WooCommerce Wednesdays: How WooCommerce page speed impacts your bottom line

8 min read
Bradley Taylor

Page speed is essential for online stores. The faster your ecommerce pages load, the better the shopping experience for your visitors. This not only leads to more orders, but also an improved reputation, better SEO, and higher customer retention.

In this post, we’ll examine how page speed impacts your ecommerce revenue and how you can boost your WooCommerce speed to provide a great experience for all of your visitors.

How does page speed affect ecommerce?

Today’s ecommerce shoppers have high expectations from merchants. When consumers visit your site, they expect a seamless experience in which they can find and purchase their desired products without any friction. Failure to meet these expectations will cause potential buyers to leave.

And with so much competition, they may never return.

So, how fast does your site need to be to satisfy customers? A study from Skilled reveals that 47% of shoppers expect your pages to load in two seconds or less. They also found that 79% of customers that are “dissatisfied” with page load times are less likely to return to your store.

Let’s look at the substantial impact this can have on your business.

Lower conversion rates

The most significant area where you’ll notice the effects of a slow site is your conversion rates. Longer loading times are directly tied to fewer conversions and vice versa.

According to Portent, the highest ecommerce conversion rates are from pages loading between one and two seconds. Sites that load in one second have conversion rates 2.5 times higher than sites that load in five seconds, and conversion rates decrease by an average 0.3% for every extra second it takes for your website to load.

Let’s put this in perspective to see how this impacts your ecommerce revenue, say, if your average order value is $100 and you have 10,000 monthly visitors. In this case, a 3.05% conversion rate resulting from your 1 second page load times will lead to $35,000 in revenue.

On the other hand, if your pages take three seconds to load, the drop to a 1.12% conversion rate will result in $11,200 in revenue, a 68% decrease.

Negative brand sentiment

When someone visits your online store, your website performance plays a major role in their first impression of your business. If your pages take forever to load, many won’t think too highly of your shop.

Beyond creating a poor experience, it can leave shoppers wondering if a similar lack of quality is present in your products. After all, if you don’t make the effort to have a functional site, why would visitors expect your products to be any different?

What's more, visitors who have a bad experience on your site often won’t keep it to themselves. Data shows that 44% of consumers who have a poor shopping experience will share their opinions with family and friends.

These negative word-of-mouth warnings can spread quickly, leading to a lower overall perception of your brand.

Higher bounce rates

Slow sites nullify all the work you put into designing a something that funnels visitors from landing to purchase. If someone arrives on your site and your home, product, or category pages are slow to load, many will instantly leave before they even have a chance to evaluate your products or business.

This high bounce rate not only contributes to the lower conversion rates previously mentioned, but it can also be detrimental to your search engine performance as it signals to Google that your content isn’t relevant to your audience.

Poor SEO performance

Google wants users to have a great experience at the sites they find in the search results. Because page speed is such a big part of the user experience, fast load times are essential to giving users what they want.

As such, fast sites typically rank higher in search results, leading to more organic traffic for the ecommerce store. Conversely, slow pages create a poor user experience, typically resulting in lower rankings and less traffic.

Tips for improving WooCommerce page speed

Getting a website to load in under two seconds isn’t much of a challenge when you have a simple site. However, ecommerce sites are complex. They are full of content-rich pages consisting of many images — and often videos.

These assets come with large file sizes that take more time to load. This effect is pronounced on mobile devices where users have slower connections. There is also a lot of dynamic content and functionality needed to allow shoppers to add items to their carts and complete their purchases.

WooCommerce is built to load quickly, but because it’s a self-hosted platform, you are responsible for maintaining the site and keeping it in top-performing condition. Fortunately, with a good web host and a little know-how, this isn’t hard to achieve.

Here are some tips for how you can boost your WooCommerce site speed.

Test your site

The first recommendation is to test your page speed. You need to know how slow (or fast) your configuration is before you make improvements.

Additionally, website testing tools can provide you with valuable insights into the performance of different aspects of your sites. You can use these to see what is slowing your site down to quickly fix it.

For example, below are the results from a performance test using the GTmetrix tool.

Here, you can see an overall performance score for the site along with important page loading metrics such as first contentful paint, time to interactive, and fully loaded time.

Further down the report, GTMetrix includes a list of the site’s top performance issues:

Optimize images

If speed were the only concern when creating your site, you could significantly reduce your load times by removing all (or most) of your images. However, imagery is a necessary part of an ecommerce store as it helps customers to visualize and understand your products.

So while you can’t get rid of your images, there are ways to optimize them to reduce the amount of time they take to load.

The simplest and most effective way is to reduce your page sizes by compressing your images. Image compression will lower the number of bytes in an image to make the file smaller, speeding up page load.

A common method of compressing images is to use a WordPress image compressor plugin. These tools allow you to compress the existing images on your site. Plus, you can configure them to automatically compress future image uploads.

Image optimization plugins are effective but they can prove resource intensive. You can avoid this problem by using a web host that handles the process without the need for an extension.

Clean up your WordPress installation

Over time, your site will accumulate more and more data, which can hamper speed and lead to unnecessary loading tasks for your server. You can prevent this from happening by regularly cleaning up your WordPress installation.

Here are the areas of your WordPress database you should regularly tidy up:

Plugins and themes

Next, you should deactivate and delete any WordPress plugins that you no longer plan to use. When you’re deleting the plugins that are no longer active, perform a quick audit of your active plugins to see if there are any others that are no longer needed.

Look to see if you have multiple plugins performing the function. Also, check to see if there are any plugins that haven’t been updated in a while or are no longer supported by the developer.

After you clean up your plugins, you should do the same with your WordPress themes. Get rid of the themes that aren’t active.

Pages and posts

Go through your web pages and blog posts to see which are no longer needed. Over the course of your business, you may have gotten rid of certain products or there may be other pages that are no longer needed.

In addition to cleaning up your pages, also take a look at your post revisions. These can quickly add up if you make frequent changes to your content. Assuming you don’t intend to revert back to a previous version, it is safe to delete them.

Implement a PWA for mobile users

Progressive web applications (PWA) are an effective way to improve page speed for your mobile users. This technology enables you to create a web application that performs and feels like a mobile application.

The end result is a faster, better experience for mobile shoppers.

PWAs work by loading a static version of your site on your visitor’s browser, using the parts of your site that are consistent between pages. They are able to cache much more information than a regular page which helps to reduce the amount of time it takes for your website to load on the mobile user’s screen.

Closing thoughts on WooCommerce page speeed

You put a lot of work into developing your products and driving people to your site. Don’t see all of your effort go to waste due to slow page speed. Check out our post on boosting WooCommerce performance for even more comprehensive guidance on creating a fast store that your customers will love.

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