Is Your Website Too Slow to Sell

Is your website too slow to sell? It’s possible for a sluggish ecommerce website to undo all of the hard work that you’ve been doing. In this article we’ll be explaining why slow ecommerce websites are such a problem and some of the steps that you can take to speed up your site.

If you’ve ever used a slow website then you’ll know how frustrating it can be. Slow websites tend to result in one of two outcomes, neither of which are good news for store owners.

The first is that customers leave your website before it loads. We’ll be discussing this in more detail later on, but needless to say it’s a fairly catastrophic outcome if you’ve spent time and money to win that customer to your site.

The second is only marginally better, and that is that you put customers in a bad mood before they’ve even seen your products. Slow websites lead to frustrated users; frustrated users don’t tend to be the most willing of would-be customers.

If you’ve not experienced the frustration of a slow website for yourself then these statistics should help to show you why load times are so important.

These statistics show the impact of a slow website:

  • A load time of 1 second = <10% page abandonment
  • A load time of 4 seconds = 25% page abandonment
  • A 1 second delay can reduce your conversion rate by 7%
  • 47% of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less

Quite simply, consumers know what they want when it comes to website load times. They want fast. Almost 1/2 of customers surveyed said that they expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less, but in a recent survey of 500 leading retail sites only Ikea actually achieved this, with a load time of 1.85 seconds.

Slow websites are a problem for everybody, but they’re particularly dangerous for those of us running ecommerce stores. Not only will slow websites deter customers in the moment, but evidence suggests that shoppers will avoid stores where they’ve experienced problems in the past. If your website is too slow to sell then you’re in serious danger of losing customers – for good.

The problems don’t end with page abandonment whilst your website is loading. This is really only the tip of the iceberg.

There are widespread implications for slow ecommerce stores. Customers are more likely to be frustrated by your website and fail to complete transactions. Mobile users may be unable to access your website at all. Google include website speed as a ranking factor in their search algorithm, which means that slow websites tend to experience poor SEO results.

Slow load times are a serious problem for ecommerce stores. You’ve persuaded customers to click through to your website – often at great cost to your business (PPC campaigns, SEO, marketing efforts etc) – and a significant percentage don’t even see what you’re offering because the site is too slow. When you’ve got people abandoning transactions because of user experience issues then you know it’s time to sort things out.

Too Slow to Sell: Speeding Up Your Ecommerce Store

Too Slow to Sell Speeding Up Your Ecommerce StoreThere are hundreds of factors that contribute to the speed of your website. If you’re looking for a detailed list of steps that you can take to improve your page load speed then Kissmetrics have put together an excellent overview.

Here we’ll be concentrating on 6 steps that you can take to work out and improve the speