Milliseconds decide between bounce and conversion in online shopping. If your WooCommerce store is too slow and your (potential) customers have to wait too long, your conversion rate will deteriorate. Shopping cart abandonment increases and you lose visibility, which means that you sell less than you could.
In this article you will learn, what makes a fast online store, how to check how your WooCommerce is performing and what you can do to make your WooCommerce faster.
Why speed is so important for an online store
The first impression of a store is the most important - and you achieve this through the loading time. No matter how elegant your design is and how intuitively the navigation works, if your web shop loads too slowly, the effort was more or less in vain. This is because the loading speed has a massive impact on the conversion rate (i.e. how many of your website's visitors visitors you convert into paying customers).
In addition, there are other factors that are influenced by load time, such as visibility and shopping cart abandonment. Let's take a look at the facts one by one:
1 Conversion rate
The following statistics will help you understand how important the loading speed of your WooCommerce store actually is for your conversion rate:
- Nearly 70% of users admit that page speed influences their willingness to buy.(Unbounce, 2019)
- Half of all 1145 respondents would be willing to give up animations and videos for faster loading times.(Unbounce, 2019)
- The first five seconds of page load time have the greatest impact on conversion rate.(Portent, Update 2022)
- The conversion rate of a website decreases by an average of 4.42% with every additional second of loading time (between 0 and 5 seconds).(Portent, Update 2022)
Let's take a simple example: 1000 people visit your WooCommerce store every day. On average, you generate 100 € in revenue per customer. Because your website loads one second longer, you lose 4.42% of the 1000 visitors who would have liked to buy. That's a total of 4420 euros in sales per day that you're missing out on.
Besides the conversion rate, the loading speed influences how visible your online store is. Since 2010, we know that page speed is one of the official Google ranking factors. The focus on optimization for mobile devices was added in 2018. In Mai 2020, Google also announced that the loading speed (Page Speed) is included in the evaluation of the user-friendliness of websites (Page Experience).
This means that optimizing the loading time (as part of WooCommerce SEO) can help improve your Google ranking. This makes it easier for (potential) customers to find you in the search results.
3 Shopping cart abandonment
The Baymard Institute analyzed 48 statistics on shopping cart abandonment and came to the following conclusion: 22 percent of online shoppers abandon because site loads too slowly. And 80 percent of all visitors shoppers who abandon a purchase never return to the site. Conversely, fast loading times and the associated positive user experience make it more likely to retain customers.
In a nutshell: Your sales stand and fall with the performance of your e-commerce store.
Before we get right into how you can make your WooCommerce faster, the question is: What is fast?
What is the optimal loading time?
What is fast or slow is defined by visitors their usage behavior: According to Google, the just-acceptable loading time for e-commerce websites is two seconds. Google itself aims for less than half a second. The highest conversion rate in e-commerce occurs on pages with load times between 0 and 2 seconds.(Portent, Update 2022)
When making your WordPress faster, keep in mind that there is a difference between actual (fast) loading time and perceived loading time of your visitors. Optimally, your online store should be fast and perceived to be fast. See our post Making WordPress faster
With these four tools you can measure the speed
Key figures help you to know where you stand, where you want to go and whether you are on the best way to achieve your goals. Making your WooCommerce faster means in concrete terms: Get under 2 seconds loading time - and that also in the mobile version.
To measure the performance of your website and determine the speed, the following tools will help you:
1. WebPageTest is the best and most comprehensive tool to determine the loading time of your website. Above all, it is the only tool we know of that shows the perceived loading time of your WooCommerce store. (There is a pro version and a free version, which already provides sufficiently detailed data.)
You can find out which settings you can make to analyze the performance of your website in our WebPageTest guide.
2. Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that quickly reveals the performance potential of your website. This gives you good hints on what you can optimize to speed up your WooCommerce store. However, the tool does not show what actually happens on your website. You should therefore not rely solely onPageSpeedInsights.
3. Pingdom Tools is free by default, but is also available in a pro version. With this tool you can test the loading time of over 70 query sites worldwide, which is interesting if you are internationally positioned. Otherwise, use the PageSpeed data you retrieve about Germany to check other tests. You should never rely on just one testing tool.
4. GTmetrix, like the other tools, generates a performance report based on the GTPerformance from the Lighthouse Website Audit Tool and the proprietary metric GTmetrix Structure. This covers the overall performance of the websites. The server test location is Vancouver (Canada).
Important: Instead of focusing on getting good school grades in PageSpeed tests, pay attention to the perceived loading speed of your website. Also note that results are easily skewed with repeated testing: You perform faster in the speed test the more often you enter your URL into the respective tool, which is due to caching.
That wasn't deep enough for you and you want to read more about PageSpeed? No problem! In our magazine you will learn everything about PageSpeed Insights the importance of website speed. You can also read how to measure the loading time of your website correctly and how to solve a typical problem when comparing performance.
Make WooCommerce Faster: Eight Tips and Tricks From Experts
Why you should make your online store faster, what is fast and how you can determine the speed, we have clarified. What matters now is how exactly you can make your WooCommerce faster.
