How to improve your eCommerce site speed and rev up sales
Let’s be blunt for a second: if your online store is slow, shoppers aren’t going to stick around. Nobody wants to wait for a website to load. Prospective customers are likely to leave before you can utter the word “patience.”
And that’s hardly an exaggeration. Data from Google shows that even a two-second lag in loading time can drive 32% of visitors away without making so much as a single click.
So, whether you’re starting an online store for the first time or optimizing an existing one, you’ll want to be on the lookout for factors that could be bringing your site to a crawl and eating away at your revenue. Read on for tips on weeding out issues that can be problematic to site speed, and getting your site performing at its best.
How eCommerce site speed affects sales
Expectations are an all-time high when it comes to site speed (along with many other elements of eCommerce website optimization). Most shoppers are only willing to stick around for two to three seconds for your site to load, according to the Google study mentioned above.
Another study by Akamai and Gomez.com found that a one-second delay in page loading can lead to a 7% drop in conversions. In cold hard numbers, that means that an online business that makes $100,000 per day but has a one-second lag in loading time could see a loss of $2.5 million in sales per year.
Slow speeds pose additional risks even beyond what bounce rates can measure. Website speed can significantly impact brand loyalty and a business’s overall reputation. In fact, 52% of surveyed shoppers say that loading times influence their loyalty to an online business. And 44% say that they’re likely to tell their friends about a bad online shopping experience.
A second may seem like a miniscule amount of time, but in eCommerce, even a few milliseconds can be the deciding factor between a dissatisfied visitor and a lifetime customer.
How to measure your eCommerce site speed
So, how can you get an accurate read of your site’s loading speed?
There are two classes of data that you can use to measure this: lab data and field data.
Lab data stimulates the page-load conditions of slow networks and low-end devices. This gives an estimate of the performance score of potential visitors (keyword: “estimate”). On the other hand, field data is based on real user data, and is therefore a more accurate measure of the true user experience.
Wix merchants can monitor their site speed based on field data directly from their Wix dashboards. The Wix Site Speed Dashboard uses actual user data to provide detailed performance reports, including key performance metrics like Google’s Core Web Vitals (CWV) and First Contentful Paint (FCP), performance over time, and high- and low-performing pages. These metrics let you compare your site speed to other eCommerce sites, and provide actionable tips for optimizing your site.
Since there’s a minimal threshold for accessing Wix field data (10 site visits in the previous seven days), most Wix sites can get a readout. But if your site hasn’t yet met the threshold, you can still view lab data from Google Page Speed Insights in your Wix Dashboard. Lab data is also useful for testing and analyzing the effect of site edits on its performance. You can make any change to your site and use the Page Speed Insights results to make sure it doesn't hurt performance or even to see if you’ve improved it.
6 tips for improving your eCommerce site speed
01. Remove unnecessary third-party scripts
Third-party scripts can be valuable to your online store. Whether you’re using them to retarget site visitors on Facebook or to power your analytics apps, the right scripts play an essential role in your daily activities.
However, too many third-party scripts can drag down your site. These scripts are hosted on external domains which are out of your control, and can contain code that may substantially affect your online store's loading time.
So, the trick isn’t to necessarily eliminate these scripts entirely, but to use them with prudence. Limit the number of redundant third-party providers and only keep ones that provide high value. Use the defer attribute when you embody third-party scripts so that they don’t interrupt HTML parsing, and embed your scripts at the end of the body so that they only run after the page has fully loaded.
Or, better yet, use an eCommerce platform like Wix with integrated marketing tools that eliminate your reliance on custom code and don’t cause degradation to performance or page and site speed.
02. Optimize your product photos
Large image files can put a heavy strain on your website and significantly dampen its speed and performance. But as we all know, high-resolution images add beauty, authority, and legitimacy to any eCommerce website. This begs the question “how do you balance fast load times with impressive media?”
