Unlocking speed: 9+ secret tips for a faster WooCommerce checkout

Speed up woocommerce checkout

Want to speed up your WooCommerce site's checkout process? In this detailed guide, I'll show you nine powerful techniques to make your website's checkout significantly faster.

The checkout stage is where customers decide whether to hand over their money or leave your site without buying anything. This makes it the most critical phase of the shopping process.

A slow checkout will cause your online business to lose sales. In fact, this study by Radware found that just a 2-second delay in checkout loading could increase cart abandonment by as much as 20% 😟

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to speed up your WooCommerce site's checkout process!

Central popup layout

In this article, we'll explore 8 high-impact changes you can make today to ensure your checkout process runs as smooth as butter, starting with installing the WooCommerce Fast Cart plugin.

Are you ready? Let's begin with a quick overview of what's slowing down your site's checkout process.

Why is your WooCommerce checkout slow?

Before we look at ways to speed up your WooCommerce website's checkout process, let's pinpoint what's causing slow checkout speeds in the first place.

Here are the top factors that can significantly slow down your WooCommerce checkout:

  1. Complex checkout flow.
  2. Unoptimized themes.
  3. Plugin issues.
  4. Large image and media files.
  5. Web host issues.
  6. Overloaded WooCommerce database.

Complex checkout flow

The default WooCommerce checkout flow can be confusing and complicated for customers. They must go through several pages to view their cart, enter their details, review the order, and pay. Each step includes fields to display and capture information, like names, addresses, and payment details necessary to fulfill the order.

While the default checkout approach is thorough, each field and step means more data needs to be processed and validated. Unnecessary fields and too many steps in the process can contribute to a slower overall checkout speed.

Not to mention, once customers decide to buy a product, most prefer to complete the ordering process as quickly as possible. Moving through separate pages to view their cart, enter their billing, shipping, and payment details, and review the order can seem more time-consuming than it actually is.

Reducing the number of steps in the checkout process can enhance the overall checkout speed and create a better shopping experience for your customers.

Unoptimized themes

Themes provide the visual and functional foundation of every WooCommerce store.

Unfortunately, if your theme is poorly coded or includes unnecessary features (like extensive design elements, complex animations, overly intricate layouts, etc.), it can dramatically increase page loading times during checkout.

Themes not explicitly designed for WooCommerce may lack the necessary built-in features to provide an excellent checkout process. For instance, they may load unnecessary Javascripts or styles on every page. This can result in additional HTTP requests and larger page sizes, bogging the checkout process.

Plugin issues

Plugins can significantly extend your WooCommerce site's features. However, each plugin you install adds extra code to your website.

Poorly coded or resource-intensive plugins with unnecessary scripts, CSS styles, or assets can increase page load times. (Common examples are plugins that load external fonts or scripts on the checkout page or those that make additional database queries). This can increase the server load and time required for the database to retrieve and process information, slowing down the checkout page.

Moreover, conflicts between different plugins can arise. For instance, if two plugins are trying to modify the same aspect of the checkout form, it can result in errors or delays.

A quick note: It's more about the quality of the plugins you install rather than their number. There's no limit to the number of plugins you can have on your eCommerce website, but how many are ideal? Research shows business websites have between 20 to 30 plugins on average. Large websites even have up to 100 and still function perfectly!

Large image and media files

Product images and videos are easily the heaviest elements of eCommerce stores. Each media file adds to the total page size. Whenever customers shop on your site, their browsers must download and render these files.

If your site has high-resolution media that isn't properly optimized for web use, it can significantly slow down your entire site, including the cart/checkout pages. This is particularly critical for customers with slower internet connections or mobile devices.

Web host issues

If your eCommerce site shares hosting with numerous other sites, it can result in slow response times during checkout. When multiple websites on a shared server experience high traffic simultaneously, the server's capacity can be strained, leading to delays in processing orders.

Inadequate server configurations, PHP errors, and hardware limitations can also impact the overall performance of your WooCommerce store. If your hosting provider allocates limited memory or processing power to your website, it may struggle to handle the simultaneous requests generated during the checkout process, resulting in a slower experience for customers.

Overloaded WooCommerce database

The WooCommerce database stores critical information, such as product details, customer data, and order history. If your site's database becomes overloaded with unnecessary or redundant data, it can significantly impact the speed of the checkout process.

A large number of inactive user accounts, outdated order information, or unnecessary logs can lead to increased database size and slower queries.

Moreover, an outdated database index can also contribute to slow checkout speeds. If your store has grown over the years without optimizing the database structure, certain queries might take longer to process, resulting in delays.

Measuring the speed of your WooCommerce site and checkout page

Before you make any changes to your site, you need a baseline understanding of its current performance and specific areas that need improvement. You can then compare the checkout speed improvements after you've implemented changes.

