Speed Up Your eCommerce Store: WPO tricks for Prestashop

Not long ago, I read in ecommerce-news that “almost half of users would leave a purchase if the online store loads slowly”. We have all experienced this: losing our patience and leaving the home page, the product sheet, the purchase process…
We pay almost €60 every month for a broadband connection. Why wait? Lost seconds equal lost sales, and the page load is also important for SEO. Google will treat you better if your online store pages load quickly.
Need more data?

Visit this HubSpot page:

  • 40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load.
  • Bing– A page that was 2 seconds slower resulted in a 4.3% drop in revenue/user.
  • Google– A 400 millisecond delay caused a 0.59% drop in searches/user.
  • Netflix – Adopting a single optimization, gzip compression, resulted in a 13-25% speedup and cut their outbound network traffic by 50%.

There you have it: take care about the load time. Being slow equals losing money. In Prestahop, there are 3 key points: hosting, back-office optimization, and front-office optimization.

HOSTING

Having a good hosting service is crucial. A shared hosting is like a shared condo where you can come across all the other owners the same weekend.
What does this mean? You are sharing the connection. You can have 300 server neighbors (take a look at http://www.majesticseo.com/reports/neighbourhood-checker and http://www.my-ip-neighbors.com/), so imagine that it’s 18h on a Tuesday, your time of highest weekly traffic, and 5 of your 300 neighbors are sending emails to 10,000 people.
This graphic shows what happens:

traffic_jam_in_ecommerce
Imagine that people are trying to buy in your store. Not pretty, is it?
So there you have it. A dedicated server or VPS. Is it more expensive? Yes. Will you have these problems? No.

BACKOFFICE

The key point (for Prestashop 1.5) is found in Advanced parameters > Performance.
The settings which you must enter are the following:

compile

If you are in the production (not pre-production) stage, you should never re-compile (that is, you don’t need to reload the tpl, css, js files, etc. every time you enter a new page into your eCommerce store), but can use the Prestashop cache to speed up the page load.
Use the Combine Compress Cache
This minimizes the space taken up by your code. If enters all the CSS code in a file with no spaces, and does the same thing for the JS and HTML code, and so on.

ccc

Activating the CCC will enable you to “unblock” the external servers:
These external servers (paying servers, e.g. AmazonWS) will enable you to load, for example, the images, CSS and Javascript code from outside, from another server, speeding up the load time of your page as it has fewer elements to be loaded from the main domain.

cdn

Finally, activate the server caching. To do so, the Memcached, Xcache, etc. extensions should be installed in your server. Otherwise, you will be unable to use this cache system.

xcache

By activating all these options, you will be able to speed up the page performance A LOT. Here’s an example, which does not use external servers, of a client who has Prestashop 1.5.5 with:

  • De-activated re-compilation
  • Activated caching
  • Activated CCC
  • Activated Xcache
  • Dedicated server
  • speedtest

The home page weighs 6.5MB, yes, but take a look at how long it takes to load from a connection located in Amsterdam (the Netherlands). 1.64 seconds! Here we have used the tool http://tools.pingdom.com
Notice also the data from Google Webmaster Tools.

speed

The page takes milliseconds to download. In October, we moved to a dedicated server and optimized Prestashop performance. We reached a peak of less than 272 milliseconds in page download.

FRONTOFFICE

You can also do some work here. Take a look at the Google Page Speed Test insights and follow its guidelines: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights
You will usually have to optimize the images so that they weigh less.
No time? You can always create a batch process in Fireworks, Photoshop, or use this Prestashop module: http://onepagecheckoutps.com/

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