The eCommerce industry was built on the assumption that speed and convenience massively increase the likelihood of making a sale.
It didn’t take long for this assumption to become a well-established fact, and it’s easy to see why. Ecommerce has enabled customers to avoid tedious activities like driving to a physical location, arguing with pushy salespeople, or waiting at the checkout counter.
Compare this to purchasing an item from an eCommerce website. You land on the store page, add an item to your shopping cart, provide payment and delivery info, and you’re done.
With that being said, this kind of scenario only works if the website in question is optimized for speed. Even a few seconds of slowdown can have negative consequences such as:
- a 103% higher bounce rate
- a reduction of 16% in customer satisfaction
- a reduction of 79% in the number of repeat purchases
- an increase of 44% in the number of negative reviews
Needless to say, a sluggish ecommerce website is not likely to survive long in today’s competitive business climate.
So how can you ensure that your eCommerce website runs as fast and smoothly as possible? Only by making sure you took the 7 optimization steps we will outline in the remainder of this post.
1. Switch to Dedicated Hosting
Modern ecommerce websites are complex applications, and they require a fast server to perform well. If you’re sharing server space with other users, your website will run faster or slower depending on the total server load. Not only that, but these slowdowns can also occur completely at random, making them even more detrimental.
A good way to slow down a server is by sharing it with other users. This makes shared hosting plans inadequate for serious ecommerce websites. Solving this issue requires you to purchase dedicated server hosting. A dedicated server from a reputable hosting provider will ensure that all server resources are reserved for your website alone.
2. Utilize a Content Delivery Network
Ecommerce allows you to cross national boundaries and sell to a global audience, provided you can offer a satisfying customer experience to users across the globe. Failing to do this means that your website will run differently depending on where the user lives. And running differently usually means running slower.
As soon as this issue was identified, software scientists developed what is called content delivery networks or CDNs. A CDN is a system that effectively distributes the content of your website across different servers in the world, and the customer gets theirs from the one nearest to their location. This will ensure a certain baseline speed for your website irrespective of who is accessing it.
3. Employ Functional Design
Obtaining extra speed by purchasing server upgrades is well and fine, but there is a lot you can do on the design front as well. This is because speed is not just about fast loading times – it is also about maintaining a smooth and consistent user experience.
For instance, if a user has to spend a few seconds figuring out how to navigate from one page to another, or how to use the website search function, they will end up having a negative customer experience.
Functional eCommerce design is all about ironing out issues such as these by following certain design rules. These include grouping page elements with the same function, using intuitive layouts, and using aesthetics to highlight important elements on the page.
4. Clean Your Code
A website just another kind of application, which means it is built out of code. And if a website is poorly coded, it will have a significant impact on its speed.
The main culprit for code-related slowdowns is “spaghetti code”, i.e. code that unstructured, overly complicated, and difficult to maintain. Spaghetti code is usually the result of poorly communicated project requirements, disregard for programming styles and rules, and a lack of coding experience.
The only way to ensure your eCommerce website is built atop of quality code is by working with reputable software developers. You will either have to hire a professional developer to build your website from scratch or have them audit your existing code.
5. Install Fewer Extensions
Ecommerce websites can be broken down into elements that each serve a specific function, such as a shopping cart, a contact form, a navigation menu, and so on. These elements can be coded from scratch, but a much more efficient way to do it would be to use plugins and extensions that provide these features.
The downside to this is that you can end up with too many plugins running at the same time. Not only is this fertile ground for software bugs and conflicts, but the sheer number of plugins running in the background will slow your website down to a crawl.
You can address this issue and preserve your website speed in a number of ways. You can opt to use fewer plugins, use plugins that combine features of several others or use only professional plugins with a proven track record.
6. Keep Your Media Files Compressed
Media files play a large role in eCommerce website success. With the right combination images, animations, video, and other resources, an eCommerce website stands a much better chance at converting visitors into customers.
However, the price for these embellishments usually comes at a cost in website speed. As you expand your website over time, the number of media files will continue to grow, which will put more strain on your server. Similarly, the size of high-resolution media files can inflate quickly.
To keep your website media-rich while maintaining speed, you should use media compression tools. These will reduce their size with a small hit in visual and auditory fidelity.
7. Provide a Smooth Customer Experience
While raw numbers are important when it comes to eCommerce website speed, it is also vital to ensure that customers get to experience it. For instance, an eCommerce website can load lightning-fast, but a lack of customer-focused features will make it a chore to use.
One way to ensure a smooth customer experience is to improve the conversion process with chatbots. A customer service chatbot can help visitors with everything from providing product recommendations, placing reservations, asking questions, and more.
Interacting with a chatbot will make for a more streamlined customer experience than wandering around a site trying to figure things out on your own. It is also faster than making a call, reading a FAQ, or watching a video to figure out a solution to a problem.
Rapidly Towards Success
The eCommerce market is evolving at a rapid pace, and in order to keep up website owners have to keep their websites performing at peak efficiency. The faster your website runs, the better it will be at converting visitors but in terms of numbers, and in terms of time spent per conversion. To ensure your website is as fast as it can be, implement the methods we have outlined above – you won’t be disappointed.