WooCommerce 2.1 was released this Monday! While we already wrote a preview of WooCommerce 2.1, we’re following up with a WooCommerce 2.1 Review now that the updates have been officially released. We’ve aimed to cover features and changes that we omitted in our preview as well as changes to the development plan since the preview was released.
For a full review of the plugin and all of it’s capabilities, you should also check out our detailed WooCommerce Plugin Review.
As always, you should be cautious while updating your site between versions. However, this is especially important with this release, as several changes have been made and WordPress 3.8 is now required. Deploy all changes in a staging environment first, then take your site for a test drive before copying changes over to the live site. Don’t forget to back up first!
If you encounter issues while upgrading, you can check out this upgrade guide from SkyVerge, guide to common upgrade issues or some help with updating templates. We know you’ll be excited after reading this, so we want to make sure everyone is practicing safe upgrades 🙂 .
There are some massive changes to the core plugin in version 2.1, including new additions and removal of some core integrations. One of the most exciting new features is the REST API from one of our authors and founders – Max Rice. What does this mean? At the user level, admittedly not too much. However, it opens up a lot of possibilities for developers and has allowed the development of the official WooCommerce iPhone app, which is slated for release in late March. This also opens the door for other integrations without the use of plugins.
The inclusion of the API has also reduced the number of pages installed by default. Previously, eleven pages were installed with WooCommerce, but in version 2.1, the only pages installed are the ‘Shop’, ‘My Account’, ‘Checkout’, and ‘Cart’ pages. Sub-pages (like Checkout > Order Received) are now API endpoints, which makes them more reliable and prevents them from being deleted. For example, the Order Received page will now always be located at
www.yourstore.com/checkout/order-received/. As a result, shortcodes for these pages will no longer work, which is another reason to test in a staging site before upgrading.
Reporting has undergone some changes in WooCommerce 2.1, but some new features were also added. First, taxes are now included in reporting, and can be viewed by code and by date. Taxes are also broken down by item and shipping tax amounts. Reports include a new CSV export capability for reporting as well.
Customers can now edit account information. First, customers can add new saved payment methods – credit cards or bank accounts – directly from the “My Account” page without needing to go through the checkout process (with gateways that support tokenization). In addition, customers could previously change addresses and reset passwords. Now names and email addresses used to identify an account can be changed by customers from the “My Accounts” page as well.
Account creation has also been simplified, as the need to create a password can be removed from the registration process. Customers can be sent a temporary password to facilitate account creation during checkout so that barriers are eliminated. Customers get easier account creation, and you get increased conversions by limiting the amount of decisions customers have to make at checkout.
Product reviews have also been tweaked, and can now optionally be limited to “verified owners”, which are customers that have purchased the product from your store as a customer (similar to Amazon’s verified purchase reviews).
When you set up your WooCommerce shop (or edit the setup while upgrading), you’ll notice that the settings page has been simplified, and settings have been grouped more appropriately. For example, anything related to products, including inventory, is now under the “Products” tab.
One of the biggest improvements has been the built-in reporting. WooCommerce has always had great reporting capabilities, but they’ve been completely redone in 2.1 and have a brand new look and simpler interface.
You can also view far more detailed customer reports in the newest version of the plugin. Not only can you view a customer list, but you can also view signups for custom date ranges and compare the number of customer versus guest purchases for that period.
Order administration has also been improved and redesigned. Marking orders as “on-hold” is now an option for bulk editing orders from the “Orders” page. The Orders page has been simplified, and icons have been redesigned to be consistent with the WordPress 3.8 design.
Orders can also be added to customer profiles based on the email used if they were placed before the customer registered so you have an accurate record of customer purchases and lifetime value.
Coupon creation and editing has been improved. Usage limits can now also be assigned based on user ID or email to prevent users from applying the same coupon a number of times.
The three WooCommerce dashboard widgets (Right Now, Monthly Sales, and Recent Orders) have been axed in favor of one “WooCommerce Status” dashboard widget whose design is consistent with the upcoming iPhone App. All icons also link to the relevant pages so that you now have one command center that provides a store overview.
The changes in WooCommerce 2.1 aim to make the core plugin as lean as possible and to shorten development cycles. As a result, several of the core integrations have been removed and are now separate plugins. This means that they can be developed faster while independent of the core plugin and that the core plugin gains stability and security by removing pieces that aren’t used by the majority of shops. Here are the links to the free integration plugins for everything that’s been removed from core:
- WooCommerce ShareThis Integration
- WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration
- WooCommerce ShareDaddy Integration
- WooCommerce Piwik Integration
- AddShoppers (formerly ShareYourCart)
In summary, though the development cycle for WooCommerce 2.1 was pretty long, I’m excited about the changes that the development team has made. Many times, it seems that plugins continue to expand and constantly add settings, which can lead to bloat over time. Rather than simply add the features that users have requested, WooCommerce 2.1 also slices away some settings and features that aren’t needed by most users, which keeps the core plugin lean and stable and improves the user experience.
Some users have been confused by the addition of endpoints rather than using shortcodes to generate pages, which is understandable given the lack of a detailed upgrade guide. However, I think these endpoints and structural changes provide some exciting possibilities for future WooCommerce integrations and improvements for existing shop owners. With the release of version 2.1, WooCommerce has taken further steps towards becoming a comprehensive eCommerce business management system.