce Core plug in, so no matter where you're hosting your WooCommerce site, you benefit from that because if we can help people vet that idea for that new product, or get something up and running quickly to help them vet and see if there's a market there for that product, then our users are successful and we're successful too. So it's in our best interest to make the onboarding journey as smooth as possible to all WooCommerce users, regardless of where they are.

Brad: Yeah. And once their store is up and running, and they've proven out, hey, this is working, people are buying this, there's demand, I have something here, then it's like, okay. Now you running WooCommerce, it's already working. You already have some level of comfort with that system because you've been using it for a period of time. So ultimately, if there aren't really any reasons why they should leave, they won't. Right? They'll just continue on WooCommerce.

Now there might be a point down the road where they decide to split off and more self host it, I would imagine. But if things continue to grow, but there's no reason. I guess that is the question I'm trying to formulate as I talk here. But is it set up in a way where I could launch my store to the infinite scale and size? Is that the recommendation of WordPress.com? Or is there at some point where you say, "Look, when you get to this in your business, this when it probably is an appropriate time to kind of peel off to a more self hosted setup"?

Timmy: Yeah. Really, the business plan, the eCommerce plan on WordPress.com should be able to scale very well with you. That's one of the benefits in my opinion of hosting on WordPress.com, is the team that is behind that, so our systems team is quite possibly the experts on how to run WordPress at scale. You look at the sheer volume of page views that happen across WordPress.com on a daily basis, it's mind boggling. I still am amazed I get to work on a site of that scale.

And so having a team that knows the ins and outs of WordPress deeply, and WooCommerce deeply, I would say that WordPress.com is a solid platform for a brand new business and one that's massively growing. If you get to the plan where you need a higher level of availability or support, then we also, WordPress.com has the VIP service, which is designed to host very high profile sites.

Thanks to our sponsor PayPal. PayPal offers Buy Now Pay Later options that your clients can use to help increase their sales on their WooCommerce shops. They gives store customers more purchasing power through flexible and transparent choices in how and when they pay.

So offering those payment options is good business. Did you know that 64% of consumers surveyed say they are more likely to make a purchase at a retailer that offers interest-free payment options. And 56% of consumers that responded agree that they prefer to pay a purchase back in installments rather than use a credit card.

Well, this seems like a no-brainer to me. Clients can grow their sales and get paid up front with no additional risk or cost.

All you need to do is download the PayPal Checkout extension on the Marketplace at WooCommerce.com. Just head on over, click marketplace and search for the PayPal Checkout. Suggesting that to your clients will certainly open up sales opportunities for them.

Thanks for PayPal for being a community sponsor at Do the Woo. And now back the conversation.

Bob: If you're a builder and somebody comes to you and says, "Hey, I'm on WordPress.com, but I really want to for whatever reason, da, da, da, move over to self hosted by WooCommerce shop that is there," and let's say it's a medium size. It's not some explosive, big thing, which would take more. What's that process like for them? What should they be prepared for? Should they really think, give second thoughts of why are you moving? It might be easier to stay there.

Timmy: Well, I think that's just like any WordPress site on any host, you could use any number of tools to migrate your site completely to another host and provider. Obviously, there's some considerations there of downtime that you would need to thing about, DNS updates and all that sort of good stuff. But really, the power of what's offered with WooCommerce versus say, a closed system like Shopify or Wix, is you own that data. It's portable. You can back it up. You can move it to another site. And I think now more so than ever, that's becoming a much more important narrative in the day and age we live in with data breaches and GDPR and privacy concerns. So having full control every day and being able to make that portable and move it everywhere, that's definitely the case here on WordPress.com. So yeah, no concerns there in my opinion. And definitely, I think there would be times where the management tools we have, like the site admin tools, we have SFT access on these sites. We have database access via phpMyAdmin.

But let's say you're running a subscription business, and you've reached a volume where the background jobs that kind of power that whole process need a bit more processor strength behind them, or maybe dedicated resources for that, yeah, maybe that would be time to start looking at a more dedicated customized solution, whether that be with a WP Engine, or Linode, or something like that. You can take your data and move there, so that's one. It could be looked at as a great starting place to start your business on WordPress.com. And if it get super successful, definitely you can take that data and move it anywhere you'd like.

