WordPress is a great way to get your online store up and running quickly and cheaply – but in the wrong conditions, it can run pretty slowly.
If it takes anything longer than a second or two to display pages, customers will turn away.
So what to do? Here are some suggestions that can help to speed things up.
There’s not a lot you can do if your site is being served from an old laptop stashed in your IT guy’s cupboard at home (which, hopefully, it isn’t..)
Have a look at the hosting level you’re set up for – cheaper monthly fees will generally result in lower processing power and memory availability, which can be a false economy resulting in customers turning away because of slow page load times and lower Google rankings.
This can be set at the WordPress and server levels. Depending on the number of plugins you’ve got running, it should be between 96M and 128M – higher if you have the server capacity.
In your wp-config.php file
memory_limit = 128M
Change the ‘128M’ part if you wish, but it should really be at least 96M or you can run into problems with some plugins not working at all.
Go through those and deactivate / remove any that aren’t being used (or are out of date) The more features a plugin has, the more load it’s going to put on the server.
Caching plugins won’t speed up the admin area but will make the customer experience a lot faster.
Depending on your needs, experience and server resources, some choices are better than others. Here’s a good article that discusses the top three.
Smart Pack is the packing calculator we’ve all been waiting for.
It’s now officially released with version 2.2 of the Smart Send Australian Shipping plugin. Download it here.
Here’s a video that talks about it briefly:
Using Smart Pack
Smart Pack provides the simplest way of getting multiples of individual products in to larger packages, cutting down on the returned quote price at checkout, and when you fulfill the order.
Simply put, you specify in the plugin which packages you have a available, and then from the product edit page, designate how many of that product fit in to your various packages.
Adding and Editing Packages
The first thing you need to do is to tell the plugin which packages you have available to send stuff in. We’ve included the standard range of packaging available from your local Australia Post store, as well as the standard road satchels from Fastway and Couriers Please.
Existing packages are on the right, and can be edited or deleted.
To add a new package, use the form on the left of the page.
Adding a Package Type
To add a new custom package type, first use a name that will allow you to readily identify it.
Slug will be automatically generated if you don’t specify something.
Description will be filled with attributes you specify below. Smart Send Shipping Class will designate the broad category of the package – carton, tube, satchel etc
Finally, you need to specify the dimensions of the package, and its maximum weight – that is, the most it can carry. When calculating shipping, the actually weight used will be the combined weight of the items inside it.
Products and Packing Instructions
Now that we have our packages, we can tell Smart Pack what can fit in them. At checkout, the shipping calculator will see if you’ve laid down any packing instructions for the products in the cart and instead of asking for quotes on each one individually, will return a price based on several of them in the one box.
To set packing instructions, go to Products, select a product and then click the ‘Shipping’ tab:
To add a packing instruction, click the ‘Choose Package’ dropdown:
Smart Pack will have made a rough estimate of what it should be able to contain – but you should always ensure that the container will hold that number of the product. Should the dimensions or weight vary from that you specify, you may be liable for additional shipping charges.
Clicking on ‘Add’ will activate that packing instruction, and you can delete them by click the little ‘x’ within each instruction box.
If the package you have selected seems to be too small or has a capacity less than the weight of the items, a small warning will be shown. Once again, the is advisory – it’s up to you to make sure things fit.
Multiple Instructions will allow for the maximum number of scenarios; the algorithm will try to fit as many as possible in the smallest packages (to save on costs)
Variable Product Packing Instructions
In the same way that you can specify custom dimensions and weights for product variants, you can also set variant-specific packing instructions (if the variant dimensions differ from the ‘parent’ product)
Fixed Price Satchels Warning: Fastway and Couriers Please fixed-price road satchels do not deliver to every Australian address. If you have specified one of these for a product, and the shipping solution is a different carrier, you will be warned to use a different packaging solution to avoid non-delivery or return of shipment at your cost.
Fulfillment and Final Packing
When it comes time to head to the orders screen and fulfill shipping, you’ll be presented with packing instructions – if you’ve set no specific instructions for that product, it will just say ‘send as-is’ but if you did set up packing instructions, you’ll see a result conversant with what you specified; look at the image above and you’ll see that the 8 items in the order were packed efficiently in to the specified containers:
So that’s about it. Please feel free to ask if you have any further questions or need further clarification. We recommend that you watch the instructional video at the top of the page.
In order to fully enable both real-time shipping quotes and in-dashboard / automatic fulfillment, you must correctly enter several settings in the Smart Send Shipping options page. If you’re upgrading from the Smart Send 1.x version, the settings relating to real-time shipping quotes should already be correctly set.
New Options: Walk-through Video
There are, however, some new settings that relate to shipping ‘fulfillment’ – finalising shipping on an order.
For the plugin to work, you need to enter the VIP username and password provided to you. If you don’t have them yet, sign up for a VIP account here.
You can specify what shipping quotes your customers will see at checkout; fastest, cheapest or all of the quotes we return.
Because we calculate shipping in kilograms, we have to know if your products are entered as grams or kg.
We need to know who you are, where you are and who to talk to if needs be. If you aren’t a company, you don’t need to fill in ‘Company Name’
You can set the plugin to automatically trigger ‘fulfillment’ (ie finalise shipping) when an order is paid for.
Specify your preferred window for the courier to collect your packages.
When quoting, we specify a package type or shipping class for each product. You can set a standard one within the options screen, or you can specify them for each product individually.
See this page for how to specify the class within the product itself.
You have the option of adding a handling fee to shipping costs, on top of the quoted figures returned. This can applied as a flat rate for every order, or a percentage of the car total.
Insurance can be added to the shipping quotes, either always on, always off or left to the customer’s discretion. If you specify a ‘minimum’ then assurance will never be added to quotes at or below that amount.
Assurance is calculated on the wholesale cost of the items in the cart (if known) Instructions for entering this field (which has been added by Smart Send for this purpose) are here.
Tail-Lift – Pickup
For heavier items, you might require that the courier provide a ‘tail-lift’ truck when collecting the items.
If that’s the case, simply specify how heavy an item has to be before that will be requested.
The final two options are Recipient Notification and Tail-lift Delivery.
If Recipient Notification is checked, then when the item is booked for delivery, we will send the recipient an email with a status update and tracking number.
Check the Tail-lift Delivery box if you wish to make available the option for the customer to request a tail-lift delivery vehicle.