WooCommerce is by far the most used and most extensible eCommerce plugin for WordPress. It’s a powerful tool to sell products online, but a lot of folks out there underestimate its power.

One of the most asked questions about WooCommerce is:

How many products can WordPress (WooCommerce) manage? 

It’s a hard question, and it doesn’t have a straight answer. We are going to shed lights on the matter, and see if there is a limit or not.

What WooCommerce says about it?

On WooCommerce’s official documentation, there is no defined cap set. But they gave a hint of what can condition this limit, such as:

  • Hosting server & company
  • Amount of orders
  • Traffic

Without giving any further detail to the matter.

What does WordPress say about it?

If you are familiar with WordPress, you probably know that WooCommerce products are a Custom Post Type. So, any limit ruling posts will also rule products too.

As long as WordPress is concerned, you can have an unlimited number of posts. But technically, you can’t unless you have a really powerful server with unlimited resources.

The real limit is your server

Generally speaking, web servers’ performance is determined by:

  • Hardware components: CPU, RAM and Hard Drive
  • Software component: Web server software, PHP version, MySQL version and other software

We can sum up the relationship between the hardware and software components vs. performance by the following equation:

The more hardware resources you have + The best your software is optimized = The better performance you will have and by extension, the more products you can manage.

For WordPress, what eats the most resources is Queries.

Queries are the mechanism that links your request (asking for a page) to the final resulting page (the page you get). In the process, the web server with the help of the programming languages and the database server:

  • Deliver the request
  • Look for all needed information from the database
  • Build results
  • Integrate it into the final page
  • Then return it to your browser

As any database works:

  • The more you look for, the slower the response
  • The wider your items’ pool is, the slower it takes for results come up

What challenges the server is when it gets different requests at the same time. That particular scenario increases the CPU load and RAM available space even more.

Once those two resources are exhausted, you can do anything but wait for your turn to get your request processed.

What is the limit then?

The limit is how much yourself can take at once. New hosting services and web development push this limit further and further.

Using the best server features as server-side caching, faster scripting languages (like PHP7 or HHMV), performance-oriented database servers (like MariaDB), help considerably process requests more efficiently and therefore extend how many products your WooCommerce setup can handle.

Using a reliable caching plugin for WordPress and a CDN will help lighten the server’s load. Once these two features are fully functional, the server will only deliver cached versions of products. And that alone will contribute to fasten returning products and keep the server’s load low.

Using a WordPress Network will help extend the limit even further. Each website in the network will have a separate database. Remember, the number of items in the database influences the performance. If you have each product category for example as a separate website, this performance related detail wouldn’t apply.

For reference, I will include a list of per environment limit:

  • Shared hosting: Hundreds of products, until you get noticed by the server’s manager and asked to reduce your website’s CPU usage.
  • VPS 2 cores, 1Gb RAM: up to 3000 products.
  • VPS 4 cores, 2Gb RAM: up to 7000 products.
  • VPS 4 cores, 4Gb RAM: up to 20000 products.
  • VPS 8 cores, 8Gb RAM: up to 50000 products.

WooCommerce stores with more than 10k products

Some webmasters on forums report having stores with more than 100k products. I have also seen other seeking to build environment to server 1M posts.

What I could find as real-world examples only show stores holding less than 50k products. I’m sharing with you a few links with my finds:

  • http://www.soulbrother.com has +40k items
  • http://hbx.com has +40k items
  • http://www.tarox.co.uk has 35k items
  • http://alefbookstores.com has +34k items
  • http://shop.spectator.co.uk has +16k items
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