If you’re a developer looking for technical details, read the release post on the Develop WooCommerce blog here.
It’s been a few months since our last major update, and in that time, we’ve been working on a veritable smorgasbord of improvements to WooCommerce. For 2.6, we’ve:
- Added shipping zones
- Improved the cart experience
- Created a new My Account area design
- Added new options for filtering products
- Made updates to the payment options available through the onboarding wizard
- Thrown in some goodies for developers, including a new payment tokenization and the alignment of our API with the WordPress REST API
That’s a lot of stuff for you to explore in the release of Zipping Zebra, so let’s dig into the details.
Shipping zones give you more flexibility
A few updates ago, we talked about our goal of making complex eCommerce functionality more simple and how we’d updated the onboarding experience in line with that goal. With this release, we’ve turned that same eye on shipping.
Before the latest release, store owners could configure shipping methods (flat rate, international, local pickup) to serve particular countries. But if they want to apply a shipping method to a few different locations, things got tricky.
This system is simple and works well for stores that only offer a few options. But we know that stores shipping to a wider variety of locations or with more methods ran into limitations. Enter shipping zones.
Now, store owners have much more flexibility.
It all starts with defining a zone, such as local, domestic, international and so on. A zone can be really specific (a certain ZIP or postal code) or fairly broad (a continent) and they can be made of any combination of geographies that’s relevant for you.
Then, store owners add the relevant shipping methods to each zone. You can still configure settings for each method, but now you can also manage what options are available for each zone in one place.
On the front end, customers will only see the options that are available wherever they are.
Subtle but meaningful improvements to what customers see
Where features like shipping zones make managing a store easier, what customers see on the front end directly impacts revenue and the success of your store. On that front, we’ve made some improvements in key areas.
First, we improved the performance and options for the layered navigation widget.
When you use this widget on a page, customers can select specific attributes to filter out products that don’t fit their needs. Now, we’ve added a feature to allow customers to filter by product rating.
Next, on the cart page, one of the critical last steps before purchase, we’ve made things smoother.
Before, when customers would add coupons, update shipping options or change quantities, they had to wait for the page to reload. Now, customers can make changes in their cart without reloading the page, creating a more seamless experience.
Finally, once customers make a purchase, they’ll use the My Accounts page to manage it — everything from seeing their orders, downloading a product (if applicable) or updating their account details.
With that in mind, we’ve made the My Account page much easier to navigate and more organized by adding a new tabbed design.
Stripe and PayPal now available through the onboarding wizard
The core of any eCommerce business is taking payments. That’s why your payment options are one of the things you set up when you first configure your store.
What options are available out-of-the-box is a delicate balance, though. We want users to be able to start selling with just WooCommerce, but also want to keep the code for these options separate so we can provide updates to them without needing to change WooCommerce itself.
With that in mind, we’ve pared down the options available in WooCommerce, and also simplified how you add more options.
Out-of-the-box, you can take credit card payments through the PayPal Standard gateway that’s built into WooCommerce. Now, we’ve made it easier to add more custom payment options by making Stripe and PayPal Powered by Braintree available directly in the onboarding wizard.
For existing customers, these gateways can also easily be added to your store from the WooCommerce Add-Ons screen.
Customers who already use these or other gateways won’t see any changes.
In keeping with the idea of simplifying what’s available in WooCommerce, Simplify Commerce is no longer built-in, but is now available as a separate free plugin. If you’re using this gateway, you’ll get a notification to update.
But wait, there’s more — some extra goodies for developers
With all those updates for managing your store and on the frontend, we didn’t forget about the developers that help build the wonderful world of Woo.
Here’s what’s new for you:
- A new payment token API: we’ve added a way to store, manipulate, and retrieve payment info in a standardized way. More here.
- Moving to an API based on the WP REST API: we introduced the WooCommerce API before there was a WordPress standard. Now, we’re moving in line with the community overall. Details here.
For a full write-up on all the technical changes, view the developer blog, including what templates have been updated. You can also learn how to fix outdated templates in our documentation.
Want these features? Just update
That’s it for what’s new in WooCommerce 2.6. Upgrade now from your WordPress Dashboard to get up to date.
Keep in mind that with any update, there’s a chance something might go wrong, so we recommend that you check out our documentation about how to update to ensure a smooth transition from previous versions.
If you need to get in touch with us about an issue, here’s what to do:
- Think you’ve found a bug with 2.6 or a conflict with another plugin? Report it to us via our GitHub issue tracker.
- Having trouble with the upgrade? Visit our support page to open a ticket.
- Just want to chat about Zipping Zebra, or have a great idea for the next version? Start the discussion on the public WooCommerce forums at WordPress.org.
Please note that we are not able to diagnose or solve potential issues via blog comments. The fastest way to get in touch with us is via one of the methods listed above. But we are always excited to read your feedback in the comments.
Remember: you should always make a backup before you update, and update your WooCommerce extensions prior to updating WooCommerce itself.
For specific things to look out for with 2.6, potential compatibility issues and ongoing updates are on the dev blog.
What do you think of the Zipping Zebra? Let us know in the comments!