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LiquidWeb – the best managed host for a fast WooCommerce store?

LiquidWeb hosting review

In this web hosting review, we’ll test out WooCommerce hosting delivered by Nexcess, LiquidWeb’s Digital Commerce Cloud Platform. We’ll be using their Starter plan on a WooCommerce-powered store to gauge website performance.

Liquid Web is a web hosting provider that offers managed hosting services to growing businesses. It offers dedicated, cloud, and VPS hosting. The hosting provider also offers solutions for CMS and eCommerce sites as well as enterprise hosting. Liquid Web’s managed WooCommerce plans delivered by Nexcess give you the option to pre-install WordPress and WooCommerce.

The plan we’re testing offers:

  • 30 GB storage space
  • 3 TB bandwidth
  • Suitable for a maximum of 500 orders per hour

In this review, we’ll start off with a brief overview of the WooCommerce hosting service delivered by Nexcess and how it’s different from other hosting providers. Then, we’ll jump into the performance breakdown and analysis.


How Liquid Web Is Different

Liquid Web is a web hosting provider that offers fully managed cloud and web hosting. In the context of eCommerce, Liquid Web offers scalable managed WooCommerce hosting through their Digital Commerce Cloud Platform, Nexcess.

If you choose to host your online store on any of Nexcess’ managed WooCommerce hosting plans, you’ll have the option to pre-install WordPress and WooCommerce on your domain. This way, you can simply install a WooCommerce-optimized theme (like Shoptimizer), add products to your store, and start selling right away.

Liquid Web’s managed WooCommerce hosting plans are delivered by Nexcess, the company’s Digital Commerce Cloud Platform. The web hosting provider has 10 global data centers and hosts over 500,000 websites.

Here are some of the main features that make Nexcess’ WooCommerce hosting solution unique:

Solutions for physical product stores and digital stores

As an online store owner, you want to go with a hosting provider that can cater to all types of stores.

Nexcess’ managed WooCommerce hosting solution is perfect for both physical product stores and digital stores. If you sell physical, shippable products then Liquid Web can help you connect your store with services like ShipBob, ShipStation, and TradeGecko. And, it also makes it easy to sell digital products like membership programs, subscriptions, or online courses.

eCommerce features

Nexcess’ managed WooCommerce hosting plans offer a variety of eCommerce features that can help you design a visually appealing online store and increase sales.

The hosting plans come with abandoned cart plugins and page builder plugins that help you get started with a step in the right direction. Liquid Web has partnered with Recapture to implement abandoned cart functionality. This way, you can take immediate action and capture lost revenue.

Liquid Web has also built a unique set of tables to store order data in a way that reduces query loads by 95%. This lets you increase your capacity by over 75%.

Nexcess

As mentioned earlier, Nexcess is Liquid Web’s Digital Commerce Cloud Platform. It runs managed WordPress and managed WooCommerce plans in a secure and scalable way. It packs a variety of themes, plugins, and tools to help you create a performance-optimized online store.

Managed WooCommerce hosting plans come with the Beaver Builder page builder and IconicWP plugins. In addition to this, you can rest assured that your online store will be mobile-optimized.

Nexcess also lets you set up product information however you’d like using custom fields, create product catalogs, set up staff accounts, and make sure your images look great and are performance-optimized.

Offsite backups

Creating an offsite backup means storing data in a server that’s in a different location than the primary server. Liquid Web offers offsite backups with Acronis Cyber Backups. Acronis providers encrypted cloud backups with several different methods to back up your data.

Next, let’s take a look at how quickly our WooCommerce store’s pages load when hosted on Nexcess servers.


Performance

As we mentioned earlier, we’re using WooCommerce hosting delivered by Nexcess, LiquidWeb’s Digital Commerce Cloud Platform. We signed up for the Starter plan that costs $12.67 per month billed annually. It offers 30 GB storage space, 3 TB bandwidth, and is suitable for a maximum of 500 orders per hour.

Here’s a quick overview of the testing environment we set up to measure performance:

Instead of testing a vanilla WooCommerce installation with zero products, sales pages, or on-page widgets, we decided to go for a more realistic testing environment. The main idea behind testing a realistic online store is to get a better idea of how a typical WooCommerce store would perform on Nexcess’ managed WooCommerce hosting. Setting up a realistic testing environment involved adding products to our WooCommerce store complete with high-quality images.