Brad: Yeah. And I mean, that's just to your point about owning your data. You're right, it is becoming ... We've preached this for years, anyone in open source, that's one of the reasons I think we're drawn to it, is the ownership of it. But I do feel like that idea of owning your data is getting out more to the masses and the general public in a sense. So people are realizing that even if they're not in necessarily technology fields, but if they're starting to say, "Well, I do want to do a store," I feel like not everybody understands that or knows what that means. But I feel like enough people at this point do, to educate maybe the people that don't, of why that's important, and what some pitfalls of not owning the data could potentially because.

Because honestly, all the problems you said are great problems to have. Oh, well, if you're literally doing so many transactions, our jobs can't keep up, that's an amazing problem to have. Right? That's a great problem to figure out because you're doing awesome with your store, and it is time to upgrade. It is time to get a little bit more serious about the underlying stack that's powering your system and everything. So great problems to have and a great way to say, "Okay, well, it looks like you maybe have outgrown our platform. Here's some options. VIP, WP Engine, and whoever else, Liquid Web." There's a lot of options out there.

Timmy: Yeah, but if we go back to the startup journey, there's a few other things, like that scenario of someone brand new to WordPress or WooCommerce, and what that looks like on WordPress.com and what makes it unique. I always like to use my dad as an example, so I like to envision my dad, who is definitely one of those folks who's resisted technology. I still remember when he got his first laptop and was forced to use it. It was comical. Anyhow, so picturing my dad going through this onboarding flow, couple things that stand out to me that are really great for people that are brand new to WordPress.

So on this eCommerce plan product, we offer what's called a quick start session. And you get an hour of time with one of the WordPress.com Happiness Engineers. And quick tangent there, that to me is one of the most shining benefits of hosting on WordPress.com, is you get access to our support team, our Happiness Engineers.

Brad: Yeah, that's huge. That's huge.

Timmy: Who know WooCommerce better than I do, I mean, they've worked on so many different sites. They get the craziest problems, dozens of plug ins installed, a functions PHP file that has thousands of lines of Band-Aids and duct tapes in it, and they can support these things. So you get an hour of time with someone who is a WordPress and WooCommerce expert and they can help you step through some of those trickier parts of store setup, because as anybody who's worked on WooCommerce knows, it can be a very daunting experience when you first set up a site. There's a lot to do.

So you get a very nice welcome mat rolled out for you right there at this quick start session. And there's a number of other services that just kind of run in the background on any WordPress.com site that make moving around in a WooCommerce site much easier. Namely, we have automated backups via Jetpack, so that offers a service called One Click Rewind. So say you installed an extension for Woo that you bought off of maybe a sketchier marketplace, not an approved, vetted extension, and it crashed your site. So you could use the rewind feature to just go back to the point and time before you installed that. And that's all bundled up as part of the plan.

Brad: Did you make that feature for Bob? It feels like a Bob feature.

Timmy: The Bob button.

Brad: The Bob button, rewind.

Bob: I used to have Vault Press on, I had that activated it through Jetpack.

Timmy: Bingo.

Bob: And at one point, I don't think I have that backup anymore, but that level of backup where it was, you could step back just a few, and it did save me a few times.

Brad: Like real time, which is important in eCommerce.

Bob: Yeah. It saved me quite a few times. It was like, "Oops, this went sideways. Oh, just go back here, ding, ding ding." Yeah, it was huge.

Timmy: Yeah. And that is a Jetpack feature, so yeah, you can install that on any WooCommerce site. But that just kind of comes with your plan on WordPress.com. Couple other things, we do plug in auto updates, so your version of WooCommerce will always stay up to date. The database migrations run on your behalf. And your WordPress gets updated also, so definitely just keep sites up to date on behalf of users, which keeps you protected from all of the known security issues and gets you all the latest and greatest.

