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Welcome to Press This, the WordPress community podcast from WMR. Here host David Vogelpohl sits down with guests from around the community to talk about the biggest issues facing WordPress developers. The following is a transcription of the original recording.

David Vogelpohl: Hello everyone and welcome to Press This the WordPress community podcasts on WMR. This is your host, David Vogelpohl, I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine, and I love to bring the best of the community to you hear every week on press this as a reminder, you can find me on Twitter @wpdavidv, or you can subscribe to press this on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify, or download the latest episodes at wmr.fm. In this episode we’re going to be talking about why you should consider offloading WooCommerce checkout and joining us for that conversation from perfect checkout. I’d like to welcome James Rowley into the show James welcome.

James Rowland: Thanks for having me.

DV: Awesome. Now James. I didn’t like practice pronouncing your last name before we started here. Did I get it right? Is it rollin? Is that how you would pronounce it?

JR: It’s actually Roland but a mistake so no.

DV: There we go. That’s Bogle poles don’t know anything about people mispronouncing your last name. If it is listen listening, though, what James is going to talk to us about today is his thoughts on the value of offloading WooCommerce checkout in terms of speed, security and flexibility. And hopefully he’ll provide some insights if you’ve been considering the same for how you build your next WooCommerce store. James to kick us off, I’m going to ask you the same question I asked every guest briefly tell me a WordPress origin story. When was the first time you used WordPress?

JR: Oh, the first time we use WordPress probably right around when it was released. I got to say almost 10 years ago, or even longer. I’ve been an internet entrepreneur forever and use Joomla and other CMS is way way back in the day. And I think the first website ever made was for a architect client in San Francisco. They entire website with WordPress.

DV: Do you remember what year that was? Roughly?

JR: I don’t know, like I’m thinking 8/10 years ago.

DV: Okay, okay. Yeah, WordPress was released in 2003. So I didn’t know if that was all the way back then. But it sounded like you were already building client sites presumably using other CMS is and you did your first one in WordPress, I guess. Was that your origin story, if you will.

JR: That’s the first like client side. I did. Yeah.

DV: Cool. Cool. Well, that’s good to hear. Awesome. So you’re with a company called perfect checkout. Could you tell us a little bit about what perfect checkout does and what you do for perfect checkout?

JR: Absolutely, yes. So perfect checkout essentially is standardizing trust and convenience for shoppers and making it very easy for merchants to offer standardized trust and convenience to those shoppers. We do that mainly through the checkout experience by increasing security speed and essentially just helping merchants increased conversions drastically. Okay. Yeah. Compared to that when you get out of the box. WooCommerce.

DV: Sure, sure. And what do you do with perfect checkout? What’s your job?

JR: I’m the founder and CEO.

DV: All right, well, the buck stops with you then. Yep, all right. I like it. Okay, so for context. For those listening. Can you explain the difference in using Wu’s core checkout system versus an offloaded checkout system like those that like perfect checkout offers?

JR: Sure. So there’s a number of solutions out there. What you get out of a box of WooCommerce is pretty rudimentary. So there’s tons of plugins out there. And then there’s a small number of solutions that are hosted checkout solutions like ours. What those do are, essentially their headless checkout systems, that what you’re doing is you’re offloading the checkout to a third party service, so you don’t have to worry about uploading, like the the payment gateways or any checkout plugin itself. It’s basically all managed under one software service.

DV: Okay. And what is the primary drivers? Do you think people make the decision to not use the default UI versus say an offloaded solution?

JR: Almost from my experience, it came down to just wanting to increase conversions. And so you know, if you look at Shopify, or like really modern ecommerce sites like Nike, they have really clean checkout experiences with less fields and they just behave better on phones and all that so that’s not what you get out of the box. A lot of time with WooCommerce. So in my experience, I came up with the idea a couple years ago, one of my own businesses, and I tried all the other checkout plugins out there. And then I found a company called vault which offers a similar service and saw like, yeah, they had the modernized, more Shopify, like checkout. And all the features I was looking for only with them and other solutions, like there’s they’re really on the Enterprise tier. And they’re requiring that you do like more than $5 million a year just to even get a meeting with them. So I saw the need and for for myself, so initially built it for my needs and then solid demand lots of people looking for similar solution. But we built it

DV: interesting that you call that increase conversions. And earlier when I asked you about perfect checkout you described it is forgot was trust and something and checkout. And like I would, I would imagine that most people started looking at outsource checkout solutions. More for convenience or security or maybe even speed. You’re saying your first answer was really increased conversions, which is kind of surprising to me. Why do you think that is well cleaned out or?

