Why site speed is so important for online retailers?
By Joel Cummings
Managing the tension between site performance and helpful user experience is difficult. It’s easy to think that creating a great e-commerce site simply means adding new features to appeal to customers. But added features can slow your website’s speed. In this post, we share a few tips to help improve your site speed.
Site speed affects conversion
Site speed is extremely important for retailers. Website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time between 0-5 seconds. Every second of additional load time equates to lost sales and increasingly drives customers away. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve put together a few tips to help you improve your site speed by getting your tech in order.
Tip 1: Architect your tech stack
Managing the tension between site performance and helpful user experience is difficult. It’s easy to think that creating a great e-commerce site simply means adding new features to appeal to customers. Video tutorials, live chats, and customer reviews can all engage buyers. But those same features can slow your website’s speed, which is off-putting for those same users. Indeed, attempting to do too much to improve site speed can lead to detrimental effects but doing nothing will amount to a decreased flow of customers and an increased likelihood of tech debt.
To make your online retail experience more appealing, you need to take into account that humans generally lose attention after eight seconds, but we often lose patience much sooner. Whether customers are on a desktop or mobile, they have a million other things on their minds and expect your website to respond within seconds or less. Any longer than that, and they will lose patience and you will lose their attention and sales. They’ll bounce and visit the competition instead, where they can browse faster and check out quicker. Accumulating tools to serve your customers, without taking time to architect solutions, will increase your load time, decrease your conversions, and create tech debt that crushes growth.
The right technology investments pay dividends and allow your team to grow and scale without being held captive by technology. And if you need help creating a blueprint for your tech stack, we’re here.
Tip 2: Check your (web) vitals
Your site speed is an enormous factor in conversions. Website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time between seconds 0-5 and now sluggish response times can affect your search engine rankings, too. Google is rolling out an update that will penalize slow sites. They’ve come up with a way to determine if users get frustrated with your site’s experience, using core web vitals:
- Loading: This is measurable with Largest Contentful Paint, which records how long it takes for your main content to load.
- Interactivity: The amount of time between the user’s first interaction and the site’s response is called First Input Delay.
- Visual Stability: How often do consumers encounter inconvenient and unexpected layout shifts? That metric is the Cumulative Layout Shift.
Web pages on desktops on average take 10.3 seconds to load while they take approximately 27.3 seconds for mobile devices
Tip 3: Monitor both desktop and mobile
Turn off wifi and visit your site on your phone using an incognito browser. What is the first impression you are giving customers? Does the page build in a logical and progressive way, or does the page not make sense until everything is loaded?
People shop using both mobile and desktop platforms. According to Shopify Data Insights, “Mobile remains the preferred shopping channel this year for online commerce, with 69% of sales made on phones or tablets, while just 31% occurred on desktop.” This is especially important to consider as web pages on desktops on average take 10.3 seconds to load while they take approximately 27.3 seconds for mobile devices. This is 87.84% longer for the preferred device.
Site speed is so important for online retailers because it has to be up to your customers’ standards, especially as they switch back and forth between multiple devices. Even more critically, meeting Google’s standards so that the search engine will direct potential customers to you in the first place.
Tip 4: Compress your data
Data uses bits, or binary digits, to compile information and command an on-or-off function that when coded together can output various desired results. Reducing these bits will eliminate redundancy, save storage, and improve site speed. General compression algorithms for various file times:
- PNGs for complete illustrations
- JPEGs for photos
- SVG for simple illustrations
Tip 5: Use caching
When data is frequently required for download, it is beneficial to have access to a stored file rather than redownloading each time and taking up additional storage. Caching stores copies of files and data for servers, browsers, and applications to reduce latency and enhance performance. While most caching is available through various platforms, it may be beneficial to consider purchasing firewalls that block hackers from accessing this data.
Tip 6: Reduce page size
As you add various media components to your web page such as HTML, images, and scripts, your page size (or weight) increases. Lighten the load by following these five steps:
- Resize and compress images
- Use CSS Sprites to combine various images into one file
- Reduce or eliminate custom fonts
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) to ensure website accessibility regardless of location
Tip 7: Specify image dimensions
An image’s height and width are measured through pixel dimensions. Greater pixels per inch will increase the resolution, so specifying this in HTML can contribute to faster rendering. Many online tools can help add width and height to an image’s HTML and apply it to various pages.
Tip 8: Upgrade your host server
Many retailers begin with a shared hosting plan, but as your traffic increases, your business may need to upgrade. Various plans are available through reputable providers that will make your site respond quicker, secure your website from malicious content, and provide room for your business to grow.
If you’ve done everything else, improving/upgrading/hosting your own server might be a great option but it comes with other costs, like a headless rebuild.
Tip 9: Set goals and form processes
Improvement starts with goals and processes. Though most growing retail stores are more productive and profitable when they can focus attention on best business practices like ensuring that your website is up to customer expectations and industry site standards. By optimizing your site speed, you will gain various positive externalities like increasing customer site touch points and gaining higher conversion rates and greater brand loyalty today, tomorrow, and for all your days after.
It is your business to sell; it is Assemble’s business to help you do it more efficiently. Our engineering consultants will perform a technical audit on your site, set up new DevOps, and implement changes and testing in our three-to-nine-month intensive program. Contact us today to learn more about retaining website traffic and raising your Google rankings!
This article was written in collaboration with Kelsey Duffield.