If you run a WooCommerce shop, there are some unique features you need to be aware of when it comes to hosting and optimization. We'll show you how you can use specialized WooCommerce hosting in order to optimize your customers' user experience, the search engine ranking of your shop and your conversions.
According to the latest data from BuildWith, 28 percent of the top one million e-commerce-sites use the shop system WooCommerce. This means the popular WordPress plugin has the largest market share, followed by Shopify (19%) and Magento (10%). Such success is hardly surprising when you consider that the free WooCommerce plugin turns your WordPress site into a fully functioning online shop. With over five million active installations, it's one of the most popular WordPress plugins of all time.
Read about the benefits and potential drawbacks of WooCommerce compared with other shop systems in our article WooCommerce: The Advantages & Disadvantages of the Popular Shop Plugin .
According to an infographic from Truconversion, just a single second of additional loading time will reduce your conversion rate by 7% and result in 11% fewer page views. These often-quoted statistics clearly demonstrate how important page performance is for your success. Not only will more customers have a negative user experience and abandon the checkout process but they are also highly unlikely to recommend your shop to anyone.
The performance optimization of your shop not only improves your customers' user experience, but it also increases your visibility. After all, page speed has been a key factor since 2010. official ranking factor. Since July 2018, Google has taken the page speed also for mobile searcheseasily.
You should consider these 4 things when hosting your shop
As WooCommerce websites usually generate a lot of data and requests, they place particular demands on the hosting and also require you to take one or two optimization measures. For this reason, I'll show you four things you should consider when hosting WooCommerce today:
How does the cache work for WooCommerce shops?
There have to be certain cache exceptions for online shops to function properly. The shopping cart, for example. Caching this area of your shop would lead to total chaos with your orders and would be problematic from a privacy point of view. Being able to exclude certain areas from caching is therefore an absolute must for your WooCommerce hosting.
It is therefore crucial that you, as a shop owner, develop an understanding of how much traffic your shop can cope with. You can do this, for example, with Loader.io. check. The tool simulates access to your site and shows when your shop is in danger of going down under the load. Or slowing down so much that users abort their visit. If you prefer to work with the command line, you can also use Apache Benchmark Tool instead.
Another area that can't be cached is the WordPress backend. Without optimization measures, long loading times occur, especially for large tasks like bulk uploads of product images or processing a huge amount of product information.
Simultaneous visitors in your shopping cart or large actions in the backend are directly reflected in the processor performance. You can't rely on caching to optimize these dynamic areas and need to find other routes for improvements.
A WooCommerce shop generates a lot of dynamic content and requests that cannot be cached so you need to have server performance to match.
During peak shopping hours, depending on the size and popularity of your store, there might be tens of thousands of visitors to your site at once. These visitors could be looking for products, filtering items by product category, filling their shopping cart, and making purchases - all at the same time.
This is exactly what your shop hosting should be equipped for. After all, potential sales are lost for every second your WooCommerce shop is overloaded or even offline.
More CPU power for high-traffic sites with high volume of orders
One important optimization measure for your WooCommerce shop hosting is to increase the number of CPU cores. After all, the server must be able to handle more load from the additional visits and corresponding database queries (for example, displaying products according to different filters). Our IT team like to use the metaphor of a fast-food restaurant to explain the principle:
Imagine the server of your WordPress website is a fast-food restaurant. Each person behind the sales counter represents a CPU core. If there's only one person behind the counter, only one request can be processed at a time. When you only have a few visitors, this isn't going to be a problem to start with.
However, if the number of visitors is so high that the restaurant is overwhelmed with requests, you're going to need more employees, i.e. more CPU cores. The more people there are at the sales counter, the more orders can be processed simultaneously.
In this context, it's important to understand that having more CPU cores doesn't automatically improve the load time of your WordPress website. Because the individual cores work equally fast. Increasing the number of cores rather ensures that more requests can be processed at the same time and that they don't overload your shop.
