One of the benefits of e-commerce is the opportunity to significantly scale your business and profit margins relative to some other business models. In addition to sales and marketing strategies for growth, successfully scaling your business requires planning for new demands on your hosting and website.
It’s important to have your foundation in place so that you don’t experience growing pains and expensive technical glitches as you grow.WooCommerce helps thousands of e-commerce businesses across multiple industries scale revenue. Click To Tweet
Let’s look at the technical considerations to plan for to scale your business and how WooCommerce can help you succeed.
What Does Scalability Mean?
In the context of online platforms, scalability relates to three areas:
Performance: can the system handle increased traffic and order volume without bottlenecks or breaking? For example, in the early days of e-commerce, websites would slow or crash during peak shopping season because the network could not scale to accommodate the traffic spikes. Over time, hosting and network technology improved as cloud computing dramatically increased scalability.
Recoverability: If the site does experience problems, how fast can the company get back to business as usual? Uptime is the critical variable here.
Maintenance: How easy is it to maintain the site? Websites that require lots of manual coding for updates, plug-ins, or changes are technically not scalable. As the site grows, manual intervention becomes more expensive and takes longer to complete.
Scaling for E-commerce Stores
In terms of e-commerce, there are two primary technical considerations: the hosting provider for the site and the storefront software the owner uses to build the shop.
We’ll go over considerations for your website later in the post, but even the best website can’t scale if it’s sitting on the wrong hosting platform. Lets look at hosting considerations first.
Optimizing Hosting for Scaling an E-commerce Business
One advantage to WooCommerce is that you are free to choose your hosting provider. You are not locked into one specific WooCommerce hosting plan.
Your hosting provider is the foundation for your website performance. Some providers have pricing increases that kick in if traffic to your site spikes. Check with your current hosting provider and ask about any traffic or resource limitations.
If you think it may be time to change hosting providers, the time to do so is before you start to scale to avoid growing pains in the middle of your expansion. If your strategy is to scale your business, you need a provider with a network optimized to handle growth. Look for providers that host large e-commerce stores with good reviews from customers.
Create a checklist to compare how the different companies stack up based on the following features:
- How do they handle traffic spikes? Are there costs involved?
- Do they have dedicated servers?
- What are their metrics for uptime and recoverability?
- Can you pay as you grow via a staggered hosting plan? Compare hosting costs at the top end of your growth plans; you don’t want to have to switch hosting later if costs for large businesses are prohibitive.
- You need to be able to focus on e-commerce, not server performance. Ask them about their back-end maintenance, server configuration, and how they keep up with the latest PHP and MYSQL versions.
- Do they offer a Content Delivery Network and caching tools to optimize site performance and speed?
Scaling with WooCommerce
Once your hosting fundamentals are locked in, it’s time to look at some crucial areas where WooCommerce helps you scale your business.
Flat rate, transparent pricing
No one wants to work hard to build their business just to see their operating costs go up and eat into their profit margins. Many other e-commerce platforms increase their fees as a percentage of sales or per transaction. With WooCommerce, your transaction costs actually go down as your shop scales!
Customers want to browse, select and purchase items without issues. The industry term for this is “frictionless experiences.” Friction in the customer journey contributes to increased churn and cart abandonment.
Gartner predicts that by 2025, stores offering a unified commerce experience by frictionlessly moving customers through journeys will see at least a 20% uplift in total revenue. WooCommerce helps you design a frictionless experience even as you scale sales and serve more customers.
As your sales increase, your number of customers will increase as well, and you’ll need a plan for customer service. Some of the top help-desk and customer service companies have plugins for WooCommerce. Live chat offers live chat, an automated chatbot, and options for building a knowledge base. ZenDesk Support for WooCommerce helps you manage all customer support issues in one place.
Built for Large Volume
WooCommerce has no built-in limits on products or variations, and you can also import an unlimited number of products. As long as your hosting platform supports the volume, WooCommerce software can power thousands of transactions per minute. What’s more, WooCommerce can also deal with traffic spikes, flexing to accommodate the load.
Testing Your Store for Scalability
As you optimize your site for growth, you’ll want to consider testing it before you launch major promotions or other growth plans and be able to track site performance going forward.
Consider load testing your site for increased traffic, customers, and transactions. Keep in mind that page load time becomes more critical for busier sites. Kissmetrics estimates a 1-second delay on an e-commerce site selling $100,000 per day could cost the company $2.5 million per year in lost sales.
Google Chrome’s performance analysis tool tracks how long the store takes to load. It also details which elements are taking the most time. The WooCommerce Google Analytics extension tracks add-to-cart calls. Average add-to-cart calls per minute are a good indication of server performance.
Additional website speed testing tools include Pingdom and Google PageSpeed Tools, which allow you to test the speed of each page and provide you with suggestions on how to improve load time.
Examples of Large WooCommerce Stores
WooCommerce powers thousands of e-commerce stores in multiple industries. Here are a few that illustrate the diversity of companies that rely on WooCommerce:
Paul Mitchell Schools Training: Paul Mitchell Schools offer career-focused education in cosmetology.
BIPA Beauty: One of the largest health and beauty retail chains in Europe.
Ryanair Corporate: Ryanair Corporate is the portal for Ryanair Holdings plc, Europe’s largest airline group.
Scan2CAD: Scan2CAD is the world’s leading conversion software built for engineering and design, allowing you to convert your designs for CAD.
Output: Output develops innovative software instruments for musicians, composers, producers, and sound designers across all genres.
Airstream: Airstream Supply Company is the new premium retail brand from 80-year-old brand Airstream, the world’s most iconic travel trailer.
ClickBank: A top 100 online retailer with 200 million customers, selling digital products worldwide.
Tiny Wood Stove: how one blog post about wood-burning stoves for tiny spaces turned into a flourishing million-dollar online business.
You can also check out over 680 stores and filter them for your industry on the WooCommerce showcase page.
Are You Ready to Scale Your WooCommerce Store?
When you decide to scale your store, you’ll see that you have a wide range of WooCommerce choices. To avoid overwhelm, start reviewing your current setup, what’s working and what doesn’t serve the growth plan. Then create tests for increased website demand before you get there. That way, you can scale your business with manageable growing pains instead of downtime and stress.
This post gives you a starting place for your scaling strategy. You can also check out this free resource from CheckoutWC