For our hosting review, we’ve set up a WordPress site with the WooCommerce plugin installed on it. Nexcess’ managed WooCommerce plans give you the option to do this when you’re creating your website.

We also installed the WooCommerce-optimized Shoptimizer theme on it with demo content. Our online store has a total of 10 WooCommerce products each with high-quality product images, descriptions, and prices. We’ve also followed Shoptimizer’s Install Guide and applied the Speed Tips to our online store.

It’s worth mentioning that we haven’t installed any third-party caching plugins on the website which is running WordPress version 5.6.2.

We’ll test page speeds on the homepage, shop page, and single product page using Google PageSpeed Insights and WebPageTest.

Homepage

Shoptimizer homepage
Shoptimizer homepage

We’ll start our performance testing with the eCommerce store’s homepage.

When people visit your online store, they’re likely to go through the homepage to navigate to other pages. In some cases, you might want customers to land on the homepage before visiting the shop page. The Shoptimizer homepage has banners, a hero image, CTA buttons, the latest products, testimonials, popular products, and more.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Google PageSpeed Insights test of the homepage
Google PageSpeed Insights test of the homepage
Test # 1 2 3 4 5
Performance Score 94 93 95 94 91
FCP 1.8s 1.8s 1.8s 1.8s 1.9s
Speed Index 3.4s 3.1s 3.3s 3.0s 3.7s
LCP 2.2s 2.6s 2.2s 2.4s 2.4s
TTI 3.9s 3.9s 3.8s 3.9s 4.5s
TBT 250ms 230ms 180ms 190ms 240ms
CLS 0.001 0.001 0.001 0.001 0.001

On Google PageSpeed Insights, we got a performance score ranging from 91 to 95. The speed index came out to be between 3.0s and 3.7s and CLS was 0.001 consistently throughout our testing. The largest contentful paint ranged from 2.2s to 2.6s.

For those unfamiliar, Google PageSpeed Insights’ performance score is a weighted average of the metric scores.

WebPageTest

WebPageTest of the homepage
WebPageTest of the homepage

On WebPageTest, we set the Test Location to Dulles,VA USA and tested using the Chrome browser.

The document completed loading in 1.562 seconds and the homepage was fully loaded in 2.936 seconds.

Here’s a link to the Waterfall View of the homepage test.

Shop Page

Shoptimizer shop page
Shoptimizer shop page

The second performance test we’ll run is on the shop page. In our testing environment, Shoptimizer’s shop page lists 10 products. It also has widgets in the sidebars including a search box, recent posts, archives, categories, price slider filter, top-rated products, and more.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Google PageSpeed Insights test of the shop page
Google PageSpeed Insights test of the shop page
Test # 1 2 3 4 5
Performance Score 98 98 98 90 98
FCP 1.6s 1.4s 1.5s 1.5s 1.6s
Speed Index 2.9s 2.4s 2.4s 2.8s 2.5s
LCP 1.8s 2.1s 2.1s 3.4s 2.2s
TTI 3.0s 2.8s 2.5s 2.5s 2.8s
TBT 20ms 30ms 40ms 40ms 60ms
CLS 0.009 0.007 0.009 0.009 0.009

On Google PageSpeed Insights, the performance score was consistently 98 with one instance of 90. The speed index ranged between 2.4s to 2.9s and CLS was consistently 0.009 with one instance of 0.007. The largest contentful paint ranged from 1.8s to 3.4s.

For those unfamiliar, Google PageSpeed Insights’ performance score is a weighted average of the metric scores.

WebPageTest

WebPageTest of the shop page
WebPageTest of the shop page

Same as before, we set the Test Location to Dulles,VA USA and tested using the Chrome browser.

The document completed loading in 1.118 seconds and the homepage was fully loaded in 2.297 seconds.

Here’s a link to the Waterfall View of the shop page test.

