Why would I export from WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a powerful system that can gather large amounts of data relating to your store, products and customers. There are various reasons why you might want to export data from your WooCommerce store.
Analysing data elsewhere
If you export data you can analyse in various pieces of software. For example exported data can be analysed using charts, pivot tables and formulae in a spreadsheet.
Moving to another store
You can export data so that it saves you time when moving to another store. You could share the sales data or products you have with your Amazon, eBay or other online store. Another example is if you are moving to a new WooCommerce store and want to carry over some historic data. Exporting your current data allows you to take it anywhere.
Use with 3rd party tools
Some 3rd party tools benefit and even need data from your existing store. Google Shopping is an example where you need a list of your products to add to the tool before using it. Exporting the data from your WooCommerce store will allow you to share that data without any manual data entry.
You may want to export your data from WooCommerce so that you can keep your own backup elsewhere. Your online store is such an integral part of your business. It would be a disaster to lose all the data you have accumulated over time.
Types of export
WooCommerce data is stored inside separate tables in your WordPress database. You could export this directly if you knew how to but it is not recommended to access your site database this way. There are various tools available to format and export data for use elsewhere. We will explain those later but first, here are some examples of export formats:
A simple spreadsheet that can be opened in software such as Microsoft Excel or google Sheets
This is a text file in a specific format. The name stands for Comma Separated Value and refers to the data being separated by commas or some other punctuation. This format is useful for transferring to other services and is the most supported file type for 3rd party services.
XML & JSON
These are both formats that are friendly for humans and computers to interact with. Very common and they can be used in countless ways and associated with lots of different data types. This is a common way to handle automated feeds of data from one website to another.
What can be exported?
Now that we know some of the formats of exported data, let’s take a look at what can be exported from WooCommerce. If you know how or have a developer with experience, pretty much anything stored in your website database can be exported. We are going to focus on the most common types of data you might want to export from a WooCommerce store.
User data consists of two types of information. The direct user information such as their name, username and email address. Extra information is also associated with users. This includes personal preferences, contact information and mailing preferences.
User data is mostly exported for populating a new website with users or creating a mailing list. Please note that you still need to follow relevant data protection laws when exporting.
Customer data is an extension of user data in WordPress and WooCommerce. Even if your website doesn’t allow customers to login, customer information is still associated with a WordPress user.
Customer data will include all WooCommerce information. This includes shipping and billing addresses, contact details, order history and links to specific order data.
Customer data is important as it is used in conjunction with order information for many types of reporting such as ROI, revenue and profit information.
Order data is the heart of any WooCommerce store. Not only is order data what powers the order processing workflow in WooCommerce but it also contains order histories and details, refunds, associated customers, extra notes that may be added to an order, stage in the order processing cycle and payment details.
Order data is one of the most powerful tools that can be used to analyse your store performance. WooCommerce comes with a whole host of built-in reports that can be enhanced with plugins but you can also export order data if you would like to process the data in a specific way outside of your website.
Product data contains all information associated with products on your site. It will include specific details of the product such as the SKU, name, description and images. Alongside this it will also have associated data such as product variations, grouping, packages, associated subscription preferences etc.
This type of data is often exported to populate a new store. This doesn’t have to be WooCommerce. When exported in the correct format you could use this data to populate an Amazon Marketplace store, eBay shop and even a Google Shopping account.
Tools for exporting data
Earlier we mentioned that there are various tools and plugins available to help with exporting your data. Below we cover some these.
XML, JSON and other data feeds
One of the most powerful uses for exported data is to create a “feed”. The idea of a feed is to generate an automatically populated and regularly updated file containing whatever data you would like. This feed can be shared with various 3rd party services to allow for an automated means of sharing data regularly.
A very common use for this would be to keep your WooCommerce store in sync with another e-commerce solution such as Amazon or eBay. As you update your WooCommerce store with product data for example, this can automatically populate your 3rd party store using the regularly updated feed of data.
Other uses include a centralised e-commerce management platform separate from your WooCommerce and other e-commerce stores where data from all sources is regularly updated to allow for store management and product or order analysis.
Plugins to assist with data exports
WordPress does include the ability to export data and newer versions of WooCommerce also include the ability to export data to comply with GDPR and other data laws. These methods are great but they do not provide you flexibility to choose what is exported and in what format as easily as other methods.
There are various plugins available that will either add specific non-customisable export functionality or more complex and flexible customised export functionality.
Plugins such as the WP All Import Export addon allow you to configure many different types of data export and either setup a download of the file or to automatically generate a feed. The data exports are setup with a user interface within the plugin settings and can be incredibly complex to suit your needs.
Custom data exporters
Plugins for generating feeds can be a very cost-effective and user-friendly way of setting up data exports and feeds from your store. The limitation of any plugin is that you can only work within the confines of how the plugin has been configured. There are lots of situations where a plugin-generated export or feed is simply not going to be enough.
For example, plugins often struggle with incredibly large sets of data and can have a negative effect on the rest of your site. Sometimes you may want to process the data in a specific way before using it in your export such as automatically calculating sales figures and sometimes you want to integrate a feed with a 3rd party in a very specific way that simply isn’t possible with a plugin. This is often the case with a store that may have many thousands or tens of thousands of products and orders that would overwhelm most systems if sent in a single batch.
In these cases only a custom built export will work. By hiring a developer to build you a custom export you have complete control over how the data is processed, exported and shared with 3rd parties. The upfront cost can be justified by the time-saving nature of the export.
If you’d like any more information about exporting data, setting up feeds for specific services or building a custom exporter then please reach out to our team who would be happy to share their expertise.