Episode 11: How Shop Kit Provides the Foundation for WooCommerce Innovation

Kadence Shop Kit 2.0 is currently in beta, and it promises to change how WooCommerce sites engage with their audiences. With new methods of providing shoppers engaging experiences with products, we expect to see a new wave of innovation in the eCommerce space. In this episode, we talk about the benefits WooCommerce has over other cloud based commerce services and how Shop Kit aims to expand that. The team also goes deep on a shared passion: coffee.

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  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 1:17 Why WooCommerce over cloud eCommerce services
  • 6:07 Customizing WooCommerce
  • 9:00 Innovations that will come from those using Kadence Shop Kit
  • 10:41 Non-mainstream eCommerce site experiences
  • 13:40 This team loves coffee
  • 15:38 Product variations & immersive experience for shoppers
  • 17:50 Customer feedback on WooCommerce & Shop Kit
  • 18:31 WooCommerce Checkout experience
  • 19:23 Other recent product updates to Kadence Theme & Kadence Blocks

Transcript for Episode 11

Kathy: Hey everyone. Welcome to episode 11 of the Kadence Beat. This is the podcast where we talk about how to create effective websites with Kadence and WordPress. How are you guys doing on this fine June? We’re already into the middle of the year. The year’s almost half over. Can you believe it?

Hannah: Wow. That’s a sad thought. Doing good.

Ben: Yeah, it’s wild to think of it that way to me, because we’re in the Northwest, we’re just getting into summer. So it doesn’t feel like we’re halfway through the year. It feels like we’re only a quarter of the way through the year. Because summer, even though it’s only like three months, it’s like such a big part of your year.

You spent so much time outside and stuff.

Kathy: Yeah, it’s kind of crazy. Well, here we are. And we’re at episode 11 already. And Ben, you and the entire team have been so incredibly busy, just churning out updates. I wanted to talk about some of those updates, but I also wanted to focus on e-commerce, WooCommerce and all the cool things that Shop Kit is bringing to WooCommerce because it’s such a big part of helping people be successful with WordPress, giving them a way to create revenue streams using an open source platform like WooCommerce. WooCommerce was bought by Automattic some years ago. and has really grown to be a major player in the eCommerce space. And I think one of the only major players that is completely open source. There are a lot of cloud based solutions like Shopify and others.

But WooCommerce really does have a lot of benefits for someone who’s trying to start a storefront. I see a lot of financial reasons to go with WooCommerce also. I live in opensource. I want to own my website. I want to own my platform. I don’t want anybody else dictating to me how a customer is going to check out, but I also want more freedom and flexibility, which is why I’m so excited about Shop Kit. Ben, you were talking recently about someone that you had talked to who was looking to move their business out of one of those cloud solutions and to WooCommerce. What was their pain point?

Ben: Yeah, I think their pain point is one of the big selling points for WooCommerce. And that is that they were paying a lot of money, a lot more than what they could afford given their current amount of sales and things like that. And I think even if you were having a lot of sales, it’s a big cut.

I mean, they were using square and their monthly price was $80. Plus they’re were paying a 6% fee on every transaction, which is huge. And then a $350 yearly fee for the website. Square is a little bit different than WooCommerce in that it’s got a built in point of sale system, so it’s not comparing apples to apples and I get that, but, the price is steep it’s a lot of money for someone who’s trying to make it on a very small budget with a very small, online, capacity.

Kathy: Yeah, well, obviously, WooCommerce. No charge for getting started, but there’s a lot of plugins and ways to extend WooCommerce that require some what of an investment, but you can really get, started bootstrap your eCommerce by not really spending much money at all.

Ben: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you can definitely spend a lot more money on a WooCommerce site than you could on Square because if you’re going to run thousands of transactions a day and things like that, you need to have enterprise level hosting, just had a much more robust system, but that’s nice that you can grow into that and you’re in control and you can downsize when you need to downsize and go up when you need to go up. With some of the cloud-based solutions, you’re stuck with whatever price hike they give you. You’re stuck with whatever. And I think for the majority of people, where they’re doing it themselves, if you’re largely doing that, because you’re not a big company that can afford to have someone build it for you and pay a higher fee. So you need to get into it as cheap as possible. And that’s where WooCommerce can be really low budget., hosting is all over the place, but it’s highly competitive.

