Is WooCommerce scalable for running B2B Wholesale Store operations smoothly?
WooCommerce is a dominant force in the eCommerce industry. Powered by WordPress, it is an open-source plugin that provides unmatched functionality that allows anyone to start an eCommerce venture for free.
But that’s just the surface of what the plugin promises. The plugin itself supports a majority of paid and free plugins that let you boost your eCommerce operations even further. From integrating a referral and rewards system to the layout of your site, WooCommerce promises customizability at every level.
Even with all its potential, critics point to two fatal flaws within WooCommerce. The first one being its inability to scale with your business, and the other its failure to support wholesale operations.
This article is aimed at removing that criticism. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will understand the potential of WooCommerce as both a scalable solution and the right fit for B2B wholesale operations.
But before we begin, let’s talk about the very concepts of scalability and the features of a wholesale eCommerce store.
What is Scalability?
Before talking about how scalable WooCommerce is, we first have to talk about the concept of scalability and why it’s essential for businesses.
In simple terms, scalability refers to the potential of your website to handle increases in traffic, pages, and content as your business grows. If it’s not scalable, then it will inevitably start facing performance issues such as slow load times and, in the worst case, go down entirely.
If your site is loading sluggishly, you’re going to see a rise in bounce rates. As a result, you’ll eventually see a sharp decline in your SERP rankings.
What is B2B Wholesale and How It Would Look on WooCommerce?
A B2B wholesale store sells products and services to consumers in bulk quantities. It is the exact opposite of retail commerce where the product quantities being purchased are generally low and not in bulk. Another differentiating factor between the two is that while retail stores are consumer-facing, wholesale stores are retail facing.
To put it simply, wholesale stores, sell the products to retail outlets and distributors from consumer use. Both of these eCommerce trades have their own set of differentiating factors at both the eCommerce level and regular commerce.
A wholesale eCommerce store comes with the following features:
- Multiple pricing levels for different customers
- Price settings according to user roles with provisions for discounts
- Percentage based or fixed value accounts
- Points and rewards for referrals
- Category division based on wholesale and retail products
- Show hide/content product content. Users have to sign up to view products
- Quick ordering process
…among many others. These are some of the essential features required in a wholesale store. For its part, WooCommerce has provisions for all these features in the form of plugins, add-ons, and extensions. Using these, you can make your wholesale store more efficient, even on WooCommerce.
WooCommerce Scaling: The Two Requirements
As discussed above, a general myth about WooCommerce is that it cannot scale. But that’s just a misinformed opinion. In reality, WooCommerce is the exact opposite of that myth. It’s flexibility as a platform, backed by a community of developers, makes it an excellent choice for stores looking to scale.
We’ve already talked about the concept of scalability in the previous section. With that concept in mind, let’s look at the two important considerations which are detrimental to scaling your WooCommerce store.
Themes and Plugins
All of the themes and plugins you install on your store can impact its performance. Experts, therefore, always recommend using plugins and themes that are well-optimized and don’t add too much weight to your store.
The following are some crucial details you should look with plugins and themes:
- Development Activity:
Finding out when the plugin or theme was created, it’s latest release dates, and its compatibility with recent WordPress versions.
How well-written is the documentation? Does it provide thorough installations and usage instructions?
Is there active customer support available for the plugin?
From the ratings and reviews, you can find out whether the plugin well-received or not.
- Load Speeds:
Is the theme demo loading slowly? If it is, then there might be some problem with the code base and scripts. In that scenario, it’s best if you avoid that theme since it might affect your site performance in the future.
The amount of traffic a WooCommerce store can handle is directly proportional to the hosting environment. There are various types of hosting available online, and the scalability of your site will depend on whether or not you’ve chosen the right one.
To select a hosting company that promises scalability, these are some of the details you should look for:
- The number of sites on the server. Is your server dedicated, managed, private, or shared? If your store is growing, then you should look for a managed hosting option like WPEngine or a VPS (Virtual Private Server).
- How much bandwidth does your host provide? If you’ve subscribed to a hosting option that has less disk space, you might want to upgrade it so that your site can handle scaling requirements.
- How much is the server downtime? Now, this factor can only be found out by reading the reviews because hosting companies always promise 99% uptime. If you see discrepancies in their promise, it’s best to switch to a host that promises such uptime and delivers. In any case, reading customer reviews and testimonials can give you more insights into a hosting company.
- Is your host providing you with room to grow? You can make sure of that by seeing their hosting options. If they have multiple plans for you to upgrade to, then you’re all set.
- Is your host providing the most updated versions of PHP, solid-state drivers, and enterprise-level hardware? If so, then it’s a pretty good indication that they care about speed.
If you’re not sure about where to start, it’s always good to consult your hosting provider about what kind of hosting you want for your store. If they are unable to guide you, then it best you part ways with them. More often than not, however, they will guide you in the right direction.
How to Avoid Growing Pains While Scaling
If your wholesale WooCommerce store is growing smoothly and you want to avoid future growing pains, WooCommerce by itself provides a lot of flexibility. Additionally, you can take the following steps to further your scalability efforts.
- Choose the correct host. Even though we’ve discussed this above, it is essential to note that a good host will guarantee a successful and scaled website from the outset so your WooCommerce store can run appropriately without any traffic or resource limitations.
- Clean up your site’s code. Make sure to optimize your website for performance by removing useless plugins that just take space and slow your site down.
- Keep everything updated. You can install plugins like WordFence that guarantee security and alerts you when something is not updated.
- Set up a CDN (Content Delivery Network) like Jetpack to speed up your site even further by serving websites to users from their CDN servers instead of yours.
With all that we’ve said, WooCommerce has some potential, but for the absolute beginner, it has a bit of a learning curve. That said, with time, you can gain serious experience with WooCommerce once you get the hang of it.
All in all, if you’re an entrepreneur or a business owner looking for a normally priced solution to build your eCommerce store, then WooCommerce is your best choice to create a professional online storefront. Furthermore, you can also add B2B to functionality to your existing WooCommerce store by adding B2B specific plugins like B2B eCommerce for WooCommerce.
Rai Jibran is an eComm enthusiastic and works at Codup. Playing with the analytical data and digging into useful insights is his most favorite thing to do. Besides work, he is passionate about contributing to the communities and helping others. Follow him on WordPress and LinkedIn.