Brad: Yeah. I like the hands off approach for stuff like that because I think most people realize backups are important, but on an eCommerce site, you really need realtime backups because if somebody purchases something, and your site crashes a minute later, and you don't have a backup of that, you have a problem that you're going to have to figure out, and it's not going to be necessarily easy to figure out. So realtime is almost a requirement, so just having stuff like that baked in, that's what people need to be looking for, not whether it's with WordPress.com or any other host. You need that realtime backups.

Bob: One of the things I'm curious about, even in the side of the self hosted, in the WooCommerce space, it's been a journey for everybody, builders out there, agencies, to convince people that, get them out of the mindset that WordPress is just ... I mean, it still happens, it's just a CMS. It can't do all this stuff, it can't go enterprise, it can run a big store. How has that messaging or how has that worked for WordPress.com across ... Because you've been with them through this entire process it sounds like, how's that worked with giving that perception of, oh, I'm going on WordPress.com. Yeah, I'm going to start a blog. How about starting a good sized store? Whoa, wait a minute. What are you talking about? WordPress.com is for blogs, isn't it? And I know you added the different levels. So has that awareness grown? Have you seen people jumping on and saying, "Hey, yeah. I can start a store on there"? Versus kind of being stuck in that mode, especially people that are new to WordPress, that, oh, I need to kind of start small on WordPress.com.

Timmy: Yeah. I think that's a question that's bigger than WordPress.com. It's a WordPress question. Right? So if someone comes to you, a relative or a friend, they're like, "Hey, I have this great idea for a product. I want to start an online store," the WordPress is not going to be a framework or a CMS that pops in their mind for eCommerce. The brand recognition isn't there. WooCommerce, it has commerce in the name, so there is brand recognition there, and we do get quite a few people the end up on WooCommerce.com that want to start a store. But they might not even have any idea what WordPress is. So this is something that I feel that WooCommerce, ourselves, can do a better job of building up that brand awareness of WordPress is obviously capable of powering high available eCommerce sites. The one big one that I like to point out recently, that's big online and commercials, is Tonal. Have you seen the workout device?

Brad: I have. They are highly targeting me on social, I can tell you that. Every other ad is Tonal. And it looks cool.

Timmy: Yeah. Me too. Maybe it's something to do with our age range.

Brad: I don't know. I did click through, so they are definitely tracking because I've looked at their videos and stuff. That's cool, I didn't know Tonal was on WooCommerce.

Timmy: Yeah. Tonal's a WooCommerce site. So yeah, WooCommerce and WordPress can scale, and it does scale. So but I think the bigger, you zoom out a little bit, the bigger picture here is just making WooCommerce and WordPress too, kind of in that same conversation when people are talking about using Wix, or Shopify, or Weebly, making sure that our name is up there and considered. So yeah, I think we can make some big moves there still, in my opinion.

Brad: My response, I'll just add, when people ask that is 40%, 40% of the web. So yeah, it can do whatever you want it to do, it can do it, I promise.

Timmy: Yeah, yeah. But yeah, the perception is still there, like WordPress is for blogs. So it's just one of those things as a community, we all have to help educate folks better that it is capable of doing all things.

Brad: Yeah. I'm pretty involved, I'm sure we all are, meetups and the local community as well. And I feel like that notion of it being blogging software is definitely, it's been minimal in the last few years. I feel like I get more of the security questions now than I do whether it can actually be a CMS. I feel like most people out there are somewhat aware of WordPress in a sense. I think there's always going to be people that still look at it as blogging software. I feel like it's a very small percentage of the overall people looking at stuff like this. But the security stuff always comes up because just the idea of open source I think is scary. Open, you mean people can see my code? And that's the educational thing that probably will never go away because if you're not familiar with open source actually means, it can sound a little bit scary. You know?

Bob: And you wonder at what level when you think about it, I mean, when you talk about beginners, sure, things will come up like, oh, it's simple to whip up a site on Wix. It's simple to whip up a site on Shopify. And then you get to that kind of intermediate, then you start having to look at these things differently. And then when you get to really big, then probably really big ones aren't saying, "Hey, I'm going to whip up something on Wix." But then it kind of moves over to the Shopify side of things, where that affects WooCommerce directly.