You generally don’t have to worry too much about your host, increasing your fees because it’s pretty easy to move and it’s extremely competitive market. if you’re in Shopify, you’re in Shopify and it’s not easy to move and it’s not, if they change their price, it’s a big, it’s a big deal because you’re very locked in.

So, there’s some big differences there. I get it. A lot of people are like, well, you ended up paying for just much just in different ways. And I just think you have, you have options along the way and you can definitely do it for a lot less.

Kathy: . And when you’re building a storefront in Shopify, It’s akin to building your house in a state. You don’t necessarily have any control over, like they changed the laws. They changed the zoning, they, annex your store to a new city. That type of thing. Your storefront is governed by those rules. I remember a few years ago, maybe 2018, there was some issues with MailChimp and their connections to Shopify. One of them decided that they weren’t going to integrate anymore. And obviously this is a big deal because there were so many people using MailChimp. So many people using Shopify and to basically have to migrate to a different mailing provider, all of the integrations, all of your email workflows. Gone, just because one of those two companies decided that they weren’t going to play nicely with the other, that has a trickle-down effect. And so obviously working with, WooCommerce, if that kind of thing happens, worst case scenario, You can hire a developer to code your own custom integration to whatever system use, Zapier to connect things.

So there’s so many different ways that you have the flexibility to find a solution, to find a work around, to get your business back functional. Um, so WooCommerce does have a ton of benefits, but there’s also some limitations with WooCommerce. Ben I know with Pinnacle Foods, you are working with WooCommerce fairly often.

What are some of the limitations that you found where you have to create solutions that are beyond the box? What comes out of the box with WooCommerce?

Ben: Yeah, I haven’t had to do it as much with Pinnacle although more is coming for sure down the road as we do more with Pinnacle. But I think WooCommerce is, is kind of set up to be pretty unopinionated and more just a traditional, like here’s a grid of products and here’s a standard product page with tabs.

And that’s like, that’s fine. And it will sell products. And it’s works. It’s just not very creative or engaging. So like, a website I did a number of years ago is called Black Coffee Roasting Co. one of the things with their site is just being able to create a custom shop page where instead of landing on a grid of products, we wanted to make sure the customer’s landed where their choices were categorized on that shop page.

And that’s just like a simple example of like needing to override what WooCommerce does by default, which is just kicks all your products into your shop page and actually create a page that says you know, lighter roasts, medium roast, dark roast, merchandise. Like you could go through categories and see the top products in those categories.

And then a few more, that was like a really simple implementation of like this isn’t standard WooCommerce. You’re going to need a tool that allows you to build this custom, but the results are just a whole lot more engaging for the user. They’re not having to go through and be like, well, here’s a grid of products and no quick way for them to just see, like, I want to get to my section.

I know I love dark roast, or I know I love light roasts, and then dive into that. And there’s a lot of ways to do things in WooCommerce. That’s just an example of overriding a template and being able to control that design within the block editor. And I think that goes along with the product page, too.

I was looking around at websites for a talk and one of the things I kept noticing over and over and over again is that almost the majority of these online stores are not using tabs anymore. People are really getting away from tabs as a design thing. And so something simple like that, where you’re just being a little bit more engaging with your content.

You’re getting away from the standard look. And that’s something that you can do now in shop kit is just the ability to override templates and create custom designs.

Kathy: Well, that’s really cool. Not every customer that hits a WooCommerce page is going to be shopping from the niche…. I mean, not all niches are the same, not all customers are the same. So being able to template things in a way that meets your audience, where they’re at your customers and prospects, where they’re at opens up better avenues for connection.

Ben: Yeah.