Popular speed test tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, Pingdom, etc., can help you conduct comprehensive speed tests.

Speed test tools show detailed performance metrics such as:

  • Time to first byte (TTFB)
  • Total page size
  • Number of requests, etc.

These metrics pinpoint specific performance issues that may be affecting the checkout speed. For instance, a high TTFB could indicate server-related problems, while a large page size may suggest unoptimized images or excessive content.

A word of caution: Each tool measures different aspects of page speed and provides diverse stats, so don't get hung on the differences between them. Pick just one tool (I recommend Google PageSpeed Insights for most people as it's Google's own tool) and stick with it for consistency.

How can I speed up my WooCommerce checkout?

First, we'll look at how to streamline the checkout process. Then, we'll look at ways to boost your overall site speed and core web vitals score, which also impacts your checkout speed.

Here are the key ways to speed up your WooCommerce checkout, organized in order of impact:

  1. Enable same-page checkout and direct checkout using WooCommerce Fast Cart.
  2. Switch to a superfast WooCommerce host like Kinsta.
  3. Use the fastest WooCommerce theme.
  4. Set up caching for your website.
  5. Clean up your WooCommerce site's database.
  6. Compress and optimize product images.
  7. Strengthen your site's security.
  8. Update WordPress, WooCommerce, and all plugins to their latest versions.
  9. Conduct a user experience audit.

Let's look at each in detail.

Tip 1: Enable same-page checkout and direct checkout using WooCommerce Fast Cart

With the default WooCommerce checkout process, customers must go through at least three separate pages every time they want to place a single order:

  1. Page 1 (Product/shop page): Here, the customer adds the product to their shopping basket.
  2. Page 2 (Cart page): The customer opens up the cart page. Here, they can review items in their cart, enter a coupon code, and click on the "Proceed to checkout" button to begin the checkout process.
  3. Page 3 (Checkout page): Here, they provide their order-processing information, such as name, billing address, and shipping address. They also enter their credit card info, PayPal details, or any other selected method and place their order.

The default WooCommerce checkout process is designed to be thorough to collect the necessary information needed to fulfill the order. However, there are many unnecessary steps, and most customers find it time-consuming and overwhelming. This is a leading cause of high cart abandonment rates. Yikes! 😫

So how can you fix this problem in your online store?

The solution is to use the WooCommerce Fast Cart plugin to streamline the checkout process and collect all the essential order details.

WooCommerce Fast Cart sales page screenshot

WooCommerce Fast Cart creates an easy, user-friendly popup or sidebar cart/checkout that lets customers place their order from any page on your online store. It transforms the checkout process and reduces the number of pages from three (at minimum) to just one.

WooCommerce Fast Cart - Choose the position and styling of the floating cart icon

WooCommerce Fast Cart is lightweight and well-coded. It loads after all other content on the page has loaded, so it won't slow down your site and cause higher page load times. Plus, it's fully compatible with the best WooCommerce site speed optimization plugins like WP Rocket and Autoptimize. Here's an overview of how the plugin works:

On page 1 (Product page/Shop page/literally any other page)

  1. Customers add an item to their cart. WooCommerce Fast Cart opens up a popup or floating cart and checkout, or it immediately opens the checkout window (depending on your settings).
    Right-hand side popup images
  2. The customer can apply coupon codes and enter their billing details in the pop-up checkout page:
  3. Here, they enter their shipping and payment details, review the order, and complete the checkout process — all without leaving the page.
    WooCommerce Fast Cart - Works with the usual WooCommerce payment options

WooCommerce Fast Cart's key features

  1. Instant access to the cart and checkout page from any page on your site: The popup/floating checkout is always accessible on the page a customer is on. Because it does not open a new page every time a customer wants to check out, it eliminates the time that would have been wasted on loading extra pages.
  2. Direct, one page checkout: It reduces the steps in the checkout process. Customers don't have to navigate between the product, cart, and checkout pages to make their order. You can either show a popup cart which leads to the popup checkout, or skip the cart step completely. With direct checkout, customers can place orders from the page they're on without even needing to view the cart first.
  3. Extra features to boost speed: Fast Cart has the Google Address AutoComplete feature baked into it. This further speeds up the checkout process as returning customers won't have to re-enter their addresses when shopping on your site.
  4. Extra features to boost order average value: The cart and checkout page is prime real estate to sell additional products. WooCommerce Fast Cart lets you add upsells and cross-sells, which can significantly boost your store's revenue.
  5. It flawlessly integrates with your store's theme: The popup/floating cart automatically inherits your WooCommerce theme's default colors and appearance to give customers a consistent ordering experience. If you want the fast cart/checkout to look different, you can customize the colors as you see fit.

