I had a great time at WordCamp Grand Rapids last weekend. In addition to meeting awesome people I think that my presentation went really well and I had some awesome questions at the end. One of the questions I was asked during my presentation at WordCamp Grand Rapids last weekend was whether or not WordPress is even the right choice for an e-commerce solution and can it scale to handle high amounts of traffic? The answer is YES!
Can WordPress Scale?
But before I dig into the specifics of an e-commerce platform I want to point out that WordPress itself can scale very well. Perhaps you've heard of WordPress.com – did you know that the entire WordPress.com website is run off of one WordPress multisite install? At the time of this writing thats 9,668,475 websites.
Over 354 million people view more than 11.3 billion pages each month.
Users produce about 47.2 million new posts and 68.7 million new comments each month.
If small blogs on WordPress.com isn't enough to convince you, did you know that TechCrunch, TED, CNN, TIME, and the National Football League all host on WordPress.com also?
So yeah – WordPress can scale.
Can WordPress E-Commerce Solutions Scale?
Let me give you a little background information to help you think about this yourself before I give you my opinion. Do you know how products are stored in the database? Do you know how orders are stored in the database? Well, all of the modern WordPress e-commerce solutions like WooCommerce & Easy Digital Downloads use WordPress' built in custom post types. This means that interacting with the database with an e-commerce solution is just like interacting with a regular WordPress site.
WooThemes.com itself is run on WooCommerce and that wouldn't happen unless it was solid. WooThemes has 458 products, 100,000+ paying customers, tens of thousands of visitors every day, and hundreds of orders each day. I've also stumbled upon Soul Brother which has ~20,000 products and also happens to use the Canvas theme by WooThemes and WooCommerce scales just fine for them.
Update 2013-11-09 – I just discovered http://www.kinder-book.de/ which has ~60,000 products!
Update 2014-07-17 – I just discovered ALEF Bookstore. There is a case study on WooThemes.com.
How Do I Scale My Website?
So WordPress e-commerce solutions can definitely scale to handle a high volume of traffic. So the next question is, “how do I scale it”? We'll that's honestly a complex topic that deserve's it's own blog post. My top tip would be to have stellar hosting. I know both WooThemes.com as well as my personal site use WPEngine. I highly recommend that you find a host like WPEngine so they can handle the hard server side stuff and you can spend the time working on your business.
Photo Credit: Bob Vonderau