Speed is non-negotiable for anyone selling goods or services, particularly online.Customers want a fast shopping experience. Yours isn’t the only store out there, and they won’t hesitate to abandon a shopping cart that doesn’t load quickly. If you’re running a pretty big online store, or you’ve seen dramatic growth over the past couple of years, it may be time to step up to a host that’s dedicated to eCommerce or hosting that is specifically optimized for WooCommerce. An experienced eCommerce host understands that there are different systems at play on these platforms – there isn’t just content to manage but a ton of processes that handle everything from blogs to emails to highly secure payment processing functions.
The truth is that the average WordPress host isn’t the best choice for large eCommerce websites, particularly during heavy traffic periods. It pays to work with a host who understands eCommerce and has its eyes wide open about why there would be an upward spike in traffic—and not make false assumptions—and can quickly accommodate and adjust. While a WooCommerce site is, at its core, a WordPress site, it requires management that’s very different than what a standard (content-oriented) WordPress site requires.
Every WooCommerce store has the same parts. Where most of the small business owners get it wrong or ignore is the underlying infrastructure by their hosting provider. You can keep on optimizing the front end, WordPress, WooCommerce if choice of infrastructure is not good, it will not load any faster.
Just remember that there are layers, in this order, and that a visitor gets to the top long before they get to the bottom. Now here’s where the performance dynamics come up, when you’re hosting WooCommerce Stores. For everything that isn’t your actual cart, you want the top layer to be where all your customer requests end. A WooCommerce site needs more of everything to deliver a seamless, enjoyable customer experience: more time on site management, more attention to front-end tasks that affect speed, more development skills, and more power. Not all hosts can deliver on this.
WooCommerce can be scaled but perhaps not as easily as a standard WordPress site. You should make careful choices about where you want to dedicate and sacrifice site speed, and the focus should be on the front end where the customers are hanging out.
As you become more familiar with WooCommerce tools, you’ll notice that the site functions quite differently from a WordPress site. What might be a good practice on WordPress could have a negligible or even harmful impact on a WooCommerce site?
Many eCommerce site owners try to handle front-end speed issues on their own, with limited success. In over 10 years of helping customers, I’ve seen several instances where front-end elements that work well on WordPress sites cause major speed concerns on WooCommerce sites, which as we know, is all-important to shoppers.
Caching. Probably the biggest mistake online stores make occur during caching. This essential function stores data so that future requests for the same data can be quickly and easily delivered, creating a faster and more pleasant shopping experience.
Caching is often the main component to managed WordPress hosts and it’s a great thing for content-heavy sites, but on a WooCommerce site, it can be very disruptive if it isn’t properly configured.
Online stores have a completely different purpose than marketing websites and blogs. Each shopper on your site has a unique identifier on your shopping cart. In fact, WooCommerce has very helpful guidelines on configuring caching for your store. They explicitly state that the cart, account and checkout sections should always be excluded from being cached.
What should be cached? Browsing history for customers who abandon shopping carts or who never started one. Make it easy for them to review what they looked at last week or ten minutes ago, whatever makes sense for how they use your site.
This is a caching system that is optimized for WooCommerce
NGINX Caching: a high-performance web server, can completely replace Apache or run alongside it in a reverse-proxy configuration. The WordPress Optimized stack uses the reverse-proxy configuration, meaning that NGINX requests the actual content from Apache. This configuration allows us to perform full-page caching, as well as serve static content (such as images and stylesheets) directly from NGINX. This results in significant speed increases and limits the number of connections to Apache. In other words, this configuration allows the server to deliver cached and static content to the user very quickly.
Plugin or Extension Overload. WooCommerce itself is a WordPress plugin, albeit one with an ecosystem entirely its own. There are thousands of extensions (sometimes referred to plugins as well!) that work with the WooCommerce plugin. WooCommerce and WordPress developers have created suites of them that automate processes like checkout, payment processing, fulfillment, shipping and lots more.
Keep in mind that loading too many plugins or extensions can noticeably slow down the site and impact the customer experience. And as we noted, some WordPress plugins like caching may be good for a content site but need to be used strategically on an eCommerce website.
We’ve seen successful eCommerce businesses that have added tons of plugins and extensions they intended to address functionality. Unfortunately, the result was a jumbled Frankenstein mess of a website that ended up compromising speed on page loads and other places.