WooCommerce Fast Cart uses your store's default WooCommerce checkout settings, including payment gateways, account creation, guest checkout, etc. However, it brings them the pop-up cart/checkout so customers can checkout from wherever they are on your site.

The best part? It takes less than ten minutes to install and configure the plugin.

A few quick notes
  1. You can replace the default WooCommerce checkout pages with WooCommerce Fast Cart. Another approach is to use it alongside the default WooCommerce checkout process.
  2. Want more details about the plugin? Check out the demos and screenshots.
  3. WooCommerce Fast Cart has various plugin pricing plans for different business needs, fast and friendly customer support, together with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.

Tip 2: Upgrade your WooCommerce hosting

Even if you optimized your site from its backend, your web host provider influences the server's performance and impacts how quickly your site can process customer orders. That's why opting for a reliable and well-optimized hosting service is vital.

If you're using a web host known for issues with WordPress, it might be time to switch to a more robust solution like Kinsta.

Web hosting vs WordPress hosting

Kinsta uses the Google Cloud Platform to deliver fast and scalable hosting for WordPress and WooCommerce sites. They offer a dedicated and optimized environment specifically designed to handle WooCommerce's requirements. They also use containerization and automatic scaling to ensure that your store's resources adapt seamlessly to varying levels of traffic. This means that during peak times, like promotions or product launches, your WooCommerce store's performance remains optimal.

Tip 3: Use the fastest WooCommerce theme

Shoptimizer fastest WooCommerce theme

Your WordPress theme can make a huge difference to the speed of your checkout. A good theme provides a stylish design without weighing down your site. In contrast, a poorly coded and badly optimized theme can add seconds to your checkout's page load time.

We tested the 5 fastest WooCommerce themes and discovered that Shoptimizer is the fastest of them all. Hello Elementor by Elementor also scored very highly and won second place.

If you're using a non-optimized theme, then consider switching to one of our top picks.

Tip 4: Set up caching for your site

Web caching involves storing static versions of your WordPress site's pages and files instead of generating fresh pages whenever someone accesses your site. This frees up server resources and speeds up page load times.

You can it set up using a website caching plugin. If you host your site using providers like Kinsta, you won't require extra caching plugins as it's already integrated into their hosting platform. This reduces the time to serve cached WordPress HTML by more than 50 percent.

Tip 5: Clean up your WooCommerce site's database

Removing redundant or outdated data — like customer accounts that have been inactive for a long time, obsolete order details, or unnecessary logs — can free up space on your database and speed up your WooCommerce site's checkout.

This way, when a customer goes through the checkout process, your site can quickly access and retrieve the relevant information without sifting through unnecessary records. This leads to a faster checkout experience.

WooCommerce plugins like Advanced Database Cleaner can help identify and purge unnecessary data while retaining the critical information needed for your store to operate seamlessly. Alternatively, you can hire an expert WooCommerce developer to manage this for you.

Tip 6: Compress and optimize product images

Images play a critical role in presenting your products, but large or uncompressed image files take longer to load and can slow down the load time of your checkout pages. Here are the most critical image compression and optimization guidelines to follow:

  1. Adhere to image formatting and compression best practices: JPEG or WebP formats provide good image quality at smaller file sizes compared to other file formats. You can also employ efficient compression techniques to lower the file size without compromising visual quality.
  2. Use image Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to optimize image delivery: CDNs like Cloudflare or Amazon CloudFront distribute your images across multiple servers worldwide, allowing your site visitors to load images from a server geographically closer to them.
  3. Optimize images before you upload them: Use image editing software like Adobe Photoshop or online tools like TinyPNG to efficiently resize and compress images before you upload them.
  4. Implement lazy load: Lazy loading defers the loading of images and other site content until they are about to be displayed on the customer's screen. This means that images below the fold or not immediately visible during the checkout process won't load until the customer scrolls to that part of the page.

Combining these image optimization tips can significantly improve initial page load times during checkout.

Tip 7: Strengthen your site's security

Malicious activity and bot spamming can significantly degrade your WooCommerce website's performance by generating unnecessary traffic and consuming precious server resources. Fortunately, these security measures will help protect your site:

  1. CAPTCHAs: These are tests designed to confirm that visitors interacting with your site are human and help prevent automated bots from abusing your system.
  2. DNS (Domain Name System) firewalls: These can block known malicious IP addresses and prevent harmful requests from reaching your site. Configure your DNS settings to filter out malicious requests before they get to your server and strain your server resources.
  3. WordPress security plugins: Plugins like Wordfence and Sucuri Security offer firewall protection, malware scanning, and real-time threat detection features. They provide an additional layer of security to identify and thwart malicious activities, leading to a more stable and faster checkout experience for shoppers.