Kathy: So I’m curious because Shop Kit, the beta has been out for a while. And so we’ve got a number of people playing with it when I hit a WooCommerce shop, like if I’m shopping for something, and I want to buy directly from the merchant, I can tell almost immediately, I don’t even have to view source.

I know it’s WooCommerce. Is shop going to change that isn’t going to be. We’re going to see much more dynamic designs from shop users that are using Shop Kit?

Ben: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You’re going to be, if you think it’s WooCommerce, you’re going to be like, I don’t know how they did this. They must have had a custom developer or something. Cause it’s just going to be that different in terms of like, you can create really unique, much more specific to you and your brand and what you’re, what it is.

You’re selling, product pages. So, yeah, even as I’m building out the examples, I’m like these are gonna, create a very different feel for people’s websites. in general, you don’t want to stray so far away on your product pages or anything that people are like, I don’t know what to do or where to look. But there’s some really good ways to make a much more engaging product page where you just display content that people need without having it to be hidden in a tab or just in very basic text format.

Kathy: Neat. I’m excited for that because obviously giving more tools and more creativity to developers and shop owners is going to create innovation and it will kind of create a feedback loop. As you start seeing people who are doing more innovative things with layouts that are actually converting, it’s going to be discovered and it’s going to be known and it’s going to actually elevate all e-commerce and all WooCommerce users who are using shop kit into a new way of developing and connecting with customers and converting prospects into customers that we haven’t seen before. So this is really groundbreaking and innovative. so I’m excited.

I have a question for you guys. So since, we all shop online. And I want, your thoughts, Hannah, because you just really dive into sort of this awareness of a website and how you connect with it that I find fascinating, a storefront and bonus points. If you could tell it was WooCommerce, that wasn’t a mainstream site that you recently purchased something from. And how was that shopping experience for you?

Hannah: Hm. I think one I was at recently and I do actually think it was WooCommerce, it was like a skincare line that someone had told me about this like natural, organic skin product. And, I’m super hesitant when it comes to all that stuff, because I have tried everything out there. Anyway, this place, I think what got me was their design was engaging and you could tell it was well done.

It was quality and they had great reviews and they weren’t your like fake reviews that were like “great product. I loved it.” It was like, you could tell it was real people. and, the reviews were like posted in a place that were very easy to find. And, Yeah, those are the kinds of things that make me feel like, okay, I think I can trust this.

Like this is a well-done site. Either shop is set up well, like I’m not sketched out by any of the questions they’re asking or the placements of any buttons or anything like that. And then they have real life people telling me that this is a legit product as well. So.

Kathy: cool. What about you, Ben? Have you purchased something recently? Bonus points. If it was WooCommerce and you could tell, I have to ask you, do you view source when you’re shopping at a site to figure out what kind of systems they’re using?

Ben: Yeah, I’ve view source on just about every site I go to, because I’m curious, if I go to a site and they’re doing anything interesting at all, I’ve view source to see, like what, how was this created? , generally a it’s agency stuff like if it’s WordPress, it’s very agency or whatever, but I’m always like, oh, what’s this, who, who did this?

So I think, , the last non-mainstream was probably jot coffee. It’s been a while. They’re definitely, not WooCommerce. I think they’re using, I think they’re using Shopify. I don’t remember if I saw the shop pay or not, but, it is a slick system because it’s subscription-based, coffee that is concentrated.

So you put like one tablespoon of coffee. Into water to make a cup of coffee. It makes great ice coffee. so there’s a plug, and yeah, it was one of those things I got suckered into on an Instagram ad and was like, I love coffee and iced coffee, and I want to try this. And so I’m now a subscriber, although I just did delay my last order.

They have a pretty slick way of increasing or delaying when your order comes.

Kathy: Cool. I don’t know which one to go with. I guess I’m going to go with my coffee company. So when I lived in Mount Shasta, which is kind of on the border of Oregon, so lots of coffee roasters around, Good Bean in Southern Oregon, they have a roast called Dark Mountain that is my favorite, like heavy, dark roast.

