GTMetrix is the most popular non-Google tool for analyzing website speed. The reason for its popularity is the detail it provides about the factors affecting your website speed.
When you run a report, here’s what you’ll see:
GTMetrix Grade: A proprietary score showing the performance of your WooCommerce store.
Web Vitals: Summary of your web vitals score.
Detailed Results Table: Load times are explained in detail here with recommendations for improving the performance.
The most innovative feature on the GTMetrix results page is the waterfall section. Here you can see which elements of your website loaded in which order. Timings are recorded, so you can see what causes slow loading.
If you look at the results and find your WooCommerce site is too slow, then you’ll need to narrow down the causes and make a plan for improving the speed.
Let’s explain the seven most common causes of slow website speed.
7 Causes of Slow WooCommerce Store Performance
We’ve compiled a list of the seven most common things that could be slowing down your WooCommerce site.
Let’s have a quick look at each one without getting into a highly technical deep dive.
A Slow Website Hosting Provider Kills Performance
Your hosting service is the first thing to check if your site has speed issues. The WooCommerce themes and your store’s pages can all be totally sorted, but a slow website hosting service can cripple your speed.
Let’s explain a few reasons why your hosting provider may be ruining your use experience:
Your hosting service has oversold its services. They have a fixed capacity for their servers and hardware. If they have too many tenants, then they will have slowdowns.
Your hosting provider has noisy neighbors. Your WooCommerce website could be on a shared web hosting with other websites that are super busy.
Your hosting provider is not optimized for WordPress. Many hosting providers set up their servers to support multiple ecommerce platforms from a single web server.
The only way to fix a bad hosting is to get a different hosting. If your current provider can make an upgrade, then they may also help you migrate all your files. If not, then you should find a better host and move.
No Caching Plugin for Your Site
A cache plugin will store common requests for a period of time. This speeds up your website by reducing the need for your server to compute these requests again and again. The cache plugin just serves the saved file.
If you don’t use a cache plugin, then every time someone visits your page, the WordPress dynamic CMS must generate a server request and run several processes before the page goes to your visitor.
Installing a cache plugin is usually very simple and can lead to dramatic speed increases because common requests are saved (cached). These saved requests are served to visitors much faster, thus improving your user experience.
Too Slow To Load Images Because Product Images Are Not Optimized
Large file sizes hurt load times because the user has to download the file. For product pages, this is especially damaging if the user has to wait a long time to see your product images.
The key things to remember about images, especially on products pages, are:
Choose the right image size. You probably don’t need a huge image.
Compress your images to save file size. Aim for 70-90% compression.
Use modern file formats, such as WebP, instead of older formats.
If you haven’t optimized your images, then their larger file sizes will be slowing down your WooCommerce store.
No Content Delivery Network to Improve Page Load Speed
A content delivery network (CDN) is a distributed system of servers deployed in multiple data centers across the Internet. These servers maintain websites so they load faster for end users
You can think of CDNs as mutually reaching out all around the internet to grab a big piece of content and share it among themselves, and then send that back to you.
Using this technique we can activate dozens or hundreds of servers scattered across the world by hiring some fractional pieces from each one. The end result, more bandwidth for your website and faster page loading times for your readership.
The CDN also serves as an added level of security since its dispersed over many geographic locations, which reduces risk from natural disasters like earthquakes or fires while simultaneously.
Unfortunately for database administrators, there are many easy-to-fix, database related issues that can cause website speed problems. Slow queries are a major bottleneck in most databases and often indicate a poorly optimizing application.
Poorly indexed tables can be responsible for large chunks of wasted time, as the searching time shoots up when data is not properly managed. Many other different problems plague databases too – such as locking or fragmentation – but luckily they’re also usually easy to spot and fix if you know what you’re doing. Data causes website speed to slow down quite regularly because of so many little things that add up over time.
Bad Theme for Ecommerce Platforms
A theme influences your site speed in a few ways.
First, it determines how a website’s pages are generated and served to the user on your behalf. So, depending on what you’re looking for, this can account for some or all of the difference in performance.
Second, not all themes have been coded equally. With something as complicated as CSS/HTML coding, there will always be differences which have an impact on load-time. Last, any images that are loaded affect both initial viewing time and page loading time. Your theme could be serving these images inefficiently and killing your page load times.