Tip 8: Update WordPress, WooCommerce, and all plugins to their latest versions

Always keep core WordPress, WooCommerce, and all your plugins up to date.

When you use outdated versions of WordPress, WooCommerce, or plugins, you might miss out on the latest performance enhancements, bug fixes, and optimizations designed to enhance overall speed.

Similarly, plugin updates often come with performance enhancements. Outdated plugins might have inefficiencies or bugs that could slow down various aspects of your WooCommerce store, including the checkout process. Regularly updating plugins ensures that your site loads as fast as possible.

Tip 9: Conduct a user experience audit

A user experience audit thoroughly examines the entire user journey during checkout, from landing on the page to completing the purchase. This can help you identify practical ways to boost the checkout speed.

Let's delve into critical areas that you can refine for a faster and smoother checkout experience.

  1. Reduce checkout steps: A lengthy and complex process can discourage customers and increase cart abandonment rates. Evaluate if there are unnecessary steps that can be combined or removed. (WooCommerce Fast Cart reduces the number of pages customers must navigate to checkout. Also, it has useful integrations like Google address autocomplete to help shoppers save time.)
  2. Minimize checkout fields: Too many or irrelevant fields take longer to complete. Remove fields that are unnecessary for completing the purchase. For example, you can eliminate shipping fields if you sell virtual products that don't require shipping.
  3. Ensure your cart and checkout are mobile-friendly: Confirm that your checkout pages are responsive across various devices and that the fields and buttons are well-optimized for smaller screens.
  4. Offer translation into multiple languages: If a reasonable chunk of your target customers speak different languages, offering a multilingual checkout allows them to navigate comfortably in their preferred language, reducing potential confusion and delays.
  5. Use clear symbols for buttons and instructions: Use contrasting colors on the "Proceed to Checkout" or "Place Order" buttons to make them prominent and help shoppers progress through the checkout without hesitation.

How to Speed up WooCommerce checkout with Fast Cart

WooCommerce Fast Cart - Quick plug & play setup

Step 1: Download and activate the plugin

The installation steps are like any other WooCommerce plugin:

  1. Buy the WooCommerce Fast Cart plugin.
  2. Save the plugin's zip files to your computer.
  3. Access your WordPress admin dashboard and navigate to Plugins Add New Upload Plugin.
  4. Click on 'Choose File' and select the WooCommerce Fast Cart zip file you just downloaded.
  5. Select Install Activate.
  6. Type in your license key into the plugin setup wizard (you will find this via the order confirmation email) and select 'check' to complete the activation process.
    Woocommerce fast cart setup wizard page 1

Step 2: Add the fast cart to your site

The setup wizard will launch automatically and guide you through the steps to configure the plugin. You can also find them at WooCommerce Settings Fast Cart. Here are the key settings:

  1. There are two layouts to choose from. You can display the fast cart and checkout on the right side or in a popup in the middle of the screen.
    Woocommerce fast cart wizard page 2
  2. Enable 'Auto open' to automatically open up the fast cart when a customer adds an item to their shopping cart.
  3. Select whether to show the floating cart icon on the top center or bottom of the page. Another approach is to hide it completely.
  4. Next, choose the stages of the ordering process to show in the fast cart: cart, checkout, or both. For this tutorial, I selected 'both'.
    Woocommerce fast cart wizard page 3
  5. Now, select the elements to include in the popup cart: product images, prices, subtotals, cross-sells, etc.
    Woocommerce fast cart wizard page 4
  6. Then, choose whether or not to replace the default WooCommerce cart and checkout pages with the fast cart. If you don't want to replace them, skip this step by selecting 'Next'.
    Woocommerce fast cart wizard page 5
  7. Finally, you can add additional Barn2 plugins to boost your sales and revenue further.
  8. Click 'Finish setup' to complete the setup wizard.

Note: The final optional step is to head to WooCommerce Settings Fast Cart. Then, scroll to the 'Design' section to update the cart icon color, background, button text colors, etc.

Ready to speed up your WooCommerce site's checkout?

As a store owner, you know that the checkout page is arguably the most critical step in the customer journey. So if you want to improve your site's conversion rates, speeding up your checkout process should be the first task on your to-do list.

This guide covers 8 powerful ways to speed up your WooCommerce website's checkout process. However, the most significant improvement is upgrading the default checkout using WooCommerce Fast Cart.

WooCommerce Fast Cart is a lightweight yet powerful plugin that streamlines the checkout process by adding a user-friendly popup or sidebar cart/checkout to any page on your site. It allows shoppers to checkout from any page on your site and eliminates the time that would have been wasted loading additional web pages. Also, it comes with extra features like Google Address AutoComplete, which saves customers from entering their addresses every time they shop on your site.

Get WooCommerce Fast Cart and speed up your site's checkout process today!

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