Gary Leland Show Episode 11
This week I interview Patrick Rauland of WooCommerce.com and we discuss running succesful WooCommerce stores online. – Produced By PodcastRepairman.com
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Gary: Patrick thank you for joining me, this is a topic I am very excited to talk about. What exactly is Woo Commerce?
Patrick: Woo Commerce is a free plug in on Word Press, which will turn your site into an e-commerce store. It has all of the shopping pages, the check out, the payment gateways like PayPal, and order management. It does everything you need for e-commerce.
Gary: Now that is free but a lot of there are purchases you would have to make to use all of the features.
Patrick: Right, we use the freemium model, which we love because it gives people the opportunity to try it out and see if they like it before they start to invest money in it. A lot of people are fine with that but if you want extra functionality we do have extra stuff. If you really want to take your payments with authorize.net instead of PayPal or simplify commerce, we have hundreds of extra add-ons, one of which will allow you to use authorize.net.
Gary: I think that I have one that requires you to have a PayPal Pro account instead of a regular PayPal account, I have one for US Mail shipping that figures out weight and dimensions, and one for sales tax. I added these things right away, so can you explain what comes with the basic package.
Patrick: I think that most people start with the basic model first. What they get with that is unlimited products, they can check out with PayPal or Simplify Commerce for credit cards, and we use flat rate shipping. The reason we have it is because it is the easiest way to get started. For example you charge $5 and then an additional $2 per item. It’s usually pretty simple math. I love USPS, but you have to have an exact weight and exact dimensions for all of your products otherwise it won’t work.
Gary: I had put 30 or 40 items on and we had not done that so we had to go weight each item and measure each one so it would be accurate.
Patrick: We like to start simple. If it is your first e-commerce site ever, having weight and dimensions being required would be a hindrance to using the software.
Gary: So you’re saying that keeping it more basic makes it easier to get into?
Patrick: Absolutely, we make it easy and basic on purpose.
Gary: After you get into it, then you can start to upgrade your store because you are more comfortable with it.
Patrick: Yes, exactly. There are close to 400,000 Woo Commerce sites and we don’t have nearly that many customers, so there are plenty of people who are getting by with the free version of the site.
Gary: When it comes to the plugins, not counting a credit card processor, what would be your top plugins?
Patrick: I will start with my favorite plugin, which is free and can be found on WordPress.org. It is WordPress Google Analytics Integration and a lot of people don’t realize they need this. All you do is put in your Google analytics id and you are good to go. It adds e-commerce tracking to your site. The reason why it is so good is because you can see how many people go to your site from Facebook for example, and can see how much those people spent. It helps you quantify your sources of revenue. So if 1000 people are visiting from Facebook but they only spend $50, that tells you something. If you never get into the data, that’s fine, but you may as well install the plug in just in case you do become a data person at a later date.
Gary: That sounds like a great plugin! Are there any others that are worth checking out?
Patrick: The next one is not great for everyone, but I love it. It’s also on WordPress and is called Pushover and is also free. It basically sends you a “push” like a text message whenever you sell something. I know it sounds silly, but for first time storeowners who may not be selling more than an item a day, that one product is very exciting and can be motivating to continue trying.
Gary: I like that because whether you are a new or old store it is something you like getting. I thought I already had one from you but it’s not Pushover.
Patrick: There is also the iOS app for the iPhone. It works similarly but I have Pushover for several things. If I make money on different stores then you can get pushes into one app. The Woo Commerce app will give you full details while the push will just say that you have an order worth $50.
Gary: That is something that is nice to do when you are out and about with time to kill. You can take a look at it right then and there and analyze it a little more closely.
Patrick: Technically the Pushover app is $5, but it is a one-time investment that makes it basically free.
Gary: That is very true! Your title is Product Manager. What does that mean and what do you do in that role?
Patrick: That is a good question! The role was created about a month ago and I am the person who plans where the product, Woo Commerce, is going. We have a Head of Product who used to do all of the Woo Commerce planning, but now I do the planning and report to him. My sole job is making sure the right extensions are being built and the right features are going to be at Woo Commerce’s core, and that we are catering to all of the right niches. Things like that.
Gary: Have you had a chance to look at my Fastpitch.TV store?
Patrick: I have it pulled up right now. Do you have questions on it?
Gary: From all of your experience and all of the stores you have seen, does this one have a sound layout or do you wonder what I am doing with this store?
Patrick: First of all, the Fastpitch.tv/category/softball-store is your store archive page, which lists all of your products. If I go into a specific one, I think it is okay. Your buy button is several scrolls down when there is a YouTube video on the page. We like to keep our buy buttons near the top.