JR: I’d say they basically all add, like the value add for merchants at the end of the day is you’re trying to increase sales. And you look at how you do that. Just look at Amazon, who has the highest conversion rate in the entire eCommerce industry beats out the industry average by like five times. They’re doing that by gaining trust with shoppers and there’s a number of things you need to do to gain a shoppers trust. So, we do the security aspect of our solution, the simplicity aspect, which is convenience, it all adds into increasing trust with a shopper, which in turn increases conversions.

DV: You also mentioned that when you started looking for solutions like this yourself that you were kind of drawn to features of these kinds of solutions and enhancing the experience. Now obviously with a WooCommerce build, you might accomplish this through extensions or plugins, in terms of adding you know, whatever payment features you were trying to do. What do you think the advantages are of exploring that and an offloaded approach versus say natively in WordPress and lluvia, extensions and plugins?

JR: Absolutely. Yes. So I’ll say that the customization aspect is definitely the biggest challenge for us because that is the great thing about WooCommerce. The fact that you can just endlessly customize so even just at the checkout, you have so many different options for like shipping and tax or adding custom fields. So someone who’s good at developing can add a lot of features and self use plugins, but someone like me who’s not, I don’t come from a developer background. So using so I’m the person that has to use all the plugins to do like whatever I want to do to the checkout experience. And that can just add up to a lot of plugin bloat.

DV: maintenance too for you as the site operator, right, like keeping up with all those updates, making sure they’re not breaking your checkout process stuff like that.

JR: Yeah, breaking the site or you know, getting checking your email and seeing like a month ago, there was like some huge vulnerability from like, one of your payment processors WooCommerce plugin, just being like, Oh, my site was just insecure for like, how long so yeah, it’s just a lot of extra headache.

DV: yeah, it makes sense. It’s kind of like I think this kind of like the Spider Man quote, right? Like with great power comes great responsibility. And so by leveraging kind of the open nature of Lou and WordPress, you have a great amount of power, but then you have to kind of maintain that, where if you offload key parts, like check out, it’ll kind of reduce some of your maintenance headaches. And that makes a lot of sense. And I certainly leverage offloading and my builds from time to time. I’m kind of curious though, want to get into the kind of some of the speed benefits. You also mentioned the word headless earlier, it is a very loaded term to that I want to kind of unpack a little bit of all from all that, but we’re going to take our first break and we’ll be right back. Time to plug into a commercial break. Stay tuned for more, press this in just a moment. Hello, everyone. Welcome back to Press This WordPress community podcast and WMR. We’re in the middle of our episode talking about offloading WooCommerce checkout with James Roland of perfect checkout James right before the break you were talking a little bit about kind of that trust element for offloading, also the kind of reduction in maintenance of offloading checkout and not having to maintain a bunch of extensions and plugins, and this certainly that rings true. You talked about the speed benefits of offloading checkout, at least prior to the episode with me. I’m just curious like how do you see what are the speed benefits and how are they delivered by offloading checkout?

JR: Absolutely. So speed comes in two forms, right? Yeah, the actual speed of the load time for a page and then the main way of describing speed is like how long it actually takes to fill out a checkout form. So to the ladder, it’s about 1/5 The speed it takes to fill out a typical checkout by being one step instead of typically five steps had in six fields instead of 15 fields. The address autofill feature everything is just ready to check out immediately. Essentially, when you arrive to the checkout page. You can just press one click into the first field and it just auto fills everything perfectly. In typically in a multi step checkout. Even if you’re using like chrome autofill, you’d have to autofill on each step. Or just click a button. It’s all there. You can check out as a guest or customer. It’s just all set up very conveniently. So it’s optimized for being able to complete the checkout as fast as humanly possible.

DV: Yeah, so that’s like the UX side, right. So if I was getting like WooCommerce out of the box, and I hadn’t optimized the checkout, basically, you’re saying you did all the kind of key optimizations for field reduction address autofill, things like that. And you inherit all that goodness, right out of the gate. Basically.

JR: It’s kind of a nerdy claim to fame, but I challenge anyone to try it out. I stand by it’s the fastest guest checkout experience that’s on the market, like WooCommerce or any solution to go to a Shopify site, any major e commerce site. Yeah, we really harped on that point. The UX side.