There are a few tricks of the trade, so to speak. One method is to place larger images lower on your product pages. This will lessen their impact on the LCP and ultimately give your images more time to load when a visitor opens the page.
Another method is to save your image files as JPG instead of larger PNG files, which take longer to load. For icons and illustrations, use SVG files—they’re lightweight, easy to scale, and retain their sharpness. Additionally, design-savvy website owners can crop, resize, and compress images on their own.
The easiest option, however, is to use a platform where image compression is handled for you. Wix eCommerce automatically resizes your media and converts it into modern image formats, like WebP, for enhanced delivery at the highest possible quality on any device. You don’t have to crop or compress images by hand; you can trust that Wix will complete this extra step to improve load times, while protecting image quality.
03. Use product videos instead of GIFs
A great way to increase conversions is to show your products in action. To that end, it’s not uncommon to create GIFs that serve as short product videos or show models sashaying in your branded apparel.
But you’ll want to avoid GIFs and publish videos instead. Auto-playing and looping GIFs can slow your page down. And thanks to modern video encoding formats, product videos are often smaller and higher-quality than GIFs. Not to mention, videos offer the benefit of audio and higher color quality.
When creating content for your site, take Wix VideoBoxes for a spin. You can customize your video (which you can upload or select from Wix’s free video library) and tailor play buttons, loop settings, and borders to your brand. Wix VideoBoxes also support transparent video.
04. Keep it simple
There’s no doubt that videos, social share buttons, and chat boxes can add value to your online store—but they add to your site’s load time as well. For this reason, you’ll need to strike a balance between features that service your business and those that weigh your site down.
The good news is that online shoppers tend to prefer performance over appearance: 57% say they prefer a fast website over animations, and 53% say they care about a website’s speed more than videos and other media, according to a survey by Unbounce.
So, if you want to improve your site speed, keep it simple. Focus on what your shoppers absolutely need. Minimize unnecessary design elements and animations.
Another way to keep it simple is to reconsider the size and length of your product pages. The more content you put on each page, the longer it will take for each page to load.
Assess the amount of content on each page (be it on your product page, category page, or About Us page) and consider breaking information up into several shorter pages by product category or content type. This can serve to speed up your site and make it easier for your buyers to digest information.
05. Optimize your online store for mobile
There are two major benefits to having your store optimized for mobile users. For starters, more and more people are shopping on their phones and tablets. And so optimizing your mobile site for speed will naturally go a long way in satisfying the ever-growing masses of mobile shoppers.
Secondly, Google crawls for mobile, meaning the speed of your mobile store can affect your visibility and organic growth.
On platforms like Wix eCommerce, you can customize the mobile shopping experience and take steps towards keeping your mobile site agile. Hide less-important content and reduce the number of galleries, feeders, and repeaters on mobile, while preserving them on your desktop site.
06. Be mindful of custom fonts
Custom fonts are fun to use and can distinguish your store from others. But custom font files need to be downloaded in a browser before shoppers can view the text. This leads to slower load times, especially as the number of fonts and font variations increases.
To keep your eCommerce site agile, try sticking to system fonts when possible. If you must use custom fonts, limit them to three to four per page (including variations in size and weight).
Get your online store up to speed
Technology is innovating at a rapid speed, and as a result, online shoppers are growing intolerant of even the slightest lags or delays when making a purchase online. So, when it comes to your online store, website speed optimization isn’t just an advantage—it’s a necessity.
Using a powerful platform like Wix eCommerce ensures that your store runs smoothly without the lags, site crashes, or slow-loading times that lead to high bounce rates and lost sales. With features such as a globally distributed CDN, automatic media resizing, custom mobile site optimization, and key metrics readouts, Wix eCommerce provides the tools to meet and exceed the expectations of today’s shoppers. This means more satisfied customers, and more revenue for your business.
Get started with Wix’s eCommerce website builder today.
Marketing Writer, Wix eCommerce
Scott is a marketing writer for Wix eCommerce, where he helps to connect merchants with the latest tips, tools, and resources.