While there are a number of factors that are involved with building brand recognition and achieving high conversion rates, great performance is universally regarded as one of the most important factors.
Virtually every study conducted on the subject cites decreasing tolerance of end-users for websites which don't perform well. There's simply no doubt that customers will not wait for a website to load, or for an app to function well.
Just as good performance has become required for optimal end-user experience, poor performance conveys to users a lack of sophistication and service capability.
Why Does Speed Matter So Much?
It's no longer enough to have a great product selection at your e-commerce store, or to make appealing offers to your site visitors. Online shoppers require much more than that now, including reliability of the site, a user-friendly experience, and good loading speed or responsiveness. More and more, speed is becoming the critical factor in obtaining customer loyalty and high conversion rates.
Most studies conducted on the subject have determined that users will generally abandon a website after 3 seconds of waiting for a page to load. That means no matter how good your products and services are, they aren't being properly viewed and assessed by customers if the pages of your website are not being served up quickly enough.
Here are the most important reasons why website speed is so critical for your e-commerce site:
When a website loads too slowly, it is known that most shoppers will simply abandon the site and move on to a competitor's website. Statistics point up the fact that users favor e-commerce websites which perform better and load pages faster, even if the site's products don't match up well to a competitor's.
Even worse, when shoppers do have an unpleasant experience at a particular website, they frequently share that information with others on social media. This provides negative feedback to a growing audience about your website, and will probably lose customers for you before they even visit your website. All this makes it essential that you satisfy your shoppers when they're on your website.
Higher Search Engine Rankings
Every business on the Internet hopes for higher search engine rankings, and e-commerce websites are no exception. There are of course many different factors which go into achieving a high ranking, but speed and good performance are definitely one of the most important factors.
It is known for instance that Google regards website speed highly and will even compare it to competitor sites. Google is known to rank faster loading websites higher than similar websites which load more slowly. This provides a boost in organic search results rankings for the fast loading website. Google recommends using the new updated PageSpeed report and tools like LightHouse to measure page speed and make improvements.
Increased Conversions And Sales
Much of marketing today involves figuring out ways to appeal to a target audience, and using tactics which increase customer desire for products and services. On an e-commerce website, however, all these marketing initiatives pretty much fall by the wayside if your website doesn't load quickly enough to satisfy the user.
One of the most frustrating aspects of e-commerce is shopping cart abandonment, which represents an annual total of more than $18 million per year. Statistics bear out the fact that at least 80% of all shopping cart abandonment is due to slow page loading. In effect, e-commerce websites are losing out on $3 billion worth of sales every year because pages are being served up fast enough. Sites which take longer than 3 seconds to load record 22% fewer conversions than sites which load in 1 second.
Tips To Speed Up Your eCommerce Website
E-Commerce website speed has improved significantly over the last five years or so, primarily due to increased availability of high-speed Internet service. However, there are still a huge number of e-commerce sites which have difficulty with performing up to snuff, and providing an optimal user experience. All the effort of designing a website to provide a user-friendly experience goes for naught if the pages of the website are not loaded fast enough to suit users.
Even a 1 or 2-second delay is generally enough to cost you customer loyalty. Because site speed is so significant, anything you can do to improve your site's performance is likely to increase your sales and conversion rates, and result in greater success.
Here are some of the best ways to improve your site speed:
Reduce Page Sizes
You can use the tool such as WebPageTest to check your page size. The screenshot above shows the example of a waterfall view of Magecloud.net. You can learn every single element of your page in details.
If your site is one which uses a rich display of graphics, you will have to weigh the value of those graphics against the potential loss of customers, due to slower loading. The bottom line is, you need to keep your page size and the loading time for every page on your website at 3 seconds or less, otherwise, you risk customer abandonment.
Use A Right Web Host
Your website host is a critical factor in obtaining website speed sufficient to satisfy your customers. You should especially be aware of the traffic requirements of your website if it has recently undergone growth.
While your website may have grown, it may still be situated on a smaller, less powerful server, or it might be on a shared server. This is something you have to be aware of and should consult with your website host about. You should ensure that your host provider sizes the server based on traffic growth, peak user load, and requirements for memory.
Establish thresholds for critical factors like peak traffic load, and set up email alerts so that you can be notified when these thresholds are exceeded. If you do begin receiving email alerts, you'll know that your server needs to be upgraded.
Another thing you should be aware of is the limitation of each web host. Above is the example of iPage’s TOS. You should never let your website outgrown the server resources without you noticing it. As such knowing the server limitation is important when choosing the right web hosting for your website.
The point of all this is to ensure that your hosting server has sufficient CPU speed, hard drive storage, and RAM, to satisfy the traffic requirements of your e-commerce site.
Specify Page Dimensions
If page dimensions are not specified, a browser is forced to load the entire image before doing anything else, and that takes up precious time. By identifying the height and width attributes for all your images, a browser will be able to understand the size of the image and can make room for it while doing other things simultaneously.
When you do specify height and width of your images, it allows the browser to create placeholders, so that it can load the images and the page together. It's also a good idea to automatically have image sizes altered depending on whether they're being loaded to a smartphone, a laptop, or a desktop machine.
Use A CDN
A content delivery network is essential for an e-commerce site which has international customers. A CDN is able to cache the content of your pages on servers located in various world locations, thereby significantly reducing load times.
This can be extremely important in situations where a Hong Kong customer, for instance, could load website pages from a server in China, as opposed to being forced to load from the main server in the U.S.
If you are using an e-Commerce store such as Magento here are a few CDN providers you can rely on:
Having a fast website is absolutely important to your e-Commerce business. As your store (and product offerings) grows larger, you'll need to optimize your site from time to time. I hope you found these tips helpful, and if you have any other recommendations, be sure to share with us at the comments section.
Author Bio: Jason is a marketer from Webrevenue.io. He manages and runs a few websites. He blogs about topics related to social media, SEO, eCommerce and others. You can connect with him via Twitter @JasonCPF