Robert Rand is the Director of Partnerships at JetRails, a mission-critical e-commerce hosting service. Robert has over a decade of experience in helping merchants benefit from sound e-commerce and digital marketing strategies, assisting organizations of all types and sizes to grow and succeed via digital commerce. Robert is a frequent author and thought contributor in the e-commerce industry, and hosts The JetRails Podcast.
It should come as no surprise that, in the digital information age, attention spans are far more limited than ever before.
At the same time, consumer expectations have continued to rise in regards to user-experience, from website navigation to shipping timelines. These market shifts have continued to favor e-commerce websites that load quickly for both mobile and desktop shoppers.
For those site owners who are not putting at least some emphasis on page speed and load times, you are basically leaving money on the table.
Loading Speed vs. Bounce Rates & Conversions
Back in 2016, Google first shared that “53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.” For anyone working to improve their eCommerce conversion rates, this should not come as a surprise.
Google was not the first to identify the correlation between speed and website KPIs, but their data was certainly widely shared and trusted in subsequent years.
Data pointed to the fact that “as page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 123%.”. In essence, Google proved that as webpage loading speeds varied, so did bounce rates.
If the time to load a page changed from 1 second to 5 seconds, bounce rates increased by 90%.
Key Takeaway #1
If users abandon your online store before they can ever really shop, you’re definitely losing out on sales in both the short and long run
Loading Speed vs. Marketing ROI
Search engines like Google care about the quality of your website. If Google keeps sending searchers to websites from which they’ll bounce away, why should anyone use Google? This has led loading speed to become a direct factor in various Google algorithms.
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google has made it clear for years that they’re using page speed in search rankings.
Then, there's Google Ads.
If you don’t think that loading speeds impact your Google Ads campaigns (from Search to Shopping and between), you probably aren’t familiar with your Landing Page Score. Google doesn’t pull any punches in sharing that you should:
“Make sure your landing page loads quickly once someone clicks on your ad, whether on a computer or mobile device,” and that this is a part of landing page experience, which “affects your Ad Rank and therefore your CPC and position in the ad auction. Your ads may show less often (or not at all) if they point to websites that offer a poor user experience.”
Key Takeaway #2
It’s not just about conversion rates. Poor loading speeds can cost you traffic and can drive up your Cost Per Click (CPC) on platforms like Google Ads
Are Your Competitors Ahead of the Curve? Probably not!
In 2019, Unbounce shared that “81% of marketers know speed influences their conversions, but they’re not making it a priority.”.
Loading speed optimization is often thought of as too complex for eCommerce website owners to address. This leaves a ripe opportunity on the table for proactive website owners.
Often, competition really is everything when it comes to running successful advertising campaigns on channels like Google, especially when using Shopping ads. The digital shelf space is finite and today's shoppers are not only smarter, but but they are savvier as well.
So, while you might have the most attractive price, a special offer, the better product image - if your competition has a better on-site experience (including a very fast page load) then you still run the risk of losing a customer to them.
Key Takeaway #3
Loading speed optimization may (both): make you more competitive against your strongest competitors, and help you to leapfrog many who are behind the curve
How to Effectively Speed up Your E-Commerce Site
Like your physical health, loading page speeds are impacted by more than one factor, but some big ones generally have larger impacts on the time it takes your web pages to load.
Here are some of those "low-hanging fruit" steps you can take to begin speeding up your e-commerce site:
- Step 1: Test your site speed. There are options to test your eCommerce site’s Time to First Byte and more complex tests that will help you to identify individual bottlenecks within your site. You can access an extensive list of site speed testing tools in an article published by BigCommerce.
- Step 2: Make sure that your content team is optimizing content before uploading it to your website. For instance, there are free services like squoosh.app that make it easy to minimize the file sizes of images.
- Step 3: Work with your web host to optimize your loading speeds. This should include the use of a content delivery network (CDN), caching layers, and other configurations and optimizations. Specialized hosts like JetRails can help improve your loading speeds, optimize your hosting environment around the needs of your unique website, and load-test to make sure that your site loads quickly even during peak traffic times.
- Step 4: Work with your web developers to address any remaining bottlenecks, such as an individual extension, plugin, app, or module that’s slowing down your site, or a theme file that’s causing issues for your loading speeds.
Key Takeaway #4
Loading speed optimization is not rocket science. There are tests that you can run to see what’s slowing down your site, and web hosts like JetRails that specialize in delivering exceptional loading speeds for your site
At the end of the day, speeding up your site may take some effort, but you’ll reap the rewards via increased conversion rates and improved marketing campaign KPIs.
Additionally, you may enjoy fringe benefits. With a site that’s better optimized, your hosting should be able to support more concurrent traffic, as load testing will prove.
If you’re using a metered hosting environment like AWS, you may also see some generous cost savings.