Since day one, WordPress co-founder and CEO of Automattic Matt Mullenweg’s mission for WordPress has been the democratization of publishing.
And when Automattic last May acquired WooThemes, makers of WooCommerce, the popular ecommerce plugin, Mullenweg shared an idea to create a solution where it’s as easy publish stores online as WordPress has made it to publish websites.
WordPress Democratizes Publishing
Democratizing publishing is ambitious, and it’s something that WordPress achieves with grace. Users can easily spin up a free site on Automattic’s WordPress.com or for a low cost by signing up with a WordPress host. With thousands of free plugins to choose from, users can elegantly add almost any functionality to their site, making it possible for anyone to be a publisher — true democratization.
The open-source software is maintained and improved by a growing and thriving community of developers, designers, bloggers, and others, many of whom have built successful WordPress-powered companies. All of these factors fueled WordPress’ rise as the platform of choice for small businesses and enterprises alike and have been driving forces in its growth.
WooCommerce Mirrors WordPress’ Success
WooThemes, a successful company with WordPress at the center of its business model, in many ways mirrors the success and growth of WordPress itself.
Just as WordPress is the most popular CMS, WooCommerce is the single most popular ecommerce solution. Similarly, it too has a robust and growing ecosystem surrounding it, with a growing number of plugins built specifically to enhance and extend its functionality.
Where other ecommerce solutions may not offer certain functionality, with WordPress you can find an existing plugin that offers the feature you want or ask someone to write it for you. With WordPress and WooCommerce, anything is possible.
Like WordPress and publishing, WooCommerce is empowering anyone to spin up an ecommerce store, and democratizing the world of online sales.
WooCommerce Connect could be Automattic’s inroad to making WooCommerce as easy to use as services like Shopify or BigCommerce.
The appeal of WooCommerce Connect is that you don’t have to do the “register for yet another account -> get API key -> drop API key into settings -> test -> verify” mambo. All of that functionality will be available on Automattic’s servers and will simply need to be “activated.” While real-time USPS shipping rates is currently the only feature available on Connect, I suspect other core functionality like taxes and payment gateways will be added in the near future.
The new Storefront 2.0 theme features several big improvements and feature changes that make sites look more like a store and less like a blog. Combined with the fact that WordPress is already the platform of choice for small businesses, it’s likely to outcompete solutions like Squarespace and Wix.
All of the improvements to WooCommerce could be beneficial for the entire community as it could help WordPress move away from its antiquated reputation as a “blogging platform” and toward a platform where digital opportunities are endless, whether that’s creating a personal blog or an enterprise ecommerce site.
The acquisition of WooThemes was a wise investment for Automattic. The two companies align perfectly in terms of ethos and mission, and it also allows Mullenweg to explore the ecommerce ecosystem, an area in which he expressed interest during a live interview at TechCrunch Disrupt NY in 2014:
Alexia Tsotsis: You built WordPress when you were 19. If you were 19 right now, what would you build?
Matt Mullenweg: I would focus on the eCommerce side [. . .] on the eCommerce side there’s been some great services, Shopify and others, but nothing that’s really open source that has the same ease of use, that same scalability . . .
With WooCommerce, Mullenweg aims to do for online stores what WordPress has done for publishing. I look forward to seeing more great things to come from WooMattic as it further democratizes ecommerce.