Your ecommerce website’s loading and rendering speed affects everything from your store’s rankings in search engines to the user’s final checkout conversion. And with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing more shoppers online, analysts predict that this holiday shopping season will be unlike any we’ve ever seen. Is your website ready to meet your customer’s growing demands, or will poor website performance sabotage both your customer satisfaction and your bottom line? 

Fast and Furious: Why Your Online Store’s Performance and Speed Matters

How slow is too slow? Online marketing guru Neil Patel says that nearly 50% of online shoppers expect websites to load in just one to two seconds. 

And user conversion reports support that theory. In a holiday shopping analysis of more than 7 billion pageviews generated by 17 major online retailers, one study found that load times of under two seconds generated the highest conversion rates. 

Anything beyond this two-second benchmark can prove costly. Very, very costly. 

Take Amazon, for example. According to Fast Company, a single 1-second delay for the online retailer can cost the company more than a billion dollars in lost sales.

Thankfully, every little action you take can help improve your customer experience and bolster revenue. For every 100-millisecond improvement in website loading speed, Walmart’s online revenue increased by 1%. Similarly, office supply store Staples saw its conversions jump by 10% after it increased its load times by 1-6 seconds.

Boosting your website’s speed doesn’t just help conversions and sales. It’s a critical component of smart SEO. Every major search engine, including Google, uses site speed as a factor in search rankings. To shoot to the top of the search results, your store needs to lower its loading time. 

There are a few well-known factors that impact your ecommerce website’s loading time, as well as a few surprising factors that you or your web development team might not have considered. 

8 Problem Spots That Slow Down Your Website Performance and Loading Time

1. Your Server and Your Ecommerce Software

First and foremost, your hosting matters. This includes:

  • your host’s overall uptime
  • its average server response time
  • how your host handles peak user load
  • hosting limitations, like your plan’s bandwidth limits
  • what cloud-based infrastructure your host relies on
  • and more

The software on which your store operates can also impact loading time. 

For example, Shopify runs a custom server-side Ruby application (Shopify Storefront Renderer) aimed at improving speed, and Woocommerce offers various plugins and scripts to optimize performance. 

Likewise, if your ecommerce solution is built on top of a limited-capability CMS that wasn’t initially created for ecommerce purposes (e.g. Drupal, WordPress, etc.), that too may influence performance.

We won’t get into the specifics of different SaaS platforms, nor the pros and cons of each solution, but it is something all ecommerce retailers should be investigating.

2. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)

Google App Engine, CloudFlare, Amazon CloudFront and Swarmify are just a few examples of CDNs. 

A CDN has servers around the world aimed at reducing server latency by serving a user content from a server that is nearest him or her.

The shorter the distance between a server and your customer, the more improved your website’s load time.

3. Domain Name System (DNS) Lookups

Behind every URL is an IP address, and your customer’s browser needs to ping a DNS server for that info. 

Not only does visiting your store require a DNS lookup, but so does every single external piece of content on that specific page. For instance, if you’ve embedded a YouTube product tutorial on a specific product page, that’s an extra DNS lookup. Every additional DNS lookup adds to your load time. 

4. JavaScript Tracking Tags

Great tracking data is behind every smart marketing campaign and every successful brand. JavaScript tags are used to track behaviors, run ad retargeting, keep tabs on overall analytics, identify users based on behaviors or conversions, and more.

Loading each of these tags adds to your site’s slow speed.

More and more stores are turning to some form of tag management system, which needs to load just one JavaScript to fire all the right tags instead of requiring the customer’s browser to load multiple tags.

5. Software Versioning

Outdated CMS or ecommerce software, or even outdated plugins and tools, can impact your store’s performance. Plus, outdated software can leave your store more vulnerable to malware, hacks and other performance-impacting problems.

6. Redirects and Redirect Chains

Every time a page on your store redirects, you’re putting your user through yet another round of the HTTP request-response process. This is likely relevant for you if you have a lot of old pages in which you’ve done some mass redirects, or if you use redirects to better enable a mobile experience.

Here’s a common scenario:

  • A user visits yourstore.com on their smartphone
  • Your store redirects yourstore.com to www.yourstore.com
  • The user then gets redirected to m.yourstore.com

Every single one of those redirects slows down the overall user experience.

7. Image Sizes

All ecommerce stores rely heavily on product images in the storefront, security badges and trust-building icons on the checkout page, favicons in the browser, and much more. Each of these images add to the loading time of your store.

And it’s not just about how the images appear for the user. There may be a lot of rendering and file size factors in your image library and server backend. Such factors include the image resolution, the dimensions of the displayed graphic on both the front-end and back-end, and the actual file size.

8. Browser Caching 

Your customer’s browser cache can hold a lot of information that, once loaded, can improve the load time of your storefront in the future.

Commonly stored data that can help your site load faster include stylesheets, JavaScript files, etc. After a customer visits your store, subsequent visits should be faster if their browser can load that data locally.

Depending on your SaaS platform, you can notify the user’s browser of when (and how often) you want this cached information to be refreshed. 

Ready to Level-Up Your Website’s Speed and Performance?

As you can see, there are a lot of different factors involved in your store’s load time. And every second counts (literally!). At Ndevr, our team of highly experienced technologists can help you enhance your ecommerce store’s performance. Contact us today for a free consultation and learn how we can help to improve your customers’ experience and speed up your site for increasing revenue and growth this holiday season.