Theme Options. We work with a lot of WooCommerce themes and know that some of the options they offer eat a lot of speed for little return.
Coupons: How complicated does a coupon have to be? I’ve seen coupons that allow for settings that restrict particular payment methods or only work with “matching” products. How in the world does this serve the customer? I get that it may bring you, the merchant, a small discount from Visa or a particular brand you sell, but is it worth frustrating customers with such restrictions? Not to mention that the added complexity can compromise page load and website speed!
Themes with “Skins”: Be careful about selecting themes with lots of “skins,” which are nice design options that may add more complexity to a site. Some skins are pretty benign and allow you to select more contrasting colors (good for browsing), while others allow for layout designs that add to the intricacy and don’t add much, if anything, to the user experience. (Keep in mind, too, that if a sizable number of your customers use their mobile devices when they visit your site, you want to keep the design simple for those smaller screens.)
Speed / Complexity: When it comes to themes, you’re trading speed for complexity. WooCommerce themes offer wonderful tools, but you may not need many of them. Sometimes the default settings put everything on and even if they aren’t actively doing much, just switching them off can reduce the complexity of your site. It’s worth a review to turn off the tools you don’t need or use.
Customization: If you want certain functions that aren’t in the theme you’ve been using, don’t jump to the conclusion that you must install a new one or find a suitable plugin or extension. Hire a skilled designer who understands how WooCommerce works and can customize a theme or create a specific extension.
There are ways to determine just how to configure the best front-end experience for your customers online. They ultimately depend upon your theme and the elements that load when a customer lands on your site the first time. Choose wisely, and you can get that insanely fast website that meets most, if not all, of your customers’ preferences.
PHP-FPM: An optimized PHP handler, PHP FastCGI Process Manager (PHP-FPM) provides high performance and lower latency page execution. It does this by maintaining and adjusting an on-demand pool of workers for each domain. Each PHP-FPM master controls a group of pools, with each pool associated with a single domain or virtual host. Each of these pools then handles a group of workers — the processes that handle the actual execution of PHP code. When the server sends a request to a particular FPM pool, the pool delegates the work to an available worker or spawns a new worker if an existing one is not available (with the on-demand management type). This allows sites that receive a steady stream of traffic to load quicker, as there will typically be a worker available to handle the request. In addition, this architecture allows the workers to share a common pool of memory, permitting the use of opcode caching.
Opcode Caching: By default, your server enables Zend OpCache, PHP’s built-in opcode caching system, for PHP 5.5 and above. Opcode caching works by storing pre-compiled PHP code, which subsequent visitors can later execute again. This saves significant time, CPU usage, and I/O, since PHP does not need to re-interpret and re-compile your PHP code on every single execution.
I’d venture to guess that web management isn’t the type of business you want to be in, but here you are. You’re running a great online store that requires maintenance the same way a brick and retail store or a warehouse would need, just in different areas.
At this point, you may be wondering if WooCommerce is worth the effort! The answer here is a definite “Yes,” without any qualification!
WooCommerce is the best choice for your online business:
Most marketing experts suggest the future is truly a marriage between content and commerce. There is an entire (and huge) conference dedicated to this topic. And as you know, WordPress delivers top-notch content management and with WooCommerce you can truly deliver content commerce.
If you decide to beef up your product descriptions beyond a couple of sentences—most experts recommend 350 to 400 words—consider Yoast’s customized tool for WooCommerce. RankMath is one of the those “must have” WordPress plugins. In addition to recognizing the different nature of SEO on eCommerce sites, it boosts social share, particularly on browsing and sharing sites like Pinterest.
TDWS enables you to get high performance managed WooCommerce hosting solution with added WP security features. You can easily accelerate your WooCommerce store with these amazing features.
Apart from this, themes & plugins management by TDWS Managed WooCommerce enables you to quickly find and install a plugin or theme on a WordPress instance or several instances at once. Activate and deactivate plugins on a single or multiple WordPress instances. Bulk remove plugins and themes that are not needed.
Also, TDWS Global Monitoring System (Pro-active Monitoring) will help you keep an eye of your website’s visitors and transactions. Make sure you know about hiccups and downtime of your website before your audience and customers!