#1 Optimize WooCommerce settings and reduce useless requests
The URL of your login page is domain.com/wp-admin/ by default. This is no secret even for bots and hackers. Therefore, change your login URL to something unique to protect yourself from brute force attacks and the like. At the same time, you are fighting against HTTP error 429, which is triggered when a user agent tries to access a certain site too often in a short period of time. This in turn initiates rate limiting so that your server resources are not completely exhausted by a high number of malicious requests.
As you can imagine, this reduces the performance of your WooCommerce website and wastes capacity. Therefore, avoid unauthorized login attempts by changing the URL of your login page. Helpful is among others the plugin WPS Hide Login.
#2 Use a fast WooCommerce theme
A fast loading time results from the sum of many measures. Therefore, it makes sense to either build your store on a light theme from the beginning or to retrofit it afterwards. In the WP Rocket Speed Test, the WordPress themes Botiga, Astra and Blocksy performed particularly well.
#3 Increase the WordPress memory limit
One thing is for sure: For an e-commerce store, the default WordPress memory limit of 32 MB is too tight. (The PHP memory limit determines the maximum memory quota that the main memory provides for PHP processes. This limit prevents servers from being overloaded by, for example, an incorrect script. More complex websites, such as a WooCommerce store, require a higher PHP memory limit to allow servers to handle the large and concurrent processes).
Error messages like "allowed memory size exhausted" mean for the speed of your website: It crawls or doesn't load at all. (At Raidboxes the PHP memory limit for WooCommerce solutions can be extended up to 2048 MB depending on plan.)
If you currently have too little disk space, contact your hosting provider.
#4 Reduce the number of plugins and WooCommerce extensions
For every little ailment that websites and stores can have, a plugin has been programmed by now. This is on the one hand practical and on the other hand you are tempted to install countless plugins and WooCommerce extensions. (WooCommerce extensions work like plugins.) This can quickly make you lose track and weigh down your website, making it slower.
In order not to hinder the performance of your WooCommerce, the quality of the plugins and extensions is most important. In addition, they should be compatible with each other. Plugins that perform some of the same tasks can interfere with each other's functionality.
Therefore, clean out and remove unnecessary plugins from your WordPress database to make your WooCommerce faster.
#5 Optimize your images
Your WooCommerce store thrives on images. However, if the images are not optimized for performance, your website will be lame as a snail. Reduce the file size of your images before you upload them to your website by choosing the right file format and optimizing the images for WordPress. When compressing image files, find the balance between file size and quality. The images in your WooCommerce store should not be pixelated.
JPEG is the best file format for product images. Even if you crop the images after taking them, you should not upload them to your WooCommerce store as a transparent PNG. Rather, add a white background directly and save them as JPEG. This way you save disk space and your website loads faster.
#6 Make WooCommerce faster with caching
If you want to achieve top speeds, caching is a must. Caching prevents WordPress from having to recalculate your site on every page load. Instead, your site isloaded from the cache ready to render.
You can get the caching performance boost either via caching plugins, like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache. Another possibility is that your hosting provider has already configured caching for you on the server side. Some hosts, like Raidboxes, offer this. This almost always eliminates the need to use caching plugins, which is ideal because third-party providers are excluded.
#7 Clean up your WooCommerce database
Nobody sprints with ballast, not even your website. Therefore, free your WooCommerce database from data junk that unnecessarily weighs you down. To do this, go through the steps described in the article Clean WordPress database explained steps through
- remove themes
- clean out plugins
- delete drafts
- delete revisions
- clean up and optimize media library
- delete WordPress sessions
#8 Optimize your store for mobile first
Mobile first pays into visibility, usability, and therefore your wallet. The easiest way to make your WooCommerce mobile-friendly is to use a responsive WordPress theme (like Astra, Botiga or Blocksy). Responsive means that the layout of your website adapts to the screen size of the device, which is essential for a good shopping experience.
After all, according to studies, more than half of all traffic comes from mobile devices(59.16 percent, excluding tablets). When the majority of your store visitors surfs mobile, don't most conversions also happen via smartphone? However, more visitors actually convert on desktop: In Q2 2022, three percent of visitors shoppers made purchases via desktop and only two percent of all those who visited the site via smartphone. (While the statistic relates to U.S. online stores, the same is reflected in global online shopping .)
Fast loading time begins with hosting
All other measures to make your WooCommerce faster are useless if your (WordPress) hosting can't keep up. For WooCommerce hosting, you should therefore pay attention to the following factors:
- Dedicated high-performance servers instead of shared hosting: If you share servers and computing power with other website operators, this slows down the loading speed of your store. To make your WordPress up to 400 percent faster, you need the full performance and computing power only for your WooCommerce. To ensure this, we at Raidboxes rely on vServer technology.
- Special infrastructure tuned for WordPress and WooCommerce : If the hosting is optimized for WordPress from A to Z, you can save yourself a lot of third-party plugins. At Raidboxes, for example, we also make sure that your website is running the latest WordPress version, or that you can have plugins updated automatically.
Conclusion: Making WooCommerce faster has priority
The phrase "time is money" sums up why speeding up your WooCommerce store should be a priority. Milliseconds decide whether you convert visitors into customers or drive them away forever with a lame user experience. The good news is that you can make your WooCommerce faster - from hosting to mobile-first optimization to database cleanup.