Nov 09 2020

How to Establish a WooCommerce Maintenance Regimen

AnnexCore

Just like prevention is better than cure, website maintenance is better than repairs you need to take on after incurring a downtime. When we are talking about a WooCommerce website, a proactive maintenance regimen becomes all more important. However, it has been observed that many online store owners don’t pay much attention to their store’s backend once it goes online.

The e-commerce landscape is thriving with the competition. Every day, hundreds and thousands of online stores pop up on the scene. For any e-commerce entrepreneur who has just started out, it is crucial to keep their platform spruced up to stand out among the multitudes of other new online stores.  

Even if you have managed to make a mark and have acquired a good baseline of consumers with your e-commerce store, you still need to bring your A-game all the time. Customer loyalty is a rare element in online shopping (unless you boast a powerful brand). If your website is not working fine, you will experience rapid customer attrition, no matter how long you have been around.

In short, website maintenance is the lifeline of an e-commerce store. This post will discuss the significant elements of the WooCommerce maintenance regimen that will help all those store owners who are using this WP plugin to power their online businesses.

Why Is WooCommerce Maintenance Indispensable?

Before we jump into discussing elements of the WooCommerce maintenance routine, it is imperative to shed light on why it is essential in the first place. Without making it long and tedious, we will put down two main reasons that make WooCommerce maintenance indispensable. 

  • Downtime is the most deadly thing an e-commerce store can experience. An extended downtime doesn’t just incur sales losses in that particular period. Also, many customers that will stumble over your e-commerce store during the downtime will never come back. A holistic WooCommerce maintenance routine ensures minimal downtime and optimal uptime.
  • A website responding slowly, taking too much time for transactions, or showing errors on specific product pages is a recipe for bad customer experience. This might not result in quick customer attrition. However, you will gradually lose many customers due to bad UX without even noticing all that loss of potential sales. A well-thought-out WooCommerce maintenance routine ensures that your online store website works like a well-oiled machine.

Professional WooCommerce Hosting

The four crucial requirements of the WooCommerce maintenance regiment discussed in the subsequent section are only fulfilled when you work with a seasoned WooCommerce hosting service. From maintaining backups to incorporating timely updates and continuously monitoring your WooCommerce platform for its performance and security, a professional hosting service can better take care of all these elements than in-house teams. They are well trained and have extended experience in managing this WordPress e-commerce plugin.

4 Elements of a WooCommerce Maintenance Regimen

You need to work on these four fronts to maintain your e-commerce website that boasts a great UX with no loading lags, security issues, and payment processing hiccups. 

1) Backups

2) Updates

3) Monitoring 

4) Security

1) Backups

From cyberattacks to downed servers, a website can go temporarily offline for many reasons. For e-commerce store owners, going offline means losing business in real-time. E-commerce stores can minimize the chances of experiencing such blackouts by creating a robust backup strategy. A backup makes it certain that you can swiftly get your store online in the wake of any digital and cyber mishap. 

As an e-commerce store owner, you have two options to maintain a backup for your e-commerce website: Either hire WooCommerce developers and experts or bank on the WP plugins available in the market. Here we will give you quick direction on how you can take of your WooCommerce website backups on your own. 

First of all, you need to ensure that your backup strategy matches the scale of your website. This means you should be able to make backups that can get your website online with all its components. When you search for backup plugins for your WooCommerce website, you will find four types of plugins. 

  • Database backup plugins: These plugins will primarily back up all your data on the site (product details, prices, terms, and conditions.)
  • Website backup plugins: These plugins are more robust and let your backup your entire WooCommerce website with all its data, themes, plugins, and other WP components.
  • Scheduled backup plugins: As the name suggests, these plugins enable you to back up your site after certain intervals automatically. 
  • Holistic backup plugins: These are the most robust backup plugins. They let you use an entire list of backup features to leverage for keeping your online store safe from any unexpected shutdown.

How to Pick a Backup Plugin for Your WooCommerce Site?

Suppose you are confused and don’t know how to settle on one backup plugin for your online store. In this case, factor in the following features. If you find all these features in a plugin, use it.

  • It lets you create custom backup profiles (database, file-only, complete, etc.)
  • You can download a complete zip file of your entire WooCommerce-powered online stores after completing the backup. 
  • The plugin can run scheduled backups to provide you the peace of mind.
  • The plugin should automatically transport the backup to your chosen cloud storage locations (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.).
  • It should give you the option to restore your website to its previous version if something goes wrong.

2) Updates

Updates are now regularity for any webmaster owning a site powered by WordPress. However, these updates are still very tricky for people running their e-commerce stores via WooCommerce plugins. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of plugins and updates, it is important to look at different schools of thought regarding WooCommerce updates. 

There are essentially four types of store owners when it comes to WooCommerce website updates.

