Ecommerce Site Speed—Why Ecommerce Success Relies on Site Performance, and What to Do About It

Fast loading pages are crucial for driving successful conversion rates—this blog explains why.

By Tom Wintaugh | May 19, 2023
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Because the digital marketplace is so competitive, success in ecommerce often hinges on subtle factors that can significantly impact customer experience. How subtle? How about the difference that a single second can make. For buyers from across the spectrum, ecommerce site speed is more than just a “nice-to-have” convenience—in fact, conversion rates, abandoned carts, and customer lifetime value are all directly impacted by how fast the shopping experience is. In this blog, we’ll help explore why optimizing your site's page loading speed should be a top priority, and is a critical factor in ecommerce success.

What Do Slow Loading Pages Cost My Business? 

Slow loading speeds can cost your business sales in many ways across the entire shopping experience. Here are 6 significant and direct negative impacts that poor site speed can result in for ecommerce stores:

1. Conversions: Anything that gets in the way of a fast path to conversion is costing you sales. Ecommerce site speed issues can leave customers waiting, slowing down their purchasing process and giving them more time to lose interest, change their minds, or turn to a competitor’s site. 

2. Abandoned Carts: Reducing cart abandonment is an important concern for all ecommerce sites. Slow loading pages can increase abandonment by a shocking 75%. 

3. Bounce Rates: Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing just one page. A high bounce rate can indicate that your site's loading speed is too slow, causing potential customers to leave out of frustration or distraction. 

4. Loss of Mobile Business: If an ecommerce site is not optimized for mobile devices, you are lowering the quality of the shopping experience for as many as 45% of retail ecommerce purchases. The primary way this manifests for shoppers is via slow mobile page loading speed. Read more about the importance of mobile here.

5. Customer Satisfaction: When customers perceive a website as slow, clunky, hard-to-use, and outdated, they naturally will be less inclined to shop there again, and less likely to tell others about your business and products. 

6. SERPs: Page speed is a critical factor in SEO ranking. Google's algorithms consider page loading time when ranking pages, meaning that faster ecommerce site speed can result in higher rankings on the SERPs, leading to more organic traffic. 

The Relationship Between Conversion Rate and Site Speed 

Ecommerce site speed and conversion rate are closely linked. Studies have shown that a one-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Over even a short period of time, that difference of a single second can be quite lucrative…or quite costly. If sales for a single day total $10,000, the difference of 7% over an entire year would mean an additional $255,000 lost (or gained) sales. That’s the power of a speedy ecommerce site. This kind of simple revenue analysis reveals how important it is to invest in platforms, tools, and techniques which improve page speed—and what an incredible bargain such investments are over the long term. 

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What Causes Slow Ecommerce Websites?

Several factors can contribute to slow ecommerce site speed. These include heavy images or videos, unoptimized coding, lack of caching, and inefficient server performance. Enhancing site speed necessitates a holistic view of the front and back end of ecommerce operations, including technical optimization and content management. We wrote more about the trend of streamlining ecommerce operations here. The good news is, all of these potential bottlenecks can be mitigated to boost your site's performance:

Image and Video File Sizes

Beautiful images and videos are amazing tools for highlighting products and promoting sales—if they don’t slow down page loading. Large file sizes can cost precious time for buyers, so it’s important to manage and reduce the size of visual content as much as possible. Compression tools can ensure faster loading times without compromising on visual quality. 

Code That’s Not Optimized

The way your website's code is written can also impact your ecommerce site speed. Unnecessary characters, excessive whitespace, and redundant comments can bloat your code, leading to slower load times. These small errors can be difficult to find and eradicate, but do play a significant role in page loading times, as well as Google’s ranking of those pages. 

Caching Issues

Caching is a powerful tool that can dramatically improve your ecommerce site speed if it is configured correctly. By caching product lists, navigation sets, and pre-calculated discounts, you lighten the load on your server and facilitate quicker page loading. Otherwise, customers will have to wait to load (and re-load) images every single time they visit a common page. 

Server and API Performance

The performance of your server and APIs also plays a crucial role in your ecommerce site speed. Poorly optimized servers can slow down your website, while APIs can delay page loading as they require the site to wait for API calls to complete. Optimizing your server's performance and utilizing asynchronous APIs can improve your site's responsiveness, leading to a more fluid user experience. 

Practical Tips for Improving Site Speed 

Improving ecommerce site speed may seem daunting, but there are several practical steps you can take: 

Audit Your Site: Improving ecommerce site speed starts with knowing where you stand. Use tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights to understand how your site is performing and identify areas for improvement. 

Optimize Images and Videos: Don’t neglect the size and loading speed of every piece of visual content you use on your website. Use compression tools and consider implementing lazy loading, which can improve media load speed for complex pages by only loading content when a user needs to access it. 

Leverage Caching: Use your ecommerce platform's caching features to store frequently accessed data and reduce server load. Cached elements like the product list and navigation set, plus Redis (in memory) full HTML caching can greatly improve site performance. 

Optimize Servers: There are many techniques for reducing bloat, redundancy, and inefficiency in server performance, however optimizing server response time may be a task for service providers or IT departments which assist merchants managing site resources. Excellent ecommerce platform servers are already configured for maximum speed on the merchant’s behalf. 

Ecommerce site speed is a critical factor in ecommerce success.  

From conversions to abandoned carts to SERPs, site speed impacts every aspect of ecommerce performance metrics. Perhaps the most important result of ecommerce site speed (for better or for worse) is the way your customers perceive the shopping experience. The immediate loss of conversions you might experience from poor page loading speeds will be overshadowed by the long term price of lost customer loyalty and bad word of mouth. By understanding what slows down your website, choosing the right ecommerce platform, and then implementing best practices, you can enhance your site's speed, improve user experience, and boost conversions. In the digital marketplace, every second counts. 

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About The Author

Katy Ellquist

Katy Ellquist, Miva’s Digital Marketing Strategist, is an accomplished writer, marketer, and social media analyst who has created sophisticated content campaigns for a broad range of professional clients. She brings to Miva a complex understanding of ecommerce trends and techniques, building upon extensive digital agency experience and a prior role as direct liaison to Miva’s top accounts. Katy is a regular contributor to the Miva blog, covering essential ecommerce topics like design & development strategy, site optimization, and omnichannel selling, with the goal of increasing the actionable knowledgebase of the entire Miva community.

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Author's Bio

Tom Wintaugh

Tom is a Content Marketing Specialist at Miva.

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