DV: What About the page load benefits like are their page load speed benefits without flooding?

JR: Yeah, so where that comes in? It’s a so our checkout. It’s a it’s a unique solution. Right? So what I mean by headless is, is API powered so it’s grabbing your cart, all the products in the cart, everything is coming in through an API, the actual experience is hosted by us. So for that you’ll need if you have good hosting, using VPS or dedicated hosting, you’ll definitely see a speed improvement. It’s not the best solution for shared hosting right now because API’s don’t respond as well on crowded shared hosting servers. But yeah, if you, you can click Checkout now or add to cart view the cart, and loads in about less than a second. So you have a benefit there. And then also, anyone building a headless website, like the entire they’re building a completely headless store. Those stores are the industry standard fastest you can possibly get. You’re getting sub second load times on any page, the product page, the shop pages, and the people building those stores. They’re in need of a solution like ours because there’s actually no real standardized solution that works with headless WooCommerce stores for the checkout. So people I’ve heard people on lots of podcasts recently, talk about how they’re handling that they’re kind of just going these roundabout ways to the checkout in a different way than the rest of the store is built. We have a solution that can just drop into any any headless store being built. So if you build your whole headless store, you can just use our solution and it handles the entire checkout part of that for you, which is very convenient.

DV: So from the high level, the pay the page load benefits are that you offer hosted checkout on your side, which you’ve optimized to be fast. Is that a Java? So when you say headless? Is that a JavaScript application that decoupled JavaScript build on the checkout? Or is it another type of build up?

JR: So our core solution is actually just a no code? Software as a Service so anyone can add it themselves. And then we also have a developer solution, which loads in a JavaScript wrapper so you can use it in your custom builds.

DV: Okay, and I liked your point on good hosting someone who works for WP Engine. I definitely appreciate that. Okay, so that makes sense. So maybe we can talk well, actually, let me ask you one more question on on speed benefits. So when I think of offloading jobs from a website, checkout being one of them. You know, what ultimately happens is that job is removed from the web server and moved to a different server. And so like it could be that offloading that service or thing, if you will, is faster than running it on your web server. It sounds like that may very well be the case with perfect checkout. But I’m just curious like one of the other benefits I see is because you knew that work off of the web server, all the other page loads got faster because that work was no longer being processed by the web server. Do your clients ever report those kind of benefits? Are they only looking at the checkout page load time when they think about speed?

JR: No, absolutely. I appreciate you bringing that up. Because yeah, do you think about it? Lots of little depending on the plugin developer. They can I just find it last time. Yeah, even a check out plugin is going to load that JavaScript and their files like across the whole site. If you’re trying if you’re trying to build all the features we had, with plugins and your own code, you’re going to be loading a lot of code on your website. So all of that is taken away and handled by us. So it’s a lot less plugins a lot less code bloat. So yeah, there’s a considerable less amount of load on the server.

DV: Awesome. What about security? Like you mentioned some security and trust benefits from offloading checkout? What do you think that? What are those key benefits?

JR: So the key benefit is that we’re handling that for you and we’re officially partnered with square PayPal and Stripe. So if you’re using any of those processors, anytime a vulnerability is found in one of their WooCommerce plugins, you know, that’s reported to them. Some people are better at getting on top of that and others, we are just handling it all for you. We also are PCI compliant out of the box. And yeah, it’s mainly it’s a guaranteed SSL connection. You don’t have to handle the SSL yourself. So all the important parts of the checkout integrity is handled by us. And that is just a load off the back of any store owner from Mercy.

DV: Yeah, so if I’ve got all this kind of patchwork of extensions and plugins, if I’m not keeping them up to date that introduces potential security vulnerabilities. And then just generally, folks that leverage offloaded checkout processes can inherit I guess that security where the company providing it that totally makes sense

JR: we don’t Bill ourselves yet as a like we’re not marketing the fraud side, but there definitely are anti fraud benefits. You probably it’s really common on WooCommerce where people are like testing out stolen credit cards. Or like if you don’t have CAPTCHA on the checkout page and things like that. You can have all sorts of security and fraud issues. So we haven’t had any of those problems with our merchants

DV: increase chargebacks can also affect your the rate you pay your credit card processors right now, so it’s not just security fraud actually can impact your bottom line, just the rates you pay.