  • Store owners who just ignore all the updates and run their store like a static website straight out of the late 90s or early 2000s. 
  • Those who are too cautious about downloading any update because they earlier had a bad experience with it.
  • Owners who just go with updates without factoring in whether they need them or not. This group often experiences those bug-ridden updates, which then crash their stores and turn them into the type of store owners mentioned in the above bullet.
  • Store owners who are regular with backups, keep eyes on updates, choose the ones they require, first test them on a staging site, and then incorporate them in their live website. 

It is pretty clear that one should strive to be in the last group of store owners when it comes to WooCommerce updates. 

Let’s discuss how to approach WooCommerce updates. If you implement this practice, you can keep updating your WooCommerce store without facing any glitch.

Things to Consider When Updating WooCommerce Site

WP usually rolls out two types of updates: security and new features. Security updates are extensively tested, and they are crucial to your site. Therefore, incorporate them as soon as possible. However, if the updates are about new features and improved UX, one should exercise caution. Instead of acting like a cowboy coder, establish a procedure before incorporating those updates in your live WooCommerce Website permanently. 

Backup

As a responsible store owner establishing a robust WooCommerce maintenance regimen, make a backup of your website before experimenting with any update.

Make a Schedule

If you want to keep things streamlined, make a schedule to sit and examine all the pending WooCommerce updates. This schedule will make sure you don’t avoid the updates for too long and don’t spend all your time stressing over them either.

Staging Environment

This is a crucial step in updating your WooCommerce site. WordPress staging essentially involves testing the updates on a “staging” location instead of your website’s live location. In other words, you simulate your website on another location with the given updates. Whatever changes update makes to your website, it won’t affect the business-as-usual on your live website. 

A staging environment can rule out crashes that many WooCommerce websites face after directly incorporating a new feature update. You may need a WP and WooCommerce expert on board to execute staging for the given updates. If you have time and have experience using various plugins on your store website, you can also do WP staging on your own. You can find WP plugins that let you move your WooCommerce website from one domain to the other without needing you to get into the backend of things. 

Testing

Carrying out a staging and seeing if your website’s home page is running smoothly after the update is not enough. Remember that you are running an e-commerce website that boasts multiple sales and transactions at the same time. Therefore, you need to test all its crucial elements while testing the updated WooCommerce website on the staging location.

  • Add some products to the site to use them for various testing steps.
  • Search for these products to see if the website’s search engine is working fine.
  • Add and take out the products from the cart to examine the cart is working without any glitch.
  • Add those test products in your cart and cross-verify the shipping amount it shows on the website.
  • Order any of those testing products to see if your checkout and payment process is running smoothly.

Once you are satisfied with your website’s functional elements, revise your live website with the given update(s). Since a well-thought-out WooCommerce update routine involves an extensive set of things, it will be better if you schedule it in a way where you have a bunch of updates to test and incorporate.

3) Monitoring

Monitoring is another important element of the WooCommerce maintenance regimen. The idea of monitoring in WooCommerce maintenance is to find out any issue with the website before customers discover and notify you. A good monitoring routine includes these three features. 

Monitoring Downtime and Uptime

We can’t stress enough how important downtime and uptime are for any e-commerce store. You can’t sit in front of the screen and refresh your page all day long to keep tabs on the uptime and downtime. Again there are WP plugins that have made it easy for you to track your WooCommerce site’s downtime and uptime. These plugins also notify (usually via email) you immediately if there is a significant drop in the uptime. 

Monitoring Page Speed 

The page speed of your website is crucial for customer experience. It has been found out that even one second lag in page loading can slash the conversions of an e-commerce website by almost 7%. You can use page speed monitoring tools and plugins to know when you need to spruce up your website to improve its loading speed.

Malware Scanning

You can make this part of your monitoring routine or carry this out while managing your website’s security. Many times websites are infected with malware, and their owners don’t know about that. This unawareness poses a lot of risk to your entire business. By continuous malware scanning of the website, you can make sure you tackle all the invading malicious codes without wasting time.

4) Security

This is the last element of a holistic WooCommerce maintenance regimen and makes sure your online store and customers remain safe from the shenanigans of cybercriminals. The security measures for a WooCommerce website are not too many. Besides regular malware scanning discussed above, you need to improve password security at the logins. 

Use long-string passwords with a combination of characters, alphabets, and numbers to make it safe against brute-force attacks. You can also utilize WP’s two-factor authentication to secure your WooCommerce store against intrusions. Also, make sure that the payment options you provide are extensively secure. Also, secure your payment gateway with SSL certificates to ensure customers can use their confidential financial information without reservations.

If you can take care of these four elements the way we have discussed here, you will succeed in running your WooCommerce website without experiencing damaging downtimes. You will also continuously improve your website for its UX while protecting it against cyber threats. In the cutthroat e-commerce marketplace, a well-thought-out WooCommerce maintenance plan can make all the difference and let one online store outshines the others.

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