Can WooCommerce Scale?

Written by Lynn Jatania on October 19, 2021 Blog, Build your business.

Whether you’re an enterprise-level company looking for a new eCommerce solution or a small business with big dreams, you might be wondering whether WooCommerce is the right fit. Can it scale to meet your current business or future growth?

The answer is “Yes, WooCommerce has your back!” List all the products and variations you need, handle thousands of transactions per day, and give every customer — anywhere in the world — a great experience. Let’s take a closer look.

What does it mean to be scalable?

Scalability is being able to expand as needed to handle your business as it grows. A scalable eCommerce platform should:

  • Offer a high quality of service. Customers should continue to see your shop load quickly and find what they want right away no matter how large it grows. It won’t go down during times of peak demand or sudden traffic spikes.
  • Respond quickly to growth. Your eCommerce platform should be able to effortlessly expand, without you having to worry about storage, product, or service limits.

Keep costs balanced. Extra sales shouldn’t mean that your platform continues to get more and more expensive. True growth in profits happens when your shop costs are relatively static, while sales go through the roof.

ISC website, an enterprise business built on WooCommerce
ISC Sales uses WooCommerce to list more than 17,000 products.

How WooCommerce scales

Simply put, WooCommerce is built to scale. Whether your shop is just starting out, or already dealing with thousands of international transactions per day, it’s up to the challenge.

It includes unlimited products and variations

While other online eCommerce platforms restrict the number of products or variations you can have, WooCommerce has no built-in limits. Your platform is your own, and you have full control over all aspects. There are no rules when it comes to how many products you can have in your shop. Do you have hundreds of thousands of products? No problem — WooCommerce can handle a million products if you need.

In addition, you can import as many products as required instead of being held to limits like with other platforms.

It’s built for large volumes of orders

WooCommerce regularly powers shops with thousands of transactions per minute. While you require the support of a good host, the software itself is ready and able to handle a huge volume of simultaneous sales.

In addition, WooCommerce is built to handle spikes in traffic. If you have a promotional sale, launch a hot new product, or land a feature on a major website or magazine, then a properly optimized shop can handle the resulting rush.

Nalgene home page, a large store built on WooCommerce
Nalgene is a large store built with WooCommerce that receives a lot of daily traffic.

It has flat rate pricing

Unlike other eCommerce stores that take a percentage of each sale or charge per transaction, WooCommerce setup costs are the same whether you’re selling just one item or thousands. As your shop scales, your per-transaction costs actually go down. The additional profit is yours to keep. 

The code is optimized for scalability

At WooCommerce, scalability is always a focus. The core development team, a global group of the world’s top-most experts, constantly works to update and optimize code to meet the latest needs in performance, security, and design. Updates are issued on a regular basis — and free of charge — so stores always have access to the most recent innovations.

WooCommerce also features a library of extensions created by reliable teams and vetted by both WooCommerce pros and the community of store owners. Extensions add specific functions to your store without having to pay a developer to create a solution from scratch. The result is an efficient, reliable, and ready-to-go solution for almost any required functionality.

You can choose any host you’d like

Unlike other proprietary platforms like Shopify or Wix, you can run your WooCommerce store on any host you’d like. You have the flexibility to find the perfect provider for your current needs.

When it comes to scalability, this means that you have the power to find a host that can match your traffic and sales at any given moment. Choose a hosting company that understands big business, server optimization, and WooCommerce, so that you know they can provide the speed you need. Look for a hosting package that includes:

  • Dedicated or VPS servers that provide the bandwidth you require.
  • No caps on resources, and the ability to handle spikes in traffic.
  • A good reputation for uptime and service.
  • A range of hosting plans, so it’s easy to move up as you grow.
  • Expert server configuration, including the latest PHP and MYSQL versions and WordPress-specific server speed optimization settings.
  • CDN and caching tools.

Remember, your hosting company is your biggest ally and partner in building your business. Choose carefully, and make sure you have a plan that can provide the services you need with reliability.

You can incorporate powerful upgrades

WordPress provides an expandable base for advanced features and custom development with the REST API. Need special functionality to support your growing business? You can find a developer that can create a solution just for you.

options available in the WooCommerce extension library

But the best part is that there’s probably already an extension that does what you need. For example, you might want:

  • Automated marketing tools (like AutomateWoo) that can increase sales with follow-up emails, coupons, and customer rewards.
  • Shipping add-ons (like ShipStation) that streamline the fulfillment process for large order volumes.
  • Merchandizing tools (like Product Table for WooCommerce) that can help shoppers find and buy multiple items at once. 
  • Warehouse tools (like Scanventory) to track large-scale inventory and keep orders and deliveries flowing. 
  • Support for international shoppers with extensions like WooCommerce MultiCurrency and payment gateways that work for customers around the world.
  • Wholesale tools (like Wholesale For WooCommerce) that empower B2B transactions.

WooCommerce scalability in the real world

Don’t take our word for it! There are lots of enterprise-level stores powered by WooCommerce. Here are a few examples:

  • Dr. Scholl’s, a well-known brand with dozens of products sold through different localized websites worldwide.
  • Nalgene, another famous company that uses WooCommerce to showcase dozens of products with many variations.
  • ISC Sales, an industrial company that uses WooCommerce for online sales of more than 17,000 products.
  • ClickBank, a top 100 online retailer with 200 million customers.

Unprecedented control, incredible efficiency, and endless growth potential 

WooCommerce is the go-to platform for many eCommerce stores because it provides full creative control. Growing brands don’t fit a particular mold; they create their own. And unlike closed platforms like Shopify, you can customize WooCommerce as much as you want. 

The most profitable stores have streamlined processes and minimal waste.  And with powerful, reliable extensions and no limits on growth, you can build the perfect solution for your unique store, no matter how much you grow.

But, as scalable as WooCommerce is, there is some work that needs to be done on your end to ensure optimal results. Refer to our How to Scale WooCommerce checklist for a more detailed guide.

Ready to get started? Build your store with our easy-to-use setup wizard.

Visit the extensions marketplace to customize your store

8 Responses

  1. Andrew
    October 19, 2021 at 2:45 pm #

    IMHO without custom WooCommerce db tables, it isn’t truly scalable. Yes, I have built a 60,000 product store on Woo, however as more orders come in, the DB is extremely bloated, and migrations are a nightmare. I really hope we don’t have to migrate to another platform because of this issue.

    Until you add custom WooCommerce db tables, it isn’t truly scalable.

    • L
      October 19, 2021 at 3:25 pm #

      This, the tragedy here is that the most popular store today on shopify was using woocommerce, they even scaled until 2000/orders per minute.

      But then.. it broke. That store is Colourpop.

      • Johann Steinwand
        October 23, 2021 at 7:41 pm #

        They customized their WooCommerce store to run faster. As the dev of colourpop said himself in a blog post: WooCommerce is scalable.

        They switched to shopify to scale even more. This needed a lot of customization with Shopify, you can read it on the website of the agency who did it for them.

        And you can also find how their shopify store crashed because of the large traffic.

        It’s an interesting topic, would be interesting to know why they moved to shopify and if their happy today.

  2. KoolPal
    October 19, 2021 at 3:31 pm #

    Once should visit https://github.com/woocommerce/woocommerce/issues/30228 before jumping to conclusions!
    Thanks

  3. Justin Wideman
    October 20, 2021 at 2:23 pm #

    I have built out large variation products and more than 2k times out servers. I have a product with 56k options (size, price, weight, etc) that is unusable and I needed to break it down into multiple products (size, then options) to work.

    This is more of a social media gal’s not-so-humble brag self-advertisement article content piece and not based on science or speed tests. It just promotes and links to their paid plugins. It’s a juicy title for a blog post.

    I will always use Woo over other products, but it is not “truly scalable” the way Magento or others are for complex product options. The DB, and the way it uses variations so strenuously is not ready for the big leagues. It is improving (I’ve been with it since 2008), but still a work in progress.

    I will gladly open my large e-comm site to a Woo dev to prove me wrong.

    Big-commerce used to be a free WordPress e-comm plugin before going to its own subscription model to control all the moving parts like hosting/DB/server load, etc.

  4. loranallensmith
    October 20, 2021 at 8:53 pm #

    Howdy everybody! 👋 I’m Allen, a developer advocate for WooCommerce at Automattic. I just wanted to reach out here to introduce myself and thank folks for sharing these comments on the limitations that stores can run into. In the GitHub issue linked above (https://github.com/woocommerce/woocommerce/issues/30228), you’ll see there is quite a bit of discussion happening around custom database tables. The teams who maintain WooCommerce are aware of this need and continue to explore different approaches. Implementing such a consequential architectural change is a complex challenge in WooCommerce’s ecosystem and we want to make sure that whatever solution we put forward is as minimally disruptive to merchants and their customers as possible.

    For folks who are interested in finding out more about the engineering work happening around scaling or custom database tables, be sure to follow the WooCommerce Developer Blog (https://developer.woocommerce.com/blog). In the meantime, if folks have questions or want to voice their concerns privately, you can reach out to me in the WooCommerce Community Slack or email me at allen.smith@automattic.com.

    • Justin Wideman
      November 5, 2021 at 1:39 pm #

      Maybe there should be a WooPro for heavy users. I run many stores and for the average mom-and-pop type store, they just need Shopify-level stuff, colors, sizes, prices, inventory, the way Woo was intended. However, I do also run on an enterprize level store that does run into limitations with the database, etc.

      Would Woo fork the current code into something more geared to large architectures and reduce the number of redundancies in variations that bloat the DB?

  5. andrew
    October 27, 2021 at 6:58 am #

    thank you for worthy questions and worthy replies, somehow learned a new thing

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