Website speed is a decisive factor for eCommerce success, and it’s easy to see why.
The appeal of online shopping for many people is the fact that you can skip time-consuming tasks such as driving to the store, trying to find items on the shelf, or waiting in the checkout line. This means that, at least in theory, eCommerce transactions can be carried out in mere seconds. And once customers became aware of this possibility, they came to expect it as well.
As a result, even a minor slowdown in website performance can lead to unfavorable results. For every few seconds of delay, you can expect to see:
- a 103% increase in bounce rate
- a 16% reduction in customer satisfaction
- a 79% reduction in the number of customers that make repeat purchases
- a 44% increase in the number of customers that post negative reviews
A fast website is, therefore, a necessity of doing business in eCommerce.
Fortunately, there are quite a few techniques for improving the speed of your eCommerce website. In the remainder of this post, we will go over the X7 most prominent ones. Keep reading, and find out how to make your eCommerce website lightning fast.
1. Use Dedicated Hosting
The quality of your hosting service can have a significant impact on website performance. If you’re sharing server space with other users, your website will run faster or slower depending on the total server load. Not only will your website run slower overall, but it will also perform inconsistently, which will further jeopardize your eCommerce operation.
To solve this issue you should always use dedicated hosting for eCommerce websites. This will ensure you have the server’s resources all to yourself. Additionally, be sure to purchase hosting from a reputable provider.
2. Use a Content Delivery Network
If you’re using your website to sell to a global audience, you want it to run equally well for users from different regions. Otherwise, your website will generate a different experience depending on where the customer lives geographically. A customer in the EU might shop just fine, but one in Peru could be experiencing major slowdowns.
To ensure your website provides the same kind of experience irrespective of the customer’s location, you need to utilize a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN is a system that distributes your website across multiple global servers, so that data gets sent to the customer from the nearest one to them. A CDN is indispensable for any eCommerce website with a global audience.
3. Design With Function In Mind
Speed is not just about having the right kind of hardware. The design and structure of your website are equally important for its performance. Ecommerce websites that are difficult to navigate and parse will make them clunky to use, which means users will have to spend more time to complete a purchase.
To make your website faster to use, you need to design with functionality in mind. Keep functionally-related website elements grouped together, and don’t let aesthetics get in the way of functionality.
4. Keep Your Code Clean
A website is made up of code, which makes it a kind of computer program. And programs can run faster or slower depending on how well they’re coded. One of the main reasons why some programs run slow is the so-called spaghetti code, i.e. code that is verbose, needlessly redundant, and generally poorly optimized. Conversely, a program with clean code will execute much faster and consume fewer server resources.
Writing clean code is the hallmark of quality web developers with plenty of experience. This makes hiring a professional developer a must for any serious eCommerce website. Don’t settle for third-rate developers just because they’re cheap. The difference between the two is night and day.
5. Use Fewer Extensions
Ecommerce websites rely on a variety of plugins, apps, and themes to implement all the features they need to function. However, if you end up installing too many of these external additions, your website will run slower as a result.
The obvious solution here is to use fewer plugins, but this is not always feasible. So what you can do instead is install extensions that combine the features of multiple other extensions. For instance, instead of running separate APIs to integrate different social networks into your website, you can use an app such as Dialogfeed to implement a unified social wall feature. This has the added benefit of ensuring compatibility between features when compared to using separate APIs for each task.
6. Compress Your Media Files
A successful eCommerce website uses images, videos, and other media resources to sell products. These resources will accrue over time as you add new products, and so will their total size. Additionally, using high-definition media such as 4k images and video will put further strain on your server due to their size, making your website load slower.
The best way to address this issue is through media compression. Before uploading images to your content management system of choice, you should pass them through a compression tool such as gzip to reduce their size. This same applies to video and video files. If you want to take things a step further and get an additional boost, try minifying your website code as well.
7. Offer Effective Customer Service
Website speed is not expressed just in terms of raw numbers, but also in terms of customer experience. So a website that is objectively slower can feel smoother and faster to use thanks to other design features. An example of such a feature is chatbot-based customer service.
Chatbots can serve a variety of functions on an eCommerce website. They can offer customers product recommendations, help them with product issues, or even place orders in their stead. From the customer’s perspective, interacting with a chatbot is much faster than writing an email or making a phone call to find assistance with a question or a problem.
Ecommerce is a highly-competitive industry, which forces companies to seek out every advantage they can in an effort to obtain a market share.
Having a website optimized for speed is one such advantage, and a powerful one at that. A fast website will convert visitors into customers with greater efficiency by providing a streamlined shopping experience. Optimize your website using the methods outlined above, and take your eCommerce operation to the next level.
Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.