WooCommerce is the world’s most popular open source eCommerce platform. It works from within WordPress, as a free plugin that can be extended by means of custom extensions. Naturally, WooCommerce optimization is something of primary importance, but many webmasters and site owners tend to overlook it.
In this article, we will be discussing top ways of WooCommerce optimization and maintenance.
A Bit About WooCommerce
WooCommerce was created by two developers, Mike Jolley and James Koster. They were working on a fork (replication) of an existing ecommerce plugin called JigoShop. As a result, they created WooCommerce, which was released in 2011. WooCommerce and WooThemes were bought in 2015 by Automattic.
Now, Automattic is an active developer of WooCommerce and this particular plugin now has over 5 million active users.
This plugin is particularly popular among business owners. One of the main reasons is the fact that it is free and open source, which allows you to create an online store on WooCommerce without large financial investments. An important factor is the ease of management — no special skills are required to work with WooCommerce. If you know WordPress, you already know a good deal about WooCommerce!
WooCommerce is not a separate website builder. Rather, it is an open source WordPress plugin. This means that instead of subscribing to a solo hosting and checkout platform, WooCommerce works as a native integration within the broader WordPress schema.
Why Do People Choose WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a powerful and convenient tool for creating an online store. It seamlessly integrates into the WordPress environment, preserving all the advantages of the world’s most popular CMS. In WooCommerce, you can flexibly manage products, payment and delivery methods, and taxes. The extension also offers built-in marketing tools and an analytics system.
An important plus of WooCommerce is its extensibility. You can install additional addons to make the store more user friendly or collect more information about traffic sources and customer behavior. With other extensions, you can upload products to large trading platforms (eBay, Amazon, Yandex.Market, Baidu) to expand the audience of potential customers of your store.
Once you install and activate WooCommerce, basic pages for online commerce appear on the site by default: “Shop”, “Shopping Cart”, “Checkout”, “My Account”. You just need to set the parameters of the store, customize its appearance and fill the catalog with products.
Key Features of WooCommerce
- Shopping Cart — Set up the checkout process for your site visitors using processes that will help you turn visitors into customers.
- Payment gateways — With WooCommerce, you can accept cheques, cash on delivery, bank transfers, or use PayPal out of the box. For additional payment gateways, you can use custom extensions.
- Geolocation and Automatic Taxes — WooCommerce gives you the option to enable geolocation and automatic taxes. Then, your store will display the correct price, including taxes, for your customers based on their location.
- Customizable Checkout Process — You can fully control the checkout process from start to finish. You can sell to specific countries or worldwide, set URLs for the checkout process, enable or disable guest payment, and force secure payments.
- Default Currency — WooCommerce allows you to choose the currency you want to use for your store.
- Full Control of Goods — Whether you’re selling a single product, a single product with multiple options, or dozens, hundreds, or more, WooCommerce gives you complete control over each of them.
- Unlimited Number of Products — You can start with your first product and keep adding. WooCommerce gives you the ability to add as many products as you need. This is in stark contrast to the likes of Shopify and other hosted eCommerce solutions that often put a limit on the number of products that you can sell at a given time.
- Various Types of Products — With WooCommerce, you can sell electronic products, partner products, and create your own promotions. If your products are available with options, your customers can choose these options when ordering, which will save you valuable time. Size, color, price, stock levels, images, and more can be set for each available option.
- Inventory Control — At any time, you can see how much stock you have left of a particular product and how many outstanding orders are pending. All of this will help you optimize and simplify the management of your inventory.
- Setting up Delivery — With WooCommerce, you can not only sell your own or partner products, but also control delivery options. You can set international delivery, local delivery or local pickup as per your requirements.
Considering the fact that WooCommerce is a mammoth-sized plugin, it is only natural that special care needs to be taken to better optimize it. Here are some handy solutions:
Use WooCommerce Booster
WooCommerce Booster is a custom WooCommerce extension that helps you tweak and optimize WooCommerce for better and faster performance.
Booster offers a wide range of options, such as enhanced payment gateway integration, custom rules for checkout, better statistics and reporting, as well as sales reports, and more.
In addition to all of that, Booster gives you greater control over your WooCommerce store by giving you detailed insight and sales optimization techniques.
Optimize the Database
The biggest downside that many WooCommerce stores face is the fact that owing to multiple products, the WordPress database tends to become overloaded and often poorly optimized. This is why it is highly necessary that you optimize your database from time to time.
A good optimization plugin, such as WP Optimize, can do the job just fine. The intent here is to ensure that WooCommerce as well as WordPress data tables are fully optimized and clear from any overheads.
Unless you absolutely have to use comments, it is a good idea to disable them entirely on an eCommerce store. eCommerce stores are susceptible to comment spam, and since your primary focus is to sell stuff online, you may not be able to find time to moderate comments easily.
As such, disabling comments can save you from database overheads as well as repeated queries from spammy sources.
Use Third Party Solutions
Since WooCommerce itself is a big strain on server resources owing to its nature, you need to be extra careful not to invoke too many database-thrashing plugins at the same time. It is, therefore, a very good idea to outsource certain tasks to third party services.
For instance, instead of using WP to send email newsletters or transactional emails, consider using an email marketing service such as MailChimp or a custom SMTP solution.
Beyond that, for showing related posts (or products), avoid the standard WordPress “related content” plugins. Such plugins tend to repeatedly query the database for building their index and this can result in a slow and often unresponsive website. Instead, try to rely on the content optimization solutions such as Contextly for this task.
Similarly, rather than having Smush.it or a similar service fetch images from your server directly for optimization, consider optimizing your images before-hand and upload only the optimized files.
WooCommerce in itself is a very robust and reliable solution that does not break easily. That said, considering the fact that you often require multiple extensions in order to get the most out of WooCommerce, it is a wise idea to optimize things at regular intervals in order to ensure proper website health and performance.
If you are running a WooCommerce store, which website optimization solutions and strategies do you use and why? Have your say in the comments below!
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