Slow Plugin That Damages Website Speed
A bad plugin can have a powerful negative impact on the speed of your website for three main reasons.
It may be coded poorly which means that it isn’t as efficient at work and is utilizing more server resources than necessary to do its job. This impacts your server performance even if not all visitors are using the plugin and therefore negatively affecting their experience.
A lot of plugins are installed directly on visitors’ computers through an executable file (rather than remotely through a web host) which makes them slow by nature – bad plugins exacerbate this issue by taking up memory or CPU time unnecessarily when they could just be quietly doing their job in the background and have insignificant impact overall.
Some plugins like analytics programs can purposefully take up extra memory to do their intended job. Analytics plugins for WooCommerce stores can create huge file sizes and really slow down your WordPress site.
An easy test to see how your plugins are performing is to run a speed test with your plugins switched on. Then, switch them off and test again. The difference (especially if you repeat this process a few times) is the result of your plugin performance.
How do I Increase WooCommerce Speed?
Okay, so maybe your WooCommerce site isn’t as fast as you want. What can you do about it?
Here are 10 ways to improve your WordPress speed and boost revenue for your WooCommerce store.
Increase WordPress Memory Limit
There are three ways to increase your WordPress memory limit. WordPress makes this fairly easy, but you can consult a developer if you feel nervous about making these changes.
Method 1 – Change The WP Memory Limit Using The (php.ini) File
Find or locate your php.ini file. If needed, create your own and place it in the root directory of your WordPress folder.
Open your php.ini file then edit it.
Find the line: memory_limit = 32M
Change the 32M or any number you find there to your desired limit (e.g. 256M).
Save your changes and reboot your localhost or server.
Method 2 – Change The WP Memory Limit Using The (wp-config.php) File
Find your wp-config.php file in the root directory of your WordPress installation.
Open the wp-config.php file with a text editor then locate the line that includes: define(‘WP_DEBUG’, false);
Then add after it, the below line of code: define (‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’);
Save the wp-config.php file then refresh your website.
Method 3 – Change The WP Memory Limit Using The (.htaccess) File
Search for your .htaccess file which should be located in the root directory of your WordPress installation. If you can’t find it then it might be hidden. Thus, make sure to check your hidden files when locating it.
Open the .htaccess file with a text editor and add the following line of code:
php_value memory_limit 256M
Save the .htaccess file then refresh your website.
Optimize Images To Speed Up WooCommerce
Your WooCommerce store probably has images on its product pages. Image files an dramatically affect page load time because the users must download the images when they open the page.
Let’s show you how to speed up the images on your WordPress site.
Use a modern format for your image files.
The best choice is probably WebP. JPEG and PNG images are more widely supported, but can have larger file sizes.
Compress your images for speed optimization.
A compression ratio of 70-90% is ideal and shouldn’t cause too much loss of quality.
Resize your images.
Look at your WooCommerce store and products to find the right sizes for your images. You might need a few sizes to fit the placements of your images.
Consider cropping your images.
Depending on your WooCommerce store and industry, you might be able to crop extra space around the focal point of your images.
Use a tool to do most of the heavy lifting for you. There are options, such as the EWWW Image Optimizer and Imagify. The EWWW Image Optimizer is a little cheaper and uses your own server tools for extra privacy and security.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Running your WooCommerce store with a Content Delivery Network will speed up your site by bringing your files closer to your users.
Let’s cover the two main things to evaluate when you choose a CDN:
The performance of the CDN itself. There are two main speed KPIs to check:
Latency, or the lag between the user’s request and the server’s response, should be as low as possible.
Throughput should be as high as possible.
How much the CDN will cost. You have many options for a CDN, so don’t overpay.
A CDN should dramatically improve your page load speed, especially if your website features many static pages.
Use a Cache Plugin Like WP Rocket for Speed Optimization
Boost your WordPress WooCommerce store with a plugin like WP Rocket. WP Rocket does a few things right out of the box.
Here are the six top features of WP Rocket:
You can visit the WP Rocket website for more info about their features. Pricing starts at $49 per year for a single website.
Clear Customer Sessions And Expired Transients
Most WooCommerce customer sessions are cleared automatically after a period of time. However, sometimes this doesn’t happen. The result is a bloated, slow wp_options table in your WordPress database.