So seems like WooCommerce and eCommerce is a little, and for perfect reasons, it's a little behind the blogging thing because everybody's finally accepting WordPress as a blog, more than a blog. I can create a huge site. Now we're kind of in that eCommerce phase, where, yeah, more people are accepting it as being able to do large stores. But there's still that little bit of reluctance. So the eCommerce phase is what maybe blogging was to WordPress back a ways, where people, that perception of what they're able to do with WordPress or not.

Timmy: Yeah. I think another evolution that's coming up is the whole headless concept, where: Can WooCommerce be just the backend, and my front end can be built in something purely JavaScript, and won't even use WordPress to render? And yeah, theoretically, you could absolutely today fire up a site on WordPress.com and use the new checkout API that's being built as part of the blocks project in WooCommerce. I don't know if you all have talked about that yet on the show. But there's some checkout blocks that are being built. And as part of that, there's a bunch of new rest endpoints that allow you to add products to the cart, manipulate the cart, and actually process a checkout. So theoretically, you could have your back end logic for your eCommerce store living on WordPress.com, and then the front end running in some server less type architecture, Jamstack, or whatever you want it to be.

Brad: I love the possibilities there. We've definitely dug into the blocks and the cart, and into the checkout and some of the work that's being done there, and just the idea of ... It's a little different now, but back when it was first being discussed and introduced a year plug ago, that was really the first area I'd seen examples of Gutenberg outside of the content editor on more static pages, which was really exciting to see because that was always kind of the vision of what we were sold on Gutenberg and what we were expecting. So to see it at that point, it's come a long way since then. Now we're seeing full site editing with WordPress and things like that. But to see that first kind of iteration of it was exciting, and it's still exciting.

Brad: And to your point about headless, that is certainly the ... I like to say it's not new. It's not a new idea in theory, but it's definitely the new hotness in terms of the WordPress world, where everybody's talking about headless. Everybody's building things in the headless way. There's so much more JavaScript going on because of things like Gutenberg, where there's naturally kind of that progression that now companies have teams of very talented JavaScript devs that can really push the envelope on headless implementation, so it's really a pretty exciting world on that front, and fairly, well, clearly new because the stuff that needs to be rolled out to production. But once it is, it'll be neat to see what people start doing with it.

Timmy: Absolutely. But yeah, so you have that end of the spectrum that you could handle on WordPress.com. But back to that small business site, simple product idea. I like to share this story, this was happening about three years ago when I first started Woo. My daughter, who was about nine or 10 at that time, really wanted to raise money for animal shelters. So she loves dogs, we have three dogs in our house. One of our dogs, our third dog, is because of this project, ironically enough. But so she had this idea that she wanted to raise money for animals, and was trying to sell her stuffed animals on the side of the street to raise money to donate. I'm like, "I think we need to work on a product here." So we created this simple, simple sticker that it's not a unique design by any stretch, but it's the state of Oregon. The outline of the state of Oregon, and there was really popular store with a green heart in the middle of it. And then you would sell those at REI.

So I'm like, "Why don't we do that, but have a dog paw print in there?" So my daughter, on WordPress.com, on a WooCommerce site, with me looking over her shoulder, but she was 10 years old at the time, set up her WooCommerce store and sold these stickers for $5 a piece. And I think, I lost track, but I think she ended up raising over $1000. And we donated that to any number of local animal shelters.

Brad: Awesome.

Timmy: So yeah, you can have a kid that has an idea, and they want to dabble and get to sell something, and WordPress and WooCommerce allows anyone that has an idea like that to do that, so I don't know if my dad could set up a store the same way.

Bob: You say a 10 year old could probably ... Yeah.

Timmy: Granddaughter can help him out. My dad's actually coming to visit soon, so maybe I'll put him-

Brad: Test him out.

Timmy: In front of the new onboarding wizard and give it the dad test.

Brad: That's a great story.

Bob: Yeah. I've been tempted. Several guests have talked about their kids building sites, little stores. And I'm trying to wrangle in together two or three kids to have on the podcast to talk about their experience, the ones that actually did a little bit of hands on. So I may wrap back around, see if that's something that would work. I mean, but I think it would be fun.

