Having a slow WooCommerce shop kills your conversions and causes you to make less money.
Since we started focusing on optimizing the loading speed of WordPress sites, WooCommerce in particular, we want to outline seven ways you might be slowing down your WooCommerce shop.
While there is a good reason for using most of the things we mention below, you always have to be aware of the trade-off in loading time.
For example, we'll talk about using Live Chat on your site - which is known to increase conversions and lead to more sales.
However, that exact Live Chat is also slowing down your site and causing the conversion rate to go down. Usually, they take off 1-3s off your loading speed, which is quite a bit.40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. - Kissmetrics. Via https://wpmastery.xyz/slow-woocommerce-shop Click To Tweet
And since the bounce rate (number of people leaving your site directly) is an important ranking factor for SEO and paid ads, you can achieve multiple benefits by having a fast WooCoomerce store.
Let's dive into seven of the most common factors that are slowing down WooCommerce.
Using Facebook chatbots
Facebook chatbots are all the hype these days. And for a good reason.
According to Jay Baer, 64% of Americans say 24h service is the best feature of chatbots. They're a great way to give your customers a pleasant user experience while providing more information at the same time.
However, using a Facebook chatbot also has a massive drawback. If you run a chatbot, it's likely one reason for your slow WooCommerce shop.
Let's look at the WP Mastery homepage with a ManyChat (great tool btw!) chatbot on it:
Now, here's the same landing page without a chatbot (I replaced it with email opt-in forms through Thrive Leads):
That's incredible, isn't it?!
By just removing the ManyChat tag and shortcode for the chatbot, the loading speed went from 6.3s to 2.6s and the page size got reduced by 35%.
For me, this is reason enough to not use the ManyChat bot on the homepage of WP Mastery anymore. WP Mastery is all about making sites loading fast, therefore I cannot allow the homepage to take 6s to load.
What I'll do instead is to only load the ManyChat code on lead generation pages, e.g. for getting your free loading speed analysis.
Similarly to the Facebook Chatbot, Live-chat tools also load scripts from external servers. Hence, they are slowing down your site - maybe even to a similar degree as ManyChat did in the previous example.
Creators of live-chat tools are aware of this issue and are providing advice on how to embed their software in the most efficient way.
WP Live Chat, for example, has written a short post with recommendations on configuring W3 Total Cache and setting up a CDN (surprise, a CDN most always helps!).
If you see a post like this, always be VERY cautious.
If you don't have experience with how loading JS and CSS impacts the rendering of your website, you can easily mess up the layout of your page.
I think WP Live Chat could have done a better job outlining the dangers of minification - besides just highlighting its undoubtedly solid potential for making your site load faster.
Their CDN recommendations go hand-in-hand with what my team uses for our speed optimization. If you book a CDN during one of our sales conversations, we'll set you up with a free CloudFlare account and integrate it for you.
We all love using videos to build our brand or to sell.
They work, as they help us build a better connection with our audience. Videos let us communicate the benefits of our products.
However, videos always load scripts from other websites. And thus attribute heavily to your slow WooCommerce shop.
It's not uncommon, that embedding a Youtube video on your website makes your site load more than 1MB in additional files from Youtube's servers.
Most often when we work on WordPress sites that use videos heavily, we make them load asynchronously.
For example, we worked on bossfitness.net recently. Angus Fairbairn, the owner, has some great videos on his website and wanted to keep them of course.
So we installed a solution that stores local screenshots of the thumbnail images automatically, and only loads the "fat" Youtube player when a visitor clicks on one of his videos.
With that method (amongst others), we brought down his loading time from > 13s to 2-3s on average.
Similarly to using videos for presenting products, sliders are also very popular for showcasing your products - at least for bestselling products or the newest ones.
However, many case studies have shown how much sliders can slow down websites. On lists about plugins that slow down WordPress, most often you'll find names like Slider Revolution or LayerSlider.
We often recommend removing Slider Revolution, LayerSlider and alike from slow WooCommerce shops.
Ideally, you wouldn't even replace them with a different slider plugin.
Don't scream at me yet. I know how this sounds.
But, do you really need a slider on your site? Is there not a single different way to present the information about your products?
Once you start thinking about the value a slider delivers to your audience (not to you as the website-owner), you might come up with a different way to show your products.
Who knows, maybe that new way works even better for your audience and drives more conversions than your slider?!
If you're desperate for a slider, we recommend Soliloquy Slider. This article breaks down how it compares to other sliders in terms of loading speed.
Social sharing buttons
Social sharing buttons often drag down the loading speed of websites, because most of them load scripts off the servers from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
They add more requests for a visitors browser to execute, more data to be transferred and more files you cannot cache on your end to make them load faster.
At the time of writing this post, I am not sure if I what plugin will use on WP Mastery.
Likely, I'll use this question as a reason to do a speed test comparison on a couple of plugins.
What I can say though is, that you should only install ONE social sharing plugin. You don't need any more 🙂
Using bloated themes
Most WordPress themes these days are bloated with functionalities you'll likely never need.
They have portfolios to showcase your work, pricing tables, page builders and other custom post types for all sorts of data.
When I take a look at the most popular theme on Themeforest, called Avada, I see that it adds post types for a new slider, portfolios, FAQs, and a page builder with roughly 40+ elements to chose from.
You can imagine how much data that adds to your database. Think of your database as a huge storage space.
Every time somebody comes to your website, your WordPress is searching through that storage space to find the right information (e.g. the right blog post) to show to your visitor.
Now, do you become more efficient in finding what you're looking for if you add more stuff to your storage space? Not exactly, correct. The same is true for your website's database.
If your theme does clutter up your WP backend similarly, ask yourself if you really need all these functions. How likely is it, that you'll extend your site with a portfolio of your work if you're a car dealer?
Sometimes, it makes sense to switch to a more streamlined and less bloated theme.
While the ideal WordPress site wouldn't use a page builder (they also slow down the site), sometimes they're worth the trade-off. Page builders allow you to be flexible in designing landing pages, sales pages, etc. - without having to touch the code any time you want to change the layout.
The only thing you really need to ensure is, that your theme is compatible with WooCommerce.
Not optimizing product images
As the last tip, I have a big one - product images.
While you want your images to look good on retina devices, I regularly see websites that upload images that are way too big in terms of dimensions and file size.
Inside WooCommerce, you specify how big your images are shown on your website. Auttomatic has written a great documentation article about their image sizes, I recommend you read through it.
Do you know the exact dimensions of your product images? If not, you might want to take a look at them again.
WordPress does generate thumbnails for every single image you upload. If you're uploading images in the wrong dimensions (that is, width and height in pixels), your site might be cropping your product thumbnails weirdly.
You can fix that by following three steps:
- Check the current settings for your image sizes in WooCommerce and make sure you're happy with them. If you want to adjust the size settings, I recommend you take a backup of your site before!
- Reformat the product images on your computer to fix the specified dimensions and re-upload them.
- Install the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin and have it run through your media library.
You can further optimize your images by installing a plugin like EWWW Image Optimizer.
With this plugin, you might be able to shave off another second of your loading speed. Give it a try!