Transient records should be cleared automatically after a set period of time. If they are causing problems, you can use a plugin like Transient Cleaner to sort them out.
WordPress customer sessions should also be removed automatically. Unremoved sessions can really affect website performance. Here’s how to fix it:
Run this query on your wp_options table to see all the sessions currently in your table:
You can then run this command to remove these sessions:
Of course, many people get a bit nervous with this level of work on their websites. If you suspect these problems, you may consider hiring a WooCommerce developer to resolve these problems on your websites.
Use A Lightweight WooCommerce Theme And Page Builder
WooCommerce stores and WordPress themes affect your user experience because they determine how fast your site loads. Pick a faster theme for better speed optimization.
Which theme is fastest? You should look at these metrics that directly affect site speed:
The fully loaded time for the page, especially your checkout pages.
Total page size before you add your products and information.
WooCommerce store owners almost always use WordPress plugins to increase the functionality of their stores. However, your WordPress plugins can slow down your stores and cost you sales.
Here’s how plugins affect your website speed:
High bandwidth crawlers
High bandwidth IP addresses
High bandwidth download files
High bandwidth files (eg. images)
Total bandwidth usage (for monitoring)
Any of these five things will slow down your site. To find problems, use GTMetrix to run a website speed test. A close examination of the waterfall chart will show you which plugins use the most resources.
If you have plugin issues, you can resolve them easily. Let’s list a few simple steps you can take:
Swap your plugins for lightweight alternatives.
Disable plugins on selected pages to boost performance.
Use another plugin such as Asset CleanUp or Perfmatters.
One easy way to make your ecommerce store run faster when you have slow plugins is to just use less of them. Disable any plugins you don’t really need.
Unload Unused Assets
Asset CleanUp can let you selectively disable scripts and scripts from pages where they don’t need to load. This requires testing (or a staging site) but you need to learn where scripts are loaded.
Another alternative is to use Perfmatters to perform the same function.
WooCommerce sites, especially larger ones or ones who are hosted on a slow host, tend to have one small yet slow request. The request is an AJAX request that WooCommerce makes by default on all fresh installs of woocommerce.
The resulting cart fragments can slow down your cart page, which is one of the most important pages on your ecommerce store.
Here’s how to fix cart fragments:
Step 1: Go into your WooCommerce Settings go to products and turn off enable ajax add to cart buttons on archives. Also go ahead and redirect them to the cart page on addition. This step is technically optional but it’s done to force users to redirect to the cart page to avoid issues with caching setups.
Step 2: Dequeue the cart fragments JS. You can do this in a couple of ways for instance you can simply copy the below snippet into your child theme functions.php file or into a plugin like Code Snippets.
A plugin such as Perfmatters can do this for you if you don’t feel comfortable messing around too much with your site’s code and scripts.
Upgrade Your Ecommerce Website Hosting Service
We began our list of the seven problems by talking about the impact of a slow host server or hosting company. If your WooCommerce store struggles due to a slow WordPress host, then you’ve got to make an upgrade.
ThemeIsle is a trusted resource for those looking for the best themes. They’ve also done research to discover the best WooCommerce and WordPress web hosting companies.
The winner from their research was Kinsta. Kinsta is also a little pricey, but there are other options that can get the job done as well.
Better UX and Quick Response Lead to More Sales on Your WooCommerce Site
WooCommerce is our preference for the best ecommerce platform. However, it does require a little management to get the best user experience. If you put in the effort to follow these ten steps, your business will benefit from the faster speeds you provide for your users.
If you want help with the more difficult steps or just want a professional to take care of these for you, then contact us. One of our experts will audit your site and identify the steps to take to make the biggest impact on your speed and revenue.
Are You Looking for a WooCommerce Expert to Help Speed Up Your Ecommerce Store?
Dave’s role at TheeDigital is to help our clients meet their goals by creating websites that outperform their competition. Dave is a student of life and strives to continue learning the latest trends in the industry.
Having spent many years in the digital media world working in the television and newspaper industry as a graphic designer & design manager, these skills definitely benefit our TheeDigital clients.
As a business owner, you are constantly looking for ways to grow your company. One way of doing this is by starting an online store. But what platform should you use? There are many options out there, but two major ones are WooCommerce and BigCommerce.