Want to speed up your eCommerce website?
Speed is essential for the success of an eCommerce site. It not only improves customer experience, but it directly affects conversions and sales.
In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to easily speed up your eCommerce store to enhance performance and conversions.
Why Speed Matters for Your eCommerce Store
Speed is really important when it comes to user experience. No one likes a slow website, a slow computer, or a slow app.
But for online stores, a slow website can actually cost you business.
For example, a study found that a single-second delay in page load time results in 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.
In simpler words, slow websites can lead to lower sales.
Now besides user experience and sales, eCommerce site speed also affects your SEO rankings. Search engines like Google consider speed as an important user experience indicator and ranking factor.
In fact, Google’s page experience search update is solely focused on user experience metrics like bounce rate and website speed. A faster eCommerce website will help you bring more free traffic from search engines.
Now, let’s see how to easily bump up your eCommerce store speed and performance.
1. Choose a Better Ecommerce Hosting Provider
All eCommerce performance optimization you make to your website will have little effect if you don’t have a good eCommerce hosting provider.
Not all WordPress hosting companies are the same. For better performance, you need to choose an eCommerce hosting provider that does the following:
- Offers a stable and up-to-date platform to host your eCommerce store.
- It is optimized for WordPress, WooCommerce, or any other eCommerce plugin that you may want to use
- Their servers are optimized for speed and performance. This means built-in caching, security, and other features to improve performance
We recommend using SiteGround. They are one of the officially recommended WordPress hosting providers available in the market.
SiteGround servers run on Google Cloud Platform which is famous for high performance. They have built-in caching and even have their own optimization plugin that automatically implements many of the performance tips that we’ll recommend later in this article.
After setting up your eCommerce store on a good hosting service, you can implement the following optimization tips to boost performance.
2. Install a WordPress Caching Plugin
WooCommerce is a dynamic eCommerce platform. This means all your product data is stored in a database and product pages are generated when a user visits your website.
To do this, WordPress needs to run the same process each time. If more people visit your eCommerce store at the same time, then it will slow down and may even crash.
A caching plugin, helps you fix that problem.
Instead of generating pages each time, a caching plugin shows user a cached version of the HTML page. This frees up your server resources and allows it to run more efficiently thus improving website loading time.
There are some great WordPress caching plugins available, and popular WordPress hosting companies like SiteGround and Bluehost offer their own caching systems.
We recommend using WP Rocket. It is the best WordPress caching plugin in the market with the most user-friendly settings.
Unlike other WordPress caching solutions, WP Rocket doesn’t wait for users to visit a page to generate a cached version. Instead, it automatically prepares a cache of your website and keeps it up to date.
With the right WP Rocket settings, you can easily get near perfect scores in speed test tools like Pingdom, GTMetrix, Google Pagespeed Insights, etc.
Top WordPress hosting companies, like SiteGround and Bluehost offer their own caching solutions too.
SiteGround SG Optimizer
SiteGround lets you easily turn on caching on your eCommerce store by using their SG Optimizer plugin.
This all-in-one performance tool includes caching, performance tweaks, WebP image conversion in WordPress, database optimization, CSS minification, GZIP compression, etc.
Simply install and activate the SG Optimizer plugin in WordPress.
Upon activation, click on the SG Optimizer menu in your WordPress admin sidebar to access plugin settings. From here, you need to turn on the Dynamic Caching option.
Turn on Caching on Bluehost
Similarly, Bluehost also lets you use its built-in caching system for optimizing WooCommerce. Simply login to your Bluehost dashboard and go to My Sites page. If you have multiple sites, then select your site and then switch to the Performance tab.
From here you can select a caching level for your website. For example, you can choose eCommerce but if your website still remains slow then you can come back here and increase the caching level.
3. Use Latest PHP Version
WordPress and WooCommerce are both mainly written in the PHP programming language.
With each new version, PHP improves in performance and becomes faster. It also fixes bugs and patches security issues that may compromise your website’s stability and speed.
This is why you should always use the latest PHP version.
You can find out your eCommerce store’s PHP version by going to Tools » Site Health in your WordPress dashboard and switching to the ‘Info’ tab.
From here, you need to click on the ‘Server’ section to expand it, and you’ll be able to see the PHP version used by your server.
If your website is running on a PHP version lower than 8.0, then you should reach out to your hosting provider and ask them to update it for you.
Note: Some managed WordPress hosting companies like SiteGround have built their own Ultrafast PHP to improve overall server response time. Others are using PHP FastCGI to help customers improve eCommerce speed.
4. Latest Version of WordPress & WooCommerce
WordPress and WooCommerce developers spend a significant amount of time on improving performance during each development cycle. This makes both apps run more efficiently and use fewer server-side resources.
Each new version also fixes bugs and strengthens security which is crucial for an eCommerce business.
As the store owner, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are using the latest version of WordPress, WooCommerce, other plugins, and your WordPress theme.
Simply navigate to Dashboard » Updates page to install all available updates.
5. Optimize Product Images for Performance
Product images are one of the most visually important things for an online store. Better product images keep customers engaged and can help boost sales conversion.
This is why it’s important to add high-quality product images. However, you need to ensure that large image file sizes are properly optimized.
There are two tips to optimize product images for the web without losing quality.
Firstly, you can optimize each product image on your computer before uploading it to your website. This requires image editing software like Adobe Photoshop, Affinity, Gimp, etc.
Most of them have an option to export an image for the web. You can also modify the quality of the image before saving it for upload.
Alternately, you can use an image compression plugin for WordPress. These plugins automatically boost your product image size for better site performance.
Besides image compression, the image file type you choose can also help. For example, JPEG images are better for images that have a lot of colors, whereas png images are better for transparent images.
6. Use a DNS Level Website Firewall
Brute force and DDoS attacks are common internet nuisances. Basically, hackers try to overload your server to break in, steal data or install malware.
Most hosting companies have basic safeguards that protect your websites from such attacks. However, one drawback of these attacks is that they make your website loads extremely slow.
This is where you need a Website Application Firewall (WAF).
Then, common WordPress firewall plugins run on your own webserver. This makes them a little less efficient as they cannot block suspicious attacks until they reach your server.
On the other hand, a DNS-level firewall is able to filter your traffic on the cloud and block suspicious attacks even before they reach your website.
We recommend using Sucuri. It is the best WordPress firewall plugin with a comprehensive security suite.
If you are searching for a free option, then Cloudflare free CDN gives you basic level DNS firewall protection.
7. Choose a Better WordPress Theme
WordPress themes control the appearance of your eCommerce store. However, not all of them are optimized for performance and often add too much clutter which makes your website slower.
When choosing a WordPress theme for an eCommerce store, you need to find the balance between functionality and speed. Theme features like sliders, carousels, web fonts and icon fonts can slow down your website.
We recommend going for a simple theme and then use plugins to add the features you need. This grants you better control over both the performance and appearance of your online store.
WordPress themes by StudioPress, Elegant Themes, and Astra are all optimized for performance. For more individual theme recommendations, see our expert pick of the best WooCommerce themes for WordPress.