WordPress Can Handle High Traffic E-Commerce Demands!

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.

Also, check out a talk by Ryan Allen the system engineer for the massive Envato network (Have you heard of ThemeForest or CodeCanyon??). They run a very large WordPress multisite.

Photo Credit: Bob Vonderau

10 thoughts on “WordPress Can Handle High Traffic E-Commerce Demands!

  1. Good post. I too have used WordPress to scale clients’ sites and have had success. For us, the most important aspect of this scalability is also getting the sites to perform in the search engines. WordPress sites are great for that too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience!

  2. Thanks! Great article! Still read a lot of people saying that WordPress with ecommerce plugins are only meant for small websites with a few products, not those with a few thousands. And they tend to point people to Magento, a beast in itself, being hard to upgrade plus a resource hog 🙁

    What do you think?

    Still Builtwith and Google Trends have pointed out the trends of WooCommerce being the fastest growing ecommerce platform/plugin worldwide. It has superseded Shopify on GT and will do the same with Magento within the next 1-2 years.

    • IMO as solutions like WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads continue to evolve WordPress e-commerce solutions will become more and more popular. Builtwith has pointed out huge growth with WooCommerce and I think it will continue to grow. As soon as there are a few good case studies out there I think that will remove people’s fear.

      • That’s true. Saying that, as the state of SEO and google continues, it seems like the future trend isn’t just CMS + storefront, but a CMS storefront as the way forward, which makes things like EDD and Woocommerce relevant. iThemes’ Exchange seems to be growing well too, in terms of capabilities and extensions. Perhaps they too would be the next ecommerce plugin for wordpress to lookout for.

        After all in terms of SEO, gone were the days we could just slap on keywords and dominate SERP. Even more so, so many merchants are just uploading exact copies of the description of products as their competitors.

        I’ve read many Magento vs WooCommerce reviews and articles, but most looks spun or copied off the same article from somewhere in 2012, more likely from someone looking for traffic, rather than someone who really knows both systems.

        We would stick to WordPress because of the following
        1) Ease of upgrade – read the horror stories of those upgrading Magento/Prestashop and worse still, try upgrading and having it break before your eyes. Interestingly enough, no one mentions this, until we experience it ourselves! 🙁

        2) Ease of Addons –
        Gravity Forms is one of the best in the market. Not just for WordPress. Try getting the same for Prestashop/Magento, and you’ll have to custom build. Not good.

        If one of these add on developers decides to stop, there is always an alternative. Unfortunately, there is none for Prestashop/Magento

        Yoast WordPress SEO remains the best there is in the market. I’ve looked at solutions on Shopify/BigCommerce/Magento/Prestashop and none came as good as Yoast’s SEO plugin for WordPress.

        Add on Yoast’s WooCommerce plugin and we’re good to go! (It still have a bug, and Yoast hasn’t responded…but I’m sure he will)

        3) Ease of Backup
        Only WordPress users have Vaultpress, which keeps thousands of images of our website, no matter how big it is. And keeps it secure. If we want the same thing on Magento/Prestashop, we’ll have to pay something to the tune of hundreds to thousands monthly!

        4) Ease of Hosting
        We get to choose between Websynthesis, WP Engine and others. Even DreamHost launched DreamPress! We can’t get the same on Magento/Prestashop.

        And with WP Engine, we’ve things like Sucuri scanning, Malware removal and awesome support. Something we can’t find out of the WordPress ecosystem. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that WordPress has matured and it’s so good and easy to have a site on WordPress now.

        • I’m right there with you. I use WordPress because it has the best tools (GF, WC, WPEngine, Jetpack, WordPress SEO, Ninja Forms, etc) that I use to speed up my web development time. No other CMS, e-commerce or not, has resources like that. I also love being able to easily modify something with a simple filter. Any novice developer can modify something in a WordPress plugin.

          If you do make the switch to WooCommerce you should write up your own blog post so that people know it’s a) possible b) a good decision. 🙂

  3. True. There’s many ways different ways to look at scale. Thanks for pointing other high traffic stores in your post. Would love to have a defacto standard for scalable WooCommerce sites including traffic, inventory, and more.

  4. This is an excellent post. Now I can tell my bosses whenever they argue about WordPress capability.

  5. Being I’m not a techie I get programmers telling me to build a contest site from scratch that will ultimately have large traffic spikes and heavy image storage, being CMS’s are not the way to go.
    Then I get website designers telling me to just do it the CMS route. Can anyone give me any examples of sites that have already scaled that handles those two issues?

  6. Hi Patrick,

    Yes we will be ideally running a pretty massive site that artists from all around the globe will be submitting images to be judged. I understand it’s the cart before the horse scenario, we just want to have a smooth transition.

    Of course we would like to have the eyeballs and users like Fbook. Hah! Ha!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.