Before I forget, you had mentioned about the blocks and stuff. Actually, by coincidence, next Tuesday, our Woo Perspective Podcast, I'll have a new co-host joining us. Her name is Noelle Steegs, and we're going to be interviewing Darren Ethier and Gary Murray at Automattic, specifically about Woo Blocks. We're going to let them have a conversation around it and stuff, so we'll be touching on that. So if you're curious about what Timmy was talking about there, I'm sure we'll be covering that in that conversation.

Brad: Yeah. That's great. And Darren was the first guy we talked to about that, so that's kind of cool he's coming back full circle to see where we're at now.

Timmy: Yeah. That'll be a great show. Yeah, Darren used to be on the team with us, and so blocks were part of our team for a while. But yeah, Darren is fantastic and a great resource for that area.

Bob: Yeah, so looking forward to that. So yeah, very cool. Anything coming down the pike worth sharing around WordPress.com, or anything? I know you can't share the dark, deep secrets of things. But if there's something that you could kind of tease us with, or just kind of keep our eyes open for.

Timmy: Yeah. So yeah, I think this is a two for one because it's a WooCommerce and it's on WordPress.com right now. So we do roll out new WooCommerce features onto the eCommerce plan or the business plan users here on WordPress.com. And one of those features that our team has been working on, which is now live on the eCommerce plan is the new WooCommerce navigation. And I think that would be a great topic for another Do the Woo podcast because we could talk about that for an hour easily.

But yeah, WooCommerce navigation I think is a long time coming. WooCommerce has long ago outgrew the WP admin navigation scheme. So having a space that's dedicated and specific to your store management tasks is super exciting for me, and definitely a lot of the teams internally here in Woo have been integrating with the new navigation, so that's exciting to see that. And through that process, they've brought up some things that need additional work, so we're continuing to iterate on that. So yeah, that's the feature I think I'm most excited about coming up.

Bob: Cool. All righty. Excellent.

Brad: Very cool.

Bob: Has this clarified things for us, Brad, from our questions at the other episode as far as-

Brad: Yeah. I mean, if I'm being completely honest, it's way further along than I think I realized, and now I want to go in and kind of kick the tires a bit and maybe set up a little dummy store and play around with it more because my perception was not they're necessarily in line with what's publicly released. And it was maybe more tailored, customized version for WordPress.com. But it doesn't sound like that's ... Maybe in some areas where it makes sense, but it doesn't sound like overly that's the case. So I kind of want to dig in and play with it because again, I don't necessarily want to send people to Shopify. But what I don't want is the massive burden of, here's WooCommerce, now there's 50 things you've got to fill out, and all those questions that come back to me as the family tech support.

So I'm anxious to get to that point. It sounds like we might be there. So I'm going to play with it and see if I can say, "You know what, go to WordPress.com, business or eCommerce plan. Test out your theory, and if it works, then we'll talk about what's next." So that's the answer I want to give them, and I'm going to figure that out before our next show, Bob. And I will let the world know if we're there yet.

Timmy: I'm really keen to know myself. And if there is any part of the setup experience that's harder than others, whether it's setting up shipping rates, whatever it might be, we put a lot of work on the new home screen in WooCommerce. There's a setup checklist that also gets displayed. So we've tried to make some of those hard tasks a lot simpler, or even automate them for people. So we'd love to hear what your experience is.

Brad: Yeah. I'll definitely put some notes together, and I'll be happy to shoot them over to you just as some constructive feedback of my thoughts on that process.

Timmy: Love it.

Brad: Yeah, so we really appreciate you coming on the show, Timmy. This has been super informative. And like we said kind of pre show, it's always fun to have someone on that we can dig in, where we truly actually do have some questions that we want to learn from, and we're not just kind of soft balling things that we already know. So definitely appreciate you being open to Bob and I poking and prodding a little bit. And thanks for sharing the story, especially the story about your daughter. I mean, just getting kids online, I'm sure that lit a spark. And I'm sure from that, the ideas probably been flowing. I just think that is so cool to get kids into technology early and see what they can produce because we all know they're going to pass us pretty quickly.

