Getting the Most from WooCommerce with Less Effort

WooCommerce is, hands down, a behemoth of an eCommerce platform. Boasting a hefty 29% market share of all eCommerce websites, there’s a good chance you’ve used it and may be considering using it yourself.

It’s easy to see why so many choose WooCommerce as their platform of choice: it’s super simple to set up on a WordPress website, integrates easily with many of the major payment platforms, and is highly extendable. What’s more, WooCommerce is open source, so you’re not charged anything for just using the software.

Sounds great, right? So what’s the catch?

If your goal is to just start up a simple store and sell your products, go for it! WooCommerce makes it easy to showcase and sell your products. The internal reporting is pretty decent as well — you’ll be able to see a few different graphs of sales trends, customers, etc. However, if you’re looking to integrate this data with outside sources or extend the functionality of your store, WooCommerce and its surrounding extensions tend to fall short.

The Extension Nightmare

If you’re not a developer or don’t have the internal resources to develop your own extension to WooCommerce, you’re in for frequent frustration. While there are a decent number of free WooCommerce extensions that seem like they’ll do what you’re looking for, you’ll quickly find many fall short of your goal. This isn’t anyone’s fault — it’s likely that you have very specific specifications that simply haven’t been built out yet. You might find an extension that does most of what you’re looking for. From there, you’re going to have to tap into your Google-Fu and sail around Stack Overflow to figure out how to make the necessary coding edits to get the rest of the way.

Or you’ll have to just live with what you got.

The paid extension market isn’t much better — many of the premium extensions from third party developers will appear to do whatever it is you’re looking for, but you’ll eventually find many of them just as lacking as the free extensions.

That’s not to say there aren’t some truly great extensions out there, or that many of these “lacking” extensions won’t do what you’re looking for. Just know that you’re likely in for a ride and a good chunk of shopping around and testing different solutions before you find something you can live with.

The Integration Headache

Oftentimes, you’ll want to report on the data generated by WooCommerce. The internal reports are great on their own, but they live in WooCommerce. A solid integration with other software can do wonders for your business, but if you want this data elsewhere, you’re going to have to find another solution. You have a few options for this: a WooCommerce extension, a webhook, or develop your own solution.

With Zapier, All Is Not Lost

For the money, your best bet is going to be a webhook. This will require some development chops, but using webhooks can provide you with most of what you want. If you head over to the WordPress dashboard, click on WooCommerce, then click on the Advanced tab in the Settings menu, you can find a sub-tab called Webhooks. WooCommerce provides you with a simple wizard to set up the webhook, which will send data after a specified action to whatever URL you provide.

This is where you can either spin up a webhook handler on your own server infrastructure, or you can go with the admittedly simpler and powerful option: Zapier. (We like Zapier. We even wrote and article about the workflows made possible with Zapier.)

Shoot your webhook over to Zapier and watch the possibilities unfold. Suddenly, integrating this data into Marketing Automation systems like Hubspot or ActiveCampaign becomes a lot easier and more intuitive.

The Zapier solution isn’t bulletproof, however. Zapier is great but doesn’t cover everything (yet). If you’re finding the integrations offered by Zapier to be lacking, you’re going to have to go with the last solution: a custom build. It’s likely, however, that you can start your custom solution with the data provided by the WooCommerce webhook.

We’re actually pretty handy with integrations here at obo. Agency, so if you’re looking for help finding the perfect eCommerce customization or integration, let us know and we’ll work with you to get your store up and running.