JR: There’s all sorts of problems you can encounter as a merchant, that’s for sure.

DV: Okay, I got and so you’re trying to kind of further hone in your fraud prevention, but you have some of that layered and on perfect checkout today. Okay, that makes sense. Um, you know, yeah, I don’t know. No worries. Makes that makes total sense. So earlier, you were talking a little bit though about the customization trade offs with offloading, and, you know, makes total sense, but I want to maybe have you unpack that a little bit more. But we’re going to take our last break and we’ll be right back. Time to plug into a commercial break. Stay tuned for more press this in just a moment. Everyone welcome back to press this the WordPress community podcast on W EMR. We’re talking to James Rowland about offloading your WooCommerce checkout. James right before the break you were talking a little bit about the security benefits of offloading, but I wanted to kind of bridge now into the customization trade offs. You know, obviously with with blue and WordPress out of the box in the developer, you can kind of do anything you want with with perfect checkout, or I guess, maybe just with generally offloading checkout what are some of those customization trade offs you someone would would would have to go through with choosing offloaded checkout and with

JR: Yeah, so first of all, the real goal out the gate with the product was just to master the UI and UX component to essentially make it so you don’t have to customize as much when you get out of the box WooCommerce. We’ve a lot to customize with ours. Pretty much every single there’s actually over 200 specific UX and UI edits done to quote unquote perfect the experience. So that’s what you get out of the box with our solution. Obviously, you’ll want to add your own logo, you’ll have your own brand colors, so you can customize those things. Also, if you’re using other plugins, it works with the majority of any plugin that affects shipping, tax and coupons. So it actually works with all that out of the box. So you don’t have to, you’re using like advanced coupons, or custom fields, plugins. It’ll work with most of that. Sorry, not custom fields. Actually, we added our own custom fields functionality, but we’re using shipping plugins, tax plugins, coupon plugins. It works with most of those out of the box. And then for customization, you can do logo, brand colors, and custom fields. We’re going to be adding more to that so you can actually change fonts and we’re working on a dark mode as well.

DV: So the trade off it sounds is like I don’t have as much customization but again, perhaps the speed benefits, some of the security benefits, the inheriting the UX improvements to get checkout times reduced and things like that. But the trade off is that I don’t get to customize as much and so is the decision ultimately that people have to make as they think about things like offloading checkout, does that sound fair?

JR: It sounds fair. I’d also say the majority of people will not really need to customize anything or they might be hurting themselves trying to customize it further. That’s just from like us. Taking the stance like we’ve really studied UX. The entire product is built off of tons and tons of research in Art Institute does these sorry, they released these studies with like 1000s of responses of what leads people to drop off at the checkout page. And we’ve just built all around that to build the ultimate experience. So most of the the customization things that we want to cater to are just around like Randy with fields and a lot of the functionality. I’d say we have most of that wrapped up. We’re on a number of sites and have put in the features that most merchants are looking for.

DV: Nice. Um, I guess last question here around us out. What do you have cooking on your roadmap that you’re excited about?

JR: Yeah, so we are fundraising. I’m excited about that. We wanted to be doing that about a year ago. We’re about a year and a half old now. So we released the beta for this product last December and had like 1000 Beta signups. It’s just been a long year of catering to all the like I was saying earlier, building the features that people were looking for making it compatible with everything. So we’re at a point now where we’re ready to fully start marketing the product. on a large scale. And we also have a new product. I’ll just be honest, like one of the big challenges I had was, yeah, we thought it was amazing. All this feedback we got in the beginning but did not realize how much work was going to be to actually build out all these features. So because there’s so many stores with so many unique requirements. We started working on another product at the same time that we’re calling trust module. And what that does is it’s a way to help increase trust without having to fully replace your checkout experience. Like if you don’t want to use our checkout, or there’s just some feature, not there yet. This is a product that essentially any eCommerce store could add to increase trust on their site. What awesome, exciting stuff for sure.

DV: James, thanks so much for joining us today really found the conversation very interesting.

JR: Awesome. Thank you so much, David. Appreciate it.

DV: Of course if you’d like to learn more about what James is up to you can visit perfect checkout.com Thanks, everyone for listening to press this WordPress community podcast on W Mr. Again, this has been your host David Vogelpohl. I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine. And I love to bring the best of the community to you here every Press This.