Over the past couple of years, the web has become faster. This is partially due to user expectation and the introduction of broadband Internet, and let’s face it, technology is improving by the day! Site speed is an especially important aspect when it comes to running your own e-commerce business. It is crucial in captivating your customers and keeping them coming back to your site again and again.

Unfortunately, research has proven that most e-commerce sites have actually become slower than they were a year ago. ( 8.56 seconds compared to 7.36 seconds a year ago).

Slow websites slow business

We live in fast-paced times and most customers, like you and I, can be very impatient and understandably have high expectations when trying to find a product online. You have a business to run and a family to spend time with - you can’t waste precious time on a website that is taking too long to load. This tells you that have not invested in your website, and perhaps I should not too.

But what does this mean for you as the owner of a website? It means less traffic, less converting, and finally, less revenue.

Each additional second that it takes for your website to load increases the site's bounce rate and, in the end, affects your store's bottom line. You have put in many hours developing your e-commerce website. You have planted the seed for it to succeed, and you have implemented ideas and innovation: do not let all of those valuable man-hours go to waste when the speed is not focused on.

Improper management of your store could mean the difference between success and failure. Focus and manage your site speed. This article will offer you guidance on optimizing your e-commerce store.

How do I determine my site's speed?

Various tools can be used to check a site’s speed. One of the most used and less-complicated tools is TestMyStoreSpeed. It is a 100% free tool and is used by many of the Shopify community to test their site speed. TestMyStoreSpeed looks at your product pages, collection pages, and cart page and gives you a clear view of your site’s speed. In addition to this, it will give you a recommendation section full of clear and concise ways in which to action problems in your store that may need to be addressed. It offers a helping hand to guide you in finding those apps that you thought you had deleted but are still there. Result? Wasted bandwidth is given back to your store!

Test my Store Speed homepage

Remember that it is a statistical fact that 80% of inpatient and high expectation customers will go out of their way to tell at least 44% of their friends and colleagues about their bad experience. Another interesting and concerning fact is that 57% of visitors will leave your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Various studies that have dealt with customer expectations of website performance and speed have shown that 79% of customers are less likely to return to your store if they are unhappy with its site speed.

If that is not scary enough, it has also been shown that 64% of smartphone users expect a site to load in under four seconds while 47% of desktop shoppers expect your page to load in under 2 seconds! It is also important to note that in addition to your customers recognizing your store's slow speed, so do search engines, paid as well as organic. A slow website lower your Google Adrds Quality Score which ultimately means a higher cost-per-click out of pocket for you.

How to increase your site speed

Firstly, you need to review the impact that your page speed is having on your bottom line. You then need to determine the speed of your site and take the appropriate steps to move forward and optimize your site.

Page speed and boosting conversions

Site speed is an important way to tell how your site is performing overall. There are services such as Google Page Speed Insights that look at various load times across your site and then use an aggregate to determine your score. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) can always be further altered: it is an ongoing process that needs constant management and maintenance.

Don't to use image sliders

Another important rule to remember is to not use sliders. Sliders add unnecessary images and are bad for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). They also load poorly on a mobile device because they push down your content. The bottom line is that sliders will slow down your site loading speed. It is more effective to use just one image since sliders take up available space that would rather be used for other important content.

Compress images

Compress the size of your website’s images. Images that are not sized correctly, or contain odd formats, can slow down your webpage. You need to optimize them so that they do not need to be resized in code. JPEG format is the best to use for fast loading.

Customers want to see images of the product that they are intending to buy, so make sure you include enough images that are well-sized, focused, and only relevant.

Use fast and responsive theme

Use a fast and responsive theme. It is important to remember that site speed can depend heavily on the theme that has been used. To ensure you have used a fast theme, run your theme preview page through Google Page Speed Insight. TestMyStoreSpeed is currently working on a new feature that will inform you whether a certain theme is fast or not.

Minimize and combine files to reduce server response time

An important note to make is that fewer elements on your page mean fewer HTTP requests and therefore, a faster loading page.

Likewise, if you are using a very slow DNS then this will increase the time that it takes for customers to find your site. It would be a wise idea to switch to a faster DNS provider to meet your customer satisfaction needs.

Have a look at this website for further insight:

Practical Commerce

The site speed bottom line

A solid product and effective marketing are the best ways in which to add a competitive edge to your Shopify store.

In saying this, it is also important to keep in mind that site speed can mean the difference between a conversion and a bounce which can make the world of difference to your site and customer satisfaction, thus setting your store aside from thousands of others that are competing in the word or e-commerce. It is great if you can attract your customers to your store, but the ultimate challenge is keeping there for their shopping experience.

If you add transactional emails, follow up emails, branding, and customer engagement, coupled with customer retention, customer experience, and repeat sales you have a store to be reckoned with.

“Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be."
– Zig Ziglar

This is a guest post by Andrew Durot. Andrew lives and breathes ecommerce, founding ecomexperts.io after his time at Airbnb. Andrew and his team specialize in Shopify store speed and site performance.