Give your shop enough PHP memory limit!
Optimizing server performance not only includes CPU cores and RAM but also an appropriate PHP memory limit. This limit determines the maximum amount of memory available for PHP processes and prevents the server from, for example being overloaded by a bad script.
A higher PHP memory limit is useful for more complex sites like online shops so the server is able to withstand large and simultaneous processes. For this reason, the PHP memory limit for our WooCommerce solutions is 512 megabytes.
The minimum version of PHP recommended by WooCommerce is PHP 7.2. At RAIDBOXES, you can also switch your shop to the even faster PHP versions 7.3 or 7.4 with just one click.
How many CPU cores does your WooCommerce shop need? TESTING
What exact specifications your WooCommerce hosting needs to offer depends on multiple things including your monthly visitors and page views per minute. There's no one single answer to this question. On our WooCommerce plans page you'll find a short guide to help you choose the right hosting solution for your shop.
Another factor that determines your server performance needs is the number, size, and quality of your plugins. If you use large plugins like Yoast SEO or Rank Math, for example, which need to be loaded on each of your pages, then your server must have the appropriate power to deal with it. The same applies if you want to link a cash register system to your shop as well and the server has to process constant live requests.
Large images and graphics can be huge performance eaters. As online shops usually need a lot of images to display their products, there's enormous potential for optimization here. Fortunately, there are various image optimization plugins.
Compressing your images properly not only has a positive effect on the loading time of your WooCommerce shop and thus on your customers' user experience, but it can also improve your search engine ranking and conversion rates.
As with any website today, you also need to optimize your images for mobile viewing. According to an eCommerce study by Qubit the mobile web accounted for up to 19 percent of total online sales in 2017. The results of the study also show online sales can be increased by up to 33 percent by improving mobile product discovery.
Be on the safe side with backups and staging
If a plugin update or some other change brings your website to its knees, it's essential to get your shop up and running again as soon as possible. And this is where your backups come in. In all WooCommerce plans, automatic backup of your site, is created automatically every night. This backup can then be restored with just a few clicks. You can also create additional manual backups at any time.
This means you no longer need to rely on any large plugins for backups - a plus in both security and performance. After all, our motto for plugins is "as many as necessary, as few as possible!"
To avoid problems occurring on your live site, you can use our staging to test changes on a copy of your website. When you're satisfied with the results, you can go live from the staging environment with one click. Don't forget to exclude the database tables with the orders and customers when overwriting the live site. This means you'll still be able to receive orders while making changes in the staging environment. These orders would've otherwise been lost when overwriting your live site.
GDPR: Data protection is more important than ever
When you operate a WooCommerce shop, you process personal data every day including, for example, customer addresses, account data, and credit card numbers. You need to take security and data protection seriously, especially against the background of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In our free, 30-page GDPR E-Book you'll find out what measures you need to take to make your WordPress website legally compliant.
It's best to find a WordPress host that offers free SSL certificates, daily backups, managed WordPress, theme and plugin updates and only uses servers located in Europe. In addition to all these features, RAIDBOXES has introduced even more data protection tools to save you as much work as possible in implementing the GDPR requirements. Examples include our WP Session Eraser and RB Login Protector.
A WooCommerce shop places extra demands on its hosting because of the many functions and dynamic processes involved in running a shop. To save yourself valuable time, money, and nerves, you should choose a host that is familiar with these special requirements, guarantees the performance and security you need, and offers first-class WordPress support.
At the end of the day, your host should give you space so you can concentrate on what's most important: developing your shop and products. This way, you can offer your customers a flawless shopping experience that they'll not only repeat but also recommend.
Further tips on WooCommerce can be found in our 70+ page e-book WooCommerce for Professionals: Online Shops with WordPress. The book is aimed at freelancers, agencies, WP professionals, and also WooCommerce novices.
What's your experience of WooCommerce hosting been like? Which requirements are particularly important for your shop? I look forward to your comment!