Gary: That is a great point! So you would recommend that the information and video should be underneath my buy button instead of above it.
Patrick: Yes. I also like to have the product title, price, and short description just as you have it that is perfect. I like to have all of the extra information below the buy button so that people who want the information will keep scrolling to read and watch it, but your customers don’t have to go through it just to hit “buy”.
Gary: So always start out with your purchase and then put the information below it because they may have seen it already on YouTube or Facebook. Let me ask you another question. It took me quite a while to figure out the Woo Commerce set up because I am not a technical person who writes code regularly. Is there a resource that you provide if people do need help?
Patrick: There are a couple of resources. If you go to WordPress.tv, and look for my name Patrick Rauland, I have a two-hour workshop that was recorded. It goes through how to set up the Woo Commerce site step by step. The exact title is “Patrick Rauland: Creating your Online Store. Here is the thing with Woo Commerce. E-commerce can be incredibly complex. There are so many ways to make money, to optimize your site, and to make your products better. Just start simple: listen to a podcast, follow a blog, and you will slowly absorb all of the finer points.
Gary: Getting back to an earlier question, is there an example of a really great looking Woo Commerce store?
Patrick: Yes, there are a couple of those on our home page, woothemes.com/woocommerce. We have three case studies on there right now. One is a person who sells cool socks. That may sound silly, but the way he is selling socks is pretty and attractive and makes it more than just going to Kohl’s and buying socks.
Gary: Do you change these out?
Patrick: Yes we do. There is also another resource of Woo Commerce, which is ProsPress.com. The woman who writes the blog does a wonderful job of writing about Woo Commerce and having occasional case studies that show what you can do. There is one website that I am a customer of because I love it so much. It’s called Smiles for the People. What they do is sell toothbrushes but they are on subscription. Every three months they send you a new toothbrush, which is how often you should be changing out your toothbrush, but no one does that. So every three months they use Woo Commerce Subscriptions to bill you before they send it to you.
Gary: I’m glad you mentioned Woo Commerce Subscriptions, how does that work?
Patrick: This is actually one of the big selling points for Woo Commerce because I think that we have a better subscription than any other platform out there. We have had one person dedicated to this for two years straight. That is all he does is make subscriptions better. What it does is allows you to create a subscription product, like a magazine or shaving club, and it integrates with probably 20 different payment gateways which is a lot. It will bill people at the appropriate times and you just have to fulfill the order yourself.
Gary: My niche is fastpitch softball. Right now for the App store and the Android market I have a magazine that people subscribe to. It is $12.95 a year and they receive a copy of the magazine on their phone or tablet every month, Apple collects the money and keeps the subscriptions open. I have so many people who want to receive that who are not with Apple or Android. So you are saying that I could have people subscribe to it and send it to the people on my list every month.
Patrick: Right. For digital goods it should be done automatically.
Gary: That would work perfectly for that then because I have been trying to find a solution to that issue.
Patrick: Every version this guy releases gets better and better. It’s getting really cool.
Gary: Getting back to the other question: do you have a database or resource for help?
Patrick: If you are looking for help from people like Woo Commerce experts, I suggest going to woothemes.com/affiliated-woo-workers. That site is a listing of people who have shown us that they do really good work and you can reach out to them with any of your issues. I am a really big fan of Codeable because they will sometimes fire you. If you don’t write a good enough product description they will tell you why it was bad, close the request, and make you open a new one. They force you to be very detailed in what you do so you can get an honest quote. You would think that being fired is a bad thing, but it’s not because they tell you exactly what you’re missing and what you need to fix. The whole process is miserable so if you get all of that out of the way ahead of time, then you are good to go.
Gary: Are there any Woo Commerce tips you have for us that we have not covered here today?
Patrick: As I said before, I think the best thing to do is to start simple. If you are trying to start an online store, launch it and start going. You can start to grow as you get experience with Woo Commerce. You will start to find the right shipping formula for example. The longer you wait to launch the store, the more potential revenue you could be losing.
Gary: That is a lot of people’s problem is that they won’t just get started and learn as they go. I learned a lot of great information here today. I really appreciate you spending the time talking with me today and for taking a look at my site and giving the personal tip. Is there somewhere where people can ask specific questions?
Patrick: If you are a paying customer, we have our support portal where we can help you with any problems. We don’t offer this for the free version of Woo Commerce because that is 400,000 websites. We also have pre-sales which will answer your questions about a product and what it is supposed to do and support. We do have a 30 day money back guarantee if you buy some software and it doesn’t work we will give you your money back.
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