Today the folks at Woo Themes announced the release of the first major update to their widely popular WordPress eCommerce plug-in, WooCommerce. According to the post on their site, for WooCommerce 2.0 they’ve re-written much of the WooCommerce code and made many updates that will benefit customers, shop owners, developers and just about every level of WooCommerce user. So the big question of the day is should you rush to upgrade or not? Cheers or Fears?

Here are some of the changes I’m particularly excited about:wc2.0

  • The update to product data panel. When training clients the current layout seems to be confusing, I hope the new layout makes it more intuitive.
  •  Multiple download support. This is perfect for the digital online shop with the boom in sales of e-books, music, audio etc. Improving the download functionality which previously seemed like an after though was a critical change.
  • Session Handling. This is a BIG deal for users, issues with losing cart orders and other problems caused by hosting settings. Especially those hosting on sites like Go Daddy that do not enable read/write access to their PHP files.
  • Capability Manager. They have made changes to the granularity of the capabilities you can assign to users, so now using plug-in like User Roles or Advanced Capabilities Manager you can create a user roles with permissions for exactly what you want your staff to do. For example if a site owner wants someone to only add products, but not see orders; or only  give managers the access to create coupon codes.

There are a number of other changes that I think will make every user of WooCommerce will give a hardy WOO HOO! , when you look at the list of the enhancements. Unfortunately, although the upgrade sounds amazing, and may be just what you’ve been waiting for I wouldn’t recommend everyone rushing to upgrade.  Take a look at my recommendations below

If you’re using WooCommerce today

If you read their post about the release (which you absolutely should) , after Woo gets you all excited about the latest offerings of WooCommerce 2.0 they then start with the ominous upgrade warnings. I know every theme and plug-in warns you to back-up before upgrading; but this time I believe them. The major change in product information, code, CCS settings, hooks, and API make it impossible to roll back the changes if something goes wrong and Woo suggest that many things can go wrong. In addition, to stressing the importance of back-ups, Woo also recommends testing on a test site before upgrading your production site; and again I believe them and would take this step very seriously. My other concerns with this update are how they will be handled by your themes and plug-ins, many of us use specialized eCommerce themes that have been optimized for the existing Woo Commerce. These themes use the current Woo hooks and CSS which are dramatically changing; so with that in mind I wouldn’t dream of up grading without checking with my theme developer first .

Before upgrading ask these questions:

  • Has your theme developer released an update for theme (or do they plan to)?
  • Are other theme users experiencing issues? (Check the forums or the comments on the sales page)
  • Has all of your plug-ins been tested with WooCommerce?
  • Do you really need the new features? This is the one time I recommend that if you don’t need the new features wait for 2.0.1

Although this is a great update, if you’re running an existing site with no issue I think the risk is too great to make the leap right now. Soon we can all make the move to this new great WooCommerce but right now I would give it a little time.

If you’re just getting started with your Online store

If you are just getting started or planning your new eCommerce sites now is a great time to jump right in feet first. Woo is making a clear move away from their forked Jigoshop beginnings, and making huge changes and improvements of their own. Their goal is to improve every user’s experience.  They have listened to user and developer feedback and have made a real effort to build a better product. These are the good signs you want to see when adopting a system that will host your entire business for hopefully the long term.

Even with the warning I’m really excited to try out the new WooCommerce 2.0, I’ll be testing it out the coming weeks and of course reporting back what I find. So let us know your thoughts about the new update if you’ve installed, planning to install, or even if it broke your site. Share in the comment below your WooCommerce 2.0 cheers and fears.

[eventbox] Do you need help getting started with your eCommerce site?  Join our upcoming webinar we’ll discuss step by step install, set-up, and day to day usage of WooCommerce 2.0

“Build an eCommerce site on WordPress” April 17th 2013 7pm-9pm EST

Eventbrite - Building an eCommerce Website on WordPress (Webinar)