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Note: This is a guest post from Kirby Prickett. Kirby is the Storyteller at Prospress, an eCommerce software company. Prospress builds extensions for the WooCommerce platform, including top-seller Subscriptions, as well as One Page Checkout and PayPal Digital Goods. Find more of Kirby’s eCommerce musings on the Prospress blog, or connect with her on Twitter.
One of the best things about WooCommerce is its extensibility. Developers can (and do!) build whatever they can dream of on the WooCommerce platform.
This means there are many different WooCommerce extensions and plugins available to store owners in the WooCommerce marketplace. Want to sell your time online? There’s an extension for that. Want to allow pre-orders? There’s an extension for that, too.
This post will showcase four very different eCommerce sites that use a specific WooCommerce extension or compatible plugin to support their businesses.
Extensions in this article
Based in New England, Lobster Anywhere has been supplying wholesale live lobsters and premium seafood throughout the United States for more than three decades.
Here’s what Joe Bowab, the CEO of Lobster Anywhere, had to say about the Sand Dollars program:
What’s the name of your Points and Rewards program?
We call it Sand Dollars. We have a good deal of repeat customers, so we have to take care of them.
What is the biggest benefit of your Sand Dollars rewards program?
What’s nice about reward points is that they encourage customers to register and stay connected with our company. The Sand Dollars are shown on the product page and at the cart level. This gives customers the extra incentive to purchase.
Any plans for the future of Sand Dollars?
We have not done a great job promoting the program, but plan to give it a boost via email. Since we have been online since before the dot.com bust, it’s our loyal seafood lovers who have stuck with us. We have close to 90K email subscribers. We could push certain products by doubling points received as well as encourage referrals. It is a great way to re-engage customers.
As you can see, Lobster Anywhere are putting their rewards program to good use in staying connected to their large database of customers.
Sensei isn’t truly a WooCommerce extension since it focuses on creating and managing courses (and can be used without WooCommerce), but it integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce to sell access to those courses. Sensei can be used to easily create a WooCommerce-powered e-learning or membership site.
I asked David Jamieson, one of the founders of Vitruvian, a few questions about using WooCommerce with Sensei:
How important is Sensei to your business model?
We’re still primarily an on-ground operation. The bulk of our revenue comes from students enrolled in classes in the studio, and we currently have just two online courses available. Those courses, however, have become centerpieces of our entire catalog.
Our Sensei courses extend the reach of our teaching, allowing us to help students from around the world who would otherwise not be able to learn with us. They also provide an attractive alternative even for our on-ground students who find the ability to pause and re-watch video lessons to be a helpful supplement to their work with us in the studio.
Lastly, the revenue these courses generate helps to “fill in the gaps” of the inevitable fluctuation of on-ground enrollment. Prior to using Sensei to offer online instruction, a significant drop in on-ground enrollment could pose something of a crisis. Selling courses online has helped insulate us from the unpredictable flux in revenue from on-ground students—and we expect this benefit to amplify as we add more online courses to our catalog.
What have you found most useful about Sensei?
I think the thing we’ve found most appealing about Sensei is its tight integration with WooCommerce. An online course is nothing more than a sequence of content, which could be easily presented in a series of blog posts. Controlling access to that content, and charging for it, makes things a little trickier. Since we were using WooCommerce already on our site, it was an easy decision to use Sensei for our courses.
Do you have any advice for other businesses that are considering using Sensei?
Sensei itself is so well thought out and easy to use that there’s no reason not to give it a try — especially if you’re already running a WordPress site with WooCommerce. But I do have two suggestions: First, take advantage of the extensions available for Sensei. My favorite is Sensei Modules, which allows courses to be organized into content blocks – or “modules” – each containing a number of lessons. It really enhances the presentation and navigability of longer courses.
And second, take content creation seriously. Sensei provides an elegant way to organize course content, but the content itself has to come from you. Learn about video production (shooting and editing), audio recording, and writing clear and instructive copy. Or, if you have the budget, hire professionals to do these things for you.
I found it particularly interesting that Vitruvian has been able to use Sensei to smooth their income from fluctuations in on-the-ground class participation.
Lamassu is the world’s most popular Bitcoin ATM. Customers wanting to operate a Bitcoin ATM out of a popular location — such as a cafe, co-working space, or mall — can purchase a Douru cash to bitcoin machine from Lamassu for $6,500.
Lamassu runs their website using WooCommerce and accepts payment in bitcoins using the free BitPay plugin for WooCommerce.
I asked Zach Harvey, the Co-Founder of Lamassu, some questions about using WooCommerce and BitPay.
What plugin or extension do you use to accept bitcoin payments in your business?
We use the BitPay plugin for our website. Payments processing is completely free, which is refreshing, having worked with credit card processing in the past.
Do you have any advice for another business that is considering accepting bitcoin?
I would advise any company to start accepting Bitcoin. It’s more secure, cheaper and there are no chargebacks. It’s also more convenient for customers who use Bitcoin. Like a website in the mid 90s, it’s better to get familiarized early on, than having to learn once your competitors already have a grasp on it.
You don’t have to be a cryptocurrency business to accept bitcoin (or other cryptocurrency payments) in your online store. As Zach pointed out, payment processing with cryptocurrencies can be free or cheaper than using credit card processing.
Yousli is a gourmet online muesli store based in Melbourne, Australia. They offer pre-mixed and mix-your-own mueslis in their online store. The breakfast cereals come in smiley-faced round tubes either via the Australian postal service, or sometimes via bicycle if you are lucky enough to live in the hipster capital of Australia.
I interviewed the founder Paul Findley previously for the Prospress blog, and here’s what he had to say about integrating WooCommerce Subscriptions into their business.
How has your experience been offering the subscriptions products?
Subscriptions has been great for us. We can offer an automated shop where somebody who enjoys their mixes can say: “Well I can have a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly drop of these mueslis,” and it’s great for us.
So you do a lot of your business through subscriptions?
Yeah we do. Customers can opt in and opt out whenever they want. It’s the flexibility.
Yousli is a great example of a consumable product that is a perfect fit for a subscription business model. Customers can get their regular fix of mueslis, when and how they like it. From Paul’s perspective, the recurring orders and billing is all automated.
Whether you are an existing business looking to spice things up, or an aspiring entrepreneur looking for an interesting business model, there’s bound to be a WooCommerce extension for you.
Check out the extensions marketplace, for 14 pages worth of inspiration.