And so, uh, I’ve been buying from them and it’s a WooCommerce storefront. I always buy from them and I’ll just buy like 12 bags, lasts me for a few months. I must drink a lot of coffee thinking about it, as I’m telling you guys this, like, Wow. That’s like just a few months, 12 bags. Just me. I mean, yeah. Okay. I’m drinking a lot of coffee.

Hannah: I’m with you. I’m totally with you. I don’t even want to know how much coffee I buy. Like, hi, I’m out already.

It’s great joy in life.

Kathy: It is. Yeah. And I got, when life was kind of crazy, someone for Christmas gave me a Keurig, cause that was like, I don’t even have time to make coffee. And they’re like, here, this will solve your problems. But…

Hannah: It’s not the same.

Kathy: It’s not the same. I will use it like when it’s crazy and have to run and do something, but it is not an enjoyable cup of coffee to me.

I like grind my own. I have to go on the garage and grind it. So I don’t wake anybody up.

Hannah: I do the same thing. That’s awesome.

Ben: yeah. Total side note, Nespresso makes a pretty good instant. If you need something quick, I grind every day and I brew coffee, but when I need a quick cup, we have an Nespresso, And also pro tip. They have decaf shots and so vanilla ice cream with a shot of decaf at night is like my kryptonite.

Kathy: Oh man. Well, now we know your secret. So where you could just going to have to do like coffee. E-commerce a whole episode about.

Hannah: We really do, it’s so relatable to all the people who are going to be listening.

Kathy: And I think we could do it. Okay. Well, let’s get back to WooCommerce. So it’s very exciting to hear all of the cool things that Shop Kit is doing. What other cool things are we bringing in? Other innovations that are really going to change the face of e-commerce for WooCommerce users?

Ben: So when you think about ordering especially products that are variable products. So like, I can choose a color or I can choose a size or, or whatever. I’m definitely spending a lot of time working with how you’ll be able to template and design the swatches more.

So you can create more engaging swatches using shop kit, but then the integration between that and your product images is huge. And so with Shop Kit and you can have a totally different gallery of images. So not just your featured image, but like all of the thumbnails can switch when you change the variations.

And I think that’s just a much more compelling experience to be like, okay, this is what the orange looks like. And that’s what it looks like in all these different, views and things like that. so I think that’s like, that’s a key part. I think just being able to put the right content in the right place is key.

When you need to give the information for size charts, for things like that, it’s the, it’s those little things that just really like prevent the customer from being like, this is too hard. And I’m going to go somewhere else when it’s like right there. And it’s like, here’s your size chart?

Here’s the information you need to know here’s how shipping is going to work. Here’s our reviews from real customers. Then it’s just all those roadblocks go away and people are much more willing to be like, okay, let’s purchase. When you make it custom, you can just give that like sense of real people behind this.

This isn’t a cookie cutter template. This isn’t a, could be anybody pretending to be anything. This is real people we live here. This is, you know, like that kind of feel. And I think that’s a really engaging thing. And if you can get that throughout your website, because you’re doing things a little bit custom, a little bit different, you’re putting in the right touches.

Then you’re not only going to get customers to buy from you, you’re going to get customers to come back because it’s like, I want to be associated with that company, I want to support that company. That’s the kind of company that I want to shop from. I think we’re definitely coming into especially in the U S where it’s like so many more people are like just more conscious of what they’re buying and where they’re buying from and things like that. And I think when you can present yourself in a way that’s, this is who we are, small business. I think people are just much more likely to get on board.

Hannah: Totally.

I can say that from a support perspective that I’m super excited, because I feel like Shop Kit it answers questions that people have been asking for years that there just hasn’t been a solution for. And now it’s like, well, they’re actually the solution for that. You know, so many questions from customizing product pages to archive pages, all of it that. Shop Kit brings so many solutions. So I’m stoked to be able to have, a one-click answer for people instead of being like, well, you need to hire a developer. So I’m stoked.

