If you’re the owner or webmaster of an ecommerce website, you will undoubtedly have a lot on your plate. You need to think about SEO and how products are displayed on the site, perhaps with order fulfillment and marketing also falling within your remit. As such, it’s easy for some tasks to fall through the cracks. A time-starved entrepreneur might not spend long thinking about page load times for their site, yet this might be an expensive oversight…
Modern consumers expect instant service online. Purchase choices these days are so vast that sites which fail to deliver are seldom given a second chance. Data from a set of case studies carried out by Skilled found that 79% of customers who report dissatisfaction with site performance are less likely to buy from the same site again.
High page-load time is a common cause of that dissatisfaction. Almost half of website visitors expect a website to load in two seconds or less, while 64% of smartphone users want a page to load within four seconds. A one-second delay in page time has been found to cause an 11% fall in page views; customers don’t wait, they just abandon the page and look elsewhere. That one-second delay has the knock-on effect of reducing conversions by 7%.
More worryingly, lengthy page load times adversely impact on SEO, since page speed is an SEO ranking factor for both desktop and mobile sites. The slower pages are delivered to client web browsers, the harder you’ll have to work to rank well on Google. Worst of all, Skilled calculated that a one-second increase in average loading times could cost Amazon $1.6 billion in sales each year. Even though this figure must be considered alongside the company’s massive size, it should make any ecommerce site owner or manager think – mostly about how to improve their site’s performance…
On the right page
Before improving loading times, it’s important to evaluate the current situation. You can get a good idea of site speed by using Google Analytics. This serves up a detailed performance breakdown, identifying problems for which solutions can be investigated and implemented. While individual sites may have specific requirements, such as fast-loading videos for sites with dynamic audiovisual content, there are three main things most site administrators need to focus on:
1. Fast and reliable hosting.
Your site’s hosting infrastructure is vital. It must be able to cope efficiently with incoming traffic, regardless of volume. You also need to have enough memory and bandwidth to scale on-demand and cope with peak traffic times. This will ensure that you avoid costly crashes and downtime, as well as improving server response times across the site.
2. Optimizing site design.
When looking for speed, you want to try and reduce the size of individual web pages. That means limiting the number of elements like images, CSS and JS, especially on landing pages. Using memory and caching technology can help to prevent a database from having to be accessed every time a page loads.
3. Focusing on mobile performance.
It’s never been more important for the mobile user experience to match up to its desktop counterpart. Ecommerce firms today must take the time to optimize their mobile site, even if that means a complete redesign. Alternatively, it could be as simple as implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP pages are designed specifically to aid page load times on mobile devices, and on average, they display in less than half a second.