Timmy: She's already got her second WooCommerce store up and running.

Brad: There you go.

Timmy: To sell her Animal Crossing fan art stickers now.

Brad: That's awesome. I hope you're giving her a good rate on your consulting time and not a below market rate. You've got to value yourself appropriately, even for family. Okay?

Timmy: Absolutely. I've tried to do the trade setup with her, where she pays for my services with doing chores around the house.

Brad: How's that working out?

Timmy: Not too well yet.

Bob: Got to send it to collection now.

Brad: Might be a market here. I like this.

But cool, let's wrap up the show. Real quick, we do want to thank our sponsor, PayPal, as always. If you're not using PayPal, you should be using PayPal. We say it all the time and I'll keep saying it. Make it easier for people to pay you, credit cards, PayPal, bitcoin, anything, but make it easy for people to pay you. So PayPal is a no brainer, there's a lot of really great extensions out there on WooCommerce.com. Quick and easy integration, and you're done. Monies will go right into your PayPal account. So I want to thank them as always for being a sponsor.

And I want to tease a little something that's coming starting next week. We put some calls out for questions. So we did this on the 100th episode and it was a lot of fun. So we'll put some calls out for questions, maybe we'll even tee up some questions. Then you'll easily be able to go in your browser, one click, record a quick little question for us, or maybe a comment, or thoughts. And we'll play it on the air, and we'll respond to your questions, or your comments on the air through our show. So Bob will be putting some information about that out in about the next week or so. Right, Bob?

Bob: Right, right.

Brad: So keep an eye on BobWP's Twitter over there. I'm sure you'll see it, and we'll certainly talk more about it on the show, so stay tuned for that. And Timmy, again, thank you for coming on the show. Where can people find you online, if there's other things you'd like to plug in the WooCommerce space, or really anything?

Timmy: Sure. I think I have a Twitter account. I know I haven't used it in years if you follow me there, if you like silence.

Bob: Sometimes that's good.

Timmy: Yeah. I'm on all the Slacks. I think I'm Timmy C on both WordPress Slack and the WooCommerce Slack, so feel free to reach out to me there with any questions.

Yeah, the other thing I just want to mention is we have a lot of job openings right now here at WooCommerce and Automattic. So if you go to Automattic.com/work-with-us, and work with us is hyphenated, you can see all the job openings there. And there are openings specifically for WooCommerce, so if you're an engineer and you like working with WooCommerce, come work with us. It's a lot of fun to build WooCommerce. So yeah, that's how to get ahold of me, and the one thing I wanted to plug.

Brad: I love it. We love hearing about jobs at great companies. Obviously, Automattic is a well known company for good reason, and WordPress, and an open source, so if you're looking, there's a lot of opportunities over there for WooCommerce and beyond. Right?

Timmy: Absolutely.

Brad: So there's other openings for other roles, so it might even just, if you're trying to get your foot in the door, I'm sure there's some more entry level positions as well. So if you're thinking about maybe doing a bit of a career shift, like Timmy did back in the day, and Bob did when he was 50.

Bob: Back in the day.

Brad: Start learning, and keep an eye on those roles, and maybe one will pop up, and go for it. Don't hold back. It never hurts to ask. Right?

Timmy: Like we say here at Automattic, never stop learning.

Brad: There you go. Never stop learning. Honestly, in my opinion, that's the number one thing. I like to hire people that are hungry to learn. You don't need to know everything, but if you have that passion in the web and what you do, and you're hungry and eager to learn, then I know you're going to be a good fit here. And I would imagine Automattic's the same way. But as always, thanks for listening, Do the Woo, number 104. Bob, where can people find you online, Bob?

Bob: They can find me online..

Brad: Everywhere.

Bob: Listen to this podcast, that's the best place. Just listen to me here because I always have somebody smarter than me on it, so that's always a good place to be.

Brad: Just search his name, BobWP. You'll find him.

Bob: Yeah. Just Google it.

Brad: I'm Williamsba on Twitter, so thanks for tuning in. And we'll catch you on the next Do the Woo.