Kathy: Very exciting. Are there going to be changes any kind of templating or customization that people can do to check out pages or any other pages or is it really just focused on product?

Ben: Right now. We still have the checkout editor, so you can add fields to your checkout. With woo commerce doing a big project to basically create a block for the checkout. I’ve been delaying creating a template because it wouldn’t really work with their block. We’re kind of in this limbo right now as to whether or not that block will be extendable, or if down the road, we need to create our own block, or create our own checkout system. Until WooCommerce kind of gets that block really ready, really tested. I think we’re gonna wait and see how that lands and how extendable that is. And then what are people wanting outside of what core is offering. WooCommerce core is never going to give you all of the options. And part of what we’re trying to do is create those options. So we’ll see kind of how that lands.

Kathy: Gotcha. Okay, great. There have been a lot of other changes, a lot of releases, some bug fixes, some minor, but also some cool stuff that you’ve released with Kadence Blocks, Kadence Blocks Pro and the theme, every time I look up, There’s a new release. What are you up to, Ben?

Ben: Yeah, up to a lot, I think with the theme we’re doing a lot of tweaking. And preparation for stability long-term and then the essential connection with full site editing when we’re ready or really when WordPress is ready for that. I think right now the main thing with theme is like, I would ignore full site editing.

it’s just, it’s not there and it’s not going to help you. You’re welcome to try it out. I just don’t think that anyone should be diving into it at this stage. and so that’s why we haven’t released anything for it is because I don’t want to release stuff that I’m pigeonholed into supporting down the road.

But in general, the theme we’re looking at, how do we optimize? How do we make it more performant? And how do we make things work better? So there’s been little tweaks and stuff in the theme. In blocks we have a new ability to like make sections sticky, which is, fun.

There’s some like creative ways that you can make something sticky as you scroll. With sticky options, you can create some cool layouts where things stick as long as they are a part of that, like outer container.

So with blocks, a lot of stuff is, is happening right now to prep for 2.5, which is supposed to come out in the near future. And that’s where we’ll have a completely new, essentially backend for all of the blocks. All the blocks are going to have different settings. That’s going to change to a tab system where you’re going to have like general and advanced settings.

So we’re going to try to make that a little bit more streamlined. We’re going to streamline some of the components in it. Like the topography component is going to be a little bit more streamlined. And then some of the ways that you use blocks, especially the Row Layout block is all going to change. Still backward compatible, but giving you a lot more options for control and just easier control.

We’re really excited about getting this next, huge Kadence Blocks update out because it’s just like a whole lot of things that we’ve been wanting to do. We’re getting it all into this one release.

Kathy: Nice. And I noticed that you made some changes with the theme on the customizer bringing out colors and fonts so they’re very easy to find for users. I can’t tell you how many hours have spent over the past few years just the customizer. I get lost. I’m looking for something. And is it here? Is it there? And so I really liked that because that’s typically what people are doing when they’re getting into the customizer is looking at fonts or looking at colors and wanting to change something globally there. So that was a neat, uh decision.

Ben: Yeah, that we just got some feedback and was like, yeah, that’s definitely something that would be easy to implement. and easy to add. So now it’s a little bit easier to find things in the customizer and a little bit more organized.

Kathy: Excellent. Cool. All right. Well, good discussion. And, now I know that I should buy you coffee related things for Christmas. Good to know. Duly noted.

Hannah: Just all buy each other coffee related things and we’ll all be so happy.

Kathy: The Kadence coffee club. Hey there, we could do something there.

Hannah: I love that.

Kathy: Right. Well, Thanks for joining today. It was good to talk to you guys about some cool stuff with WooCommerce and I am so. excited about Shop Kit. If you have not looked at Shop Kit, the beta is available. If you are a Kadence Full Bundle user, or if you’ve bought Shop Kit independently, it is available for you.

Go ahead and give it a twirl. Thanks for listening to the Kadence Beat and we will talk to you next time.

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