Powerful eCommerce Functionality for a Growing Online Business

Online fitness community Functional Bodybuilding sees gains in site performance and revenue with WP Engine’s eCommerce platform and optimized caching for WooCommerce.

Industry: Health & Fitness

Site: functional-bodybuilding.com

Challenge: Upgrade eCommerce functionality and site performance to better serve high concurrent traffic while maintaining the flexibility and creative agility of WordPress. 

Solution: WP Engine’s eCommerce hosting, optimized for WooCommerce stores with best-in-class caching and search.

Results: Improved site speed and performance during the largest launch in Functional Bodybuilding’s history. Since upgrading to WP Engine’s eCommerce platform, the site has experienced zero downtime, its email subscriber list continues to grow, and the business has achieved its highest monthly revenue to date.

Functional Bodybuilding is an online fitness community and series of workout programs designed by former competitive Crossfit athlete Marcus Filly. The Functional Bodybuilding approach allows users to embark on personalized coaching and nutrition plans, including pre-packaged courses, subscription-based training, and one-on-one coaching.

“I’ve been reluctant to go with hosted site-building platforms in the past, because you run the risk of losing ownership of your site. But using an open source option like WordPress—paired with WP Engine’s support, security, and WooCommerce-optimized performance—we’ve actually gained flexibility and creative freedom in the way we package our products and add value for our customers.”

—Satya Inayat Khan, Partner & CMO, Functional Bodybuilding

Strengthening an Online Community

Functional Bodybuilding was launched in 2017 as a new workout approach for people who had hit a plateau in their fitness journey.

Founded by six-time CrossFit Games competitor and celebrity trainer Marcus Filly, the online fitness community was born out of his own experiences with high-intensity workouts, burnout, and the desire to find a better way to stay fit.

Teaming up with business partner Satya Inayat Khan, the two used their combined expertise in exercise science and web development to begin building the company’s digital presence, which included a mix of static content and on-demand videos focused on Functional Bodybuilding’s unique brand of fitness.

Built on WordPress and WP Engine’s fully-managed hosting platform, the site provided Functional Bodybuilding with a solid foundation as it was growing, which included a surge in traffic during the Covid-19 pandemic as a large number of people pivoted to alternative, in-home fitness routines.

“I was set on using WordPress from the start, and I decided to go with the best WordPress-specific host to save myself some headaches,” Khan said.

“I wanted that robust support system that many of WP Engine’s hosting competitors lack, and it’s come in handy more than once over the past few years.”

While pandemic restrictions have waned and users have returned to the gym, the Functional Bodybuilding team has continued to innovate with engaging content for its growing base of users.

Some of that innovation has included new campaign models, which have opened up Functional Bodybuilding's library of ebooks for sale to a wider, global audience.

“Our goal has always been to provide as much value as possible to our customers, who generally receive our ebooks for free,” Khan said. “At the same time, we wanted to find a way to provide even more people with the opportunity to access our ebooks as a one-time purchase.”

Beefing Up WooCommerce for an Influx of Sales

As Khan and her team looked to expand the reach of Functional Bodybuilding’s content and accommodate a higher volume of traffic and sales, they began to look at options for upgrading server resources and eCommerce functionality.

“We expected a surge in traffic once our marketing efforts went into full gear, and we worked with WP Engine to find a solution that would help us scale,” Khan said.

Diving into WP Engine’s platform and features, the Functional Bodybuilding team was particularly interested in its managed WooCommerce solution, which features a combination of high-performance WordPress hosting and high-powered search functionality built specifically for WooCommerce stores.

“We were definitely interested in the enhancements WP Engine’s eCommerce solution provides for WooCommerce, which we were already using on our site,” Khan said. “But the optimized caching is what really caught my eye, and it's ultimately made a significant difference.”

Upgrades to WP Engine’s proprietary EverCache system in 2022 extended smart caching functionality to WooCommerce, allowing sites like Functional Bodybuilding to bypass the cookies used by WooCommerce and optimize cache delivery for static pages.

The new caching rules also automatically bypass cache in scenarios that would break functionality, resulting in more cached pages being served, especially for visitors further down the sales funnel.

For the Functional Bodybuilding team, the caching upgrades provide a way to maximize existing server resources and achieve the speed and scalability they needed, all while retaining the creative freedom and flexibility of WordPress.

“Using an open source option like WordPress, paired with WP Engine’s support, security, and WooCommerce-optimized performance, we’ve actually gained flexibility, scalability, and creative freedom in the way we package our products and add value for our customers,” Khan said.

The Results

With WP Engine's eCommerce solution in place, Khan said she and her team were able to see the difference in page performance almost immediately.

“Once we launched the campaign, and traffic really surged, the site was able to handle it,” she said, "thanks in no small part to the new caching capabilities and other WooCommerce optimizations on WP Engine’s platform.”

With faster page speeds and the ability to seamlessly serve more concurrent users, higher engagement—and higher revenue—have followed suit.

After launching their first global ebook campaign in July 2022, Functional Bodybuilding saw its highest monthly revenue to date.

“And we’ve continued to sustain a lot of that traffic and interest," Khan said. “Our email list keeps growing and we’ve had zero downtime since making the move."

"It’s just been abundantly clear that upgrading to the new eCommerce plan was the smart next move as we scale.”

The Functional Bodybuilding team has also continued to benefit from WP Engine’s easy backup restore points and development and staging environments, which are included with every site hosted on WP Engine’s platform.

These environments provide teams with a straightforward and safe way to test out new features and experiment with builds.

“Overall, the ability to grow and scale with WP Engine as our audience grows, knowing there are options available to us as that growth happens, and having a partner on the other end of the line from a support point of view, it’s been incredibly helpful,” Khan said.

“Looking to the future, as we test new, increasingly-sophisticated marketing models and campaigns, WP Engine will be extremely helpful as we work to gain a larger following and keep retention steady.”

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