WooCommerce is the biggest, baddest, most popular e-commerce plugin for WordPress, which, by extension, also makes it the most popular e-commerce platform of them all.

But how did the journey begin? Was WooCommerce always the top dog right from day one?

According to current data, WooCommerce runs ~30% of all e-commerce stores, and the number has only been increasing. There is a very good reason for this. To say it simply, WooCommerce has it all – all the features that a new online store owner might need, all the extensibility, all the design options you can imagine (with the help of some optimized WooCommerce themes). Plus, with WooCommerce’s ever-growing community, the number of those options has only been rising.

So, coming back to the original question, how did it all start?

Here’s a look into the colorful history of WooCommerce, plus where your favorite e-commerce platform is likely headed next.

The history of WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a free, open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress that dominates the market at this point. Though now owned by Automattic, WooCommerce began its life as a creation of a company called WooThemes.

WooThemes logo

πŸ‘Ά The early days

Mark Forrester, Magnus Jepson, and Adii Pienaar officially launched WooThemes after selling themes together as “Premium News Theme” providers.

Their working relationship was built entirely online because it wasn’t until April 2009 that the trio decided to meet for the first time, as you can see in this original email:

email

How’s that for a remote work success story?

Between 2009 to 2011, a few noteworthy WooThemes events occurred:

Canvas theme

wootrip

Hiro

Source: Facebook

But as it soon became clear, a new project was about to take over the focus of the entire company…

To create WooCommerce, the WooThemes team hired Mike Jolley and Jay Koster, then developers at Jigowatt. The two were freelancers for Jigowatt and worked on an e-commerce platform called JigoShop.

JigoShop

Eventually, they had to let their involvement with JigoShop go when it was sold to another company.

And so, WooCommerce is born!

πŸš€ The WooCommerce era

WooCommerce was initially released on September 27, 2011.

The original launch post is still online, albeit now moved over to WooCommerce.com – a new site created in place of the original WooThemes.com.

WooCommerce launch

After its release, WooCommerce took the WordPress world by storm, achieving 1 million downloads in just under two years (June 2013). A year later (August 2014), the plugin’s growth quadrupled — WooCommerce was downloaded 4 million times!

In November 2014, WooThemes held the first WooCommerce Conference in San Francisco, drawing over 300 people from around the world.

At the same time, the company also launched its first free theme, Storefront.

Storefront

In 2015, WooCommerce achieved 7 million downloads, powering 30% of all online stores, and was acquired by Automattic. To be sure, 2015 was a huge year for WooCommerce.

πŸ’Έ WooCommerce acquisition by Automattic

In a blog post dated May 19, 2015, Automattic founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg announced that his company was acquiring WooCommerce.

He shares how he got the idea to do so on his blog,

“At a WordCamp a few years ago, someone stood up and asked me when we were going to make it as easy to create an online store as we’d made it to create a blog. Everyone applauded; there’s long been demand for better ecommerce functionality, but it’s been outside the scope of what Automattic could do well.”Matt Mullenweg

Some of the reasons why Mullenweg chose to acquire WooCommerce include:

  • It's created by a team of 55 people distributed in over 16 countries, much like Automattic itself.
  • The majority of WooCommerce was open-source & 100% GPL (General Public License). Also, there were WooCommerce meetups around the world, like there are WordPress meetups. In other words, there was already a community built around the tool.
  • WooCommerce numbers were impressive, and they're the best in the field.

No details were given to how much Automattic paid for WooCommerce, but Re/Code speculates the number to be around $30 million.

The only thing that’s left of WooThemes after the acquisition is their WordPress.org profile.

πŸ“ˆ WooCommerce now: WooCommerce stats and numbers

WooCommerce has more than 4,000,000 active installs at this point and it’s been downloaded a total of 56,923,618 times!

The most recent WooCommerce version is 3.5.2 and it can be downloaded from:

Some of the key WooCommerce abilities include:

  • πŸ›οΈ The possibility to sell anything, anywhere
  • 🚒 Ship wherever you like
  • πŸ’Έ Extensive payment options
  • πŸ‘ Fully open source
  • 🎨 Interchangeable themes and styles
  • πŸ”Œ Loads of extensions available
  • πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Ί Full GDPR compliance

WooCommerce powers nearly 30% of all online stores, and the number isn’t expected to go down anytime soon.

Compared to the other e-commerce platforms, WooCommerce also has the largest collection of themes that can be used with it. There are 1,200+ WooCommerce themes on ThemeForest and 800+ more themes in the WordPress.org directory that indicate WooCommerce compatibility.

Add to that, WooCommerce’s functionality can also be extended via official extensions as well as third-party plugins.

The official extension directory offers around 300 extensions, plus you can find another 5,000+ plugins when you search with “WooCommerce” in the WordPress.org plugins directory. Add CodeCanyon to the mix, and you have another 1,400+ WooCommerce plugins.

Final thoughts

WooCommerce is undoubtedly the most popular e-commerce solution in the market today, dominating the space while also building up WordPress’ share of the CMS landscape.

A lot has happened between the period of time when WooThemes initially started developing WooCommerce, to when it was eventually acquired by Automattic, and the WooCommerce versions you see today.

What do you think is next in line for WooCommerce? What features would you like to see? Submit a comment below or tweet at @CodeInWP.

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