WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress. We have a wealth of experience assisting a variety online stores operating on the software.
For basic WordPress sites, see our Guide to Updating WordPress websites here.
You will need to update your WooCommerce store for three good reasons: so it works, so it’s secure and so you stay ahead of your competitors.
Updating a WooCommerce store means running your WordPress updates in a slightly different order. Five elements will need updating:
- WordPress Core
- WooCommerce Plugins
- Parent theme
- Child theme
Steps for updating your WooCommerce store
Take a backup. You might have options for this in your hosting. Otherwise you can use a service such as UpDraft Plus.
Test updates in a staging environment using sandbox mode. This is especially important for WooCommerce sites.
Update WordPress Core
You can do this automatically or manually. If you have auto-updates turned on and working, you may still need to manually update for major version releases.
Depending on your setup and settings, you may be able to simple press “update” in the Update Core page here: /wp-admin/update-core.php
If the file permissions are not setup to allow this, you may be prompted to enter your FTP information.
You can also update WordPress by uploading all the new files via FTP, which is the long way around.
If you purchased your plugins from an established developer or company, your plugins will likely have update notices prompting you from within the dashboard.
Backup before you click, and try to keep a quick record as you update so you know which plugins to check if something seems out of place afterwards.
If you have a custom plugin, you may need to hire the original developer, or a new one, to bring it up to date with the latest versions of WordPress, themes and other plugins. Contact us , we are always happy to assist!
Themes from the WordPress repository update in broadly the same way as plugins and the WordPress core. Go here: /wp-admin/update-core.php
If you have issues updating a theme, it will often be based on file permissions.
Commercial WordPress themes each have a different regime but should be fairly self explanatory, assuming you got the right license and an API key.
Update WooCommerce Plugin
Update WooCommerce LAST. After you update your plugins and themes, and WordPress itself. Why? Because this allows any potential incompatibilities which may have existed in the old plugins or themes, to already have been replaced (the theme and plugins would be “backwards compatible” to work with old versions of WooCommerce, but the reverse is necessarily not true – WooCommerce will have added new stuff which didn’t exist when the older theme / plugins were launched).
This is in two parts – the WooCommerce plugin update and the database update.
This step is missed surprisingly often – there is often a database update routine in WooCommerce updates (because some DB structure was changed) and this requires a purple button to be pressed. It will show at the top of your admin. A surprising amount of store managers and admins don’t see this button. Just get used to running this after updating WooCommerce. In non developer speak: reload the admin to see if the Database update button appears. If it does, press the button!
Committing your changes
If you’re using a staging environment, have followed the above steps and tested to ensure everything’s working as intended, setup a Coming Soon Page and choose a quiet web-traffic time, based on your analytics, then either repeat the process you just did in staging in your live site – it should be a 3-5 minute operation (assuming you have no issues); or, simply push your staging -> live.
For several reasons, I prefer not pushing staging -> live (in all host environments) because this can very often be a process which is not 100% foolproof. Coming Soon (maintenance) mode for 3-5 minutes for non contentious updates are often a less problematic process.
That said, we do all of this on behalf of clients – if you’d like us to lighten your load, simply request a callback!
If you get the “white screen of death“, error messages or any other undesirable result, it is almost always a plugin or theme incompatibility of some kind.
You can tell this (ideally in staging) by deactivating all plugins, using a standard WordPress theme, updating the WordPress and… it didn’t break.
Then turn on your theme.
If it works, you have a plugin conflict.
If it doesn’t there’s something in your theme.
Check the logs.
Then, turn on each plugin in turn until something stops working. When things break, the plugin you just activated is your culprit.
You need to fix the plugin conflict by either, checking the logs, hiring an expert, choosing a different plugin or generally doing something which will mean this conflict is no longer an issue for you. Repeat with the rest of the plugins (sometimes you will have more than one issue to correct).