Decrease Your eCommerce Store’s Load Time and Increase Sales
Statistics reveal that most eCommerce stores were slower to load this Black Friday (2014) compared to the previous year (2013), raising the frustration levels among customers. Catchpoint Systems, a web performance monitoring company, reviewed aggregate performance and compared it to the previous year. It found that mobile web pages took longer to load than desktop pages. While mobile pages were 57.21% slower than the previous year, desktop web pages were almost 19.85% slower.
The primary reason for the slow speed for most web pages was their bigger size and volume of downloadable data. BestBuy.com went down twice on Black Friday and experienced major loading problems on Thursday.
Speeding Up Your eCommerce Store Will Increase Sales!
Radware research indicates that the premier 500 US retail sites have become 16% slower compared to their loading time last year. Unfortunately, an eCommerce store loses almost 25% of its visitors due to its slow speed, especially if takes more than 4 seconds for loading.
Here are some important points to take note of:
- Choose a hosted solution to ensure a good loading speed of your eCommerce store. Many experts suggest combining WordPress and Drupal Commerce or WP eCommerce plugin could help. Ideally it depends on your choice of CMS.
- Choose a reliable, flexible web host with good uptime and high performing servers to cater to uncontrollable web traffic spikes. It will also help to get a dedicated IP address for your website to accelerate response time during high rush hours. Cloud hosting helps a lot as it enables scaling up and down easily without any down time.
- Get little data from external resources. Minimizing external resources will help improve loading speed of your website. So, instead of hotlinking to images, it will help to upload them to your hosted server.
- Reduce the number of HTTP requests by using CSS sprite, which is a combination of different images. Enabling KeepAlive connections will help send multiple HTTP requests on your server. However, remember to set the maximum number of HTTP requests per connection. It will also help to have the KeepAlive time out before the default time of 15 seconds so that it does not stay on longer.
- Get a PHP accelerator for your PHP application to improve page generation throughput. For sites written in another language, you don’t need a PHP accelerator.
- Eliminate white spaces, redundant characters from the code and enable gzip compression on your server in order to reduce the file size of your pages.
- Occasionally check your website for broken links. Broken Link Checker for WordPress and W3C’s link checker are some of the free tools to detect broken links.
- Use browser caching for your eCommerce store to spare the browser the need to retrieve web pages from the server whenever a user makes a request on the site, such as visits to another page or revisits the site.
- Keep your CMS and its plugins updated with stable and secure versions. Keep it updated with new features that can help keep it bug-free and improve its speed.
- Use compressed images on your website to improve its loading time. Radware research shows that almost 45% websites ignore the need for compressing images. Using an image optimization tool, such as Dynamic Drive, Riot, and Smush.it, is the best way to compress images.
- Set image dimensions by specifying width and height in the code to reduce the time it takes the image to load fully.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) on your eCommerce store to accelerate the speed of gathering content from multiple servers. CloudFlare, MaxCDN, CacheFly, and EdgeCast are a few popular CDNs. However, remember, CDNs do not come cheap. It will help to exhaust other means before turning to CDN.
- Offer an optimized mobile solution to provide a decent user experience. A mobile version of your eCommerce store should be slimmer and more agile than the desktop version.
- Use URL-based social sharing buttons to make them lighter and reduce their weight on your eCommerce store. It has been often seen that social buttons on sites can add an extra 500 kb to website loads.
You can check the speed and performance of your website using speed checkers, including Pingdom and Webpage Test, to give users a fast loading website with seamless browsing. That is guaranteed to give them a great shopping experience with you.