Single Product Page

Shoptimizer single product page
Shoptimizer single product page

Finally, the third performance test we’re running is on the single product page. Shoptimizer’s single product page contains a product image, details, price, purchasing options, additional images in the description, related products, and more.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Google PageSpeed Insights test of the single product page
Google PageSpeed Insights test of the single product page
Test # 1 2 3 4 5
Performance Score 75 75 75 76 79
FCP 1.8s 1.8s 1.8s 1.8s 1.7s
Speed Index 4.4s 3.9s 4.2s 3.9s 3.4s
LCP 4.8s 4.7s 4.9s 4.9s 4.7s
TTI 4.5s 4.6s 4.4s 4.5s 4.3s
TBT 180ms 270ms 230ms 210ms 130ms
CLS 0.001 0.001 0 0.001 0.001

On Google PageSpeed Insights, the performance score came out to be between 75 and 79 throughout our tests. The speed index of the single product page was between 3.4s to 4.4s and CLS was consistently 0.001 with one instance of 0. The largest contentful paint score ranged from 4.7s to 4.9s.

Google PageSpeed Insights’ performance score is a weighted average of the metric scores.

WebPageTest

WebPageTest of the single product page
WebPageTest of the single product page

Same as before, we set the Test Location to Dulles,VA USA and tested using the Chrome browser.

The document completed loading in 1.540 seconds and the homepage was fully loaded in 2.762 seconds.

Here’s a link to the Waterfall View of the single product page test.


Graphs

We also ran tests on GTMetrix with the test server location set to Vancouver, Canada.

Let’s take a look at the performance measurement graphs for each page we tested:

Homepage

GTMetrix performance metrics graphs of the homepage
GTMetrix performance metrics graphs of the homepage

The cumulative layout shift ranged from 0.04 to 0.06. Metrics, like time to interactive, first contentful paint, and largest contentful paint for the most part were low throughout our testing.

The fully loaded time ranged from 2.0 seconds to 5.0 seconds which is a lot of variance.

Shop page

GTMetrix performance metrics graphs of the shop page
GTMetrix performance metrics graphs of the shop page

The cumulative layout shift on the shop page was a perfect 0. Similarly, time to interactive, first contentful paint, and largest contentful paint remain consistently low throughout the testing.

The fully loaded time varies in our testing ranging from 1.8 seconds to 2.1 seconds.

Single product page

GTMetrix performance metrics graphs of the single product page
GTMetrix performance metrics graphs of the single product page

On the single product page, the cumulative layout shift remains consistently at an impressive 0 in our tests. Time to interactive had significant variance whereas first contentful paint and largest contentful paint remained consistently low.

The fully loaded time varies in our testing ranging from 2.2 seconds to 4.1 seconds.


Plans and Pricing

Nexcess offers six managed WooCommerce pricing plans:

Here’s a quick breakdown of the different plans Nexcess offers for managed WooCommerce hosting:

  • Starter for $12.67 per month. 1 store, 30 GB storage, 3 TB bandwidth, 500 orders per hour, and 10 premium features.
  • Creator for $52.67 per month. 3 stores, 60 GB storage, 5 TB bandwidth, 1,000 orders per hour, and 14 premium features.
  • Merchant for $99.33 per month. 5 stores, 100 GB storage, 5 TB bandwidth, 2,500 orders per hour, and 14 premium features.
  • Standard for $199.33 per month. 10 stores, 300 GB storage, 5 TB bandwidth, 3,000 orders per hour, and 19 premium features.
  • Growth for $366 per month. 20 stores, 500 GB storage, 10 TB bandwidth, 5,000 orders per hour, and 21 premium features.
  • Enterprise for $667 per month. 30 stores, 800 GB storage, 10 TB bandwidth, 10,000 orders per hour, and 22 premium features.

Conclusion

Liquid Web is a highly performant managed WooCommerce hosting provider. When you sign up for any of the six pricing plans on offer by Nexcess, you get the option to pre-install WordPress and WooCommerce on your website.

In our testing, Liquid Web (affiliate link) delivered excellent performance for a standard WooCommerce store with ten products added to it. The results were consistent for the most part and all three pages loaded fast.

Get the performance-optimized Shoptimizer theme for WooCommerce today!

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on April 28, 2021 to reflect that WooCommerce hosting mentioned in this review is delivered by Nexcess, Liquid Web’s Digital Commerce Cloud Platform.

Computer scientist, B2B SaaS writer, and co-founder at BloggInc. In her spare time, you can find her playing GTA V, lounging at the farm, or trying to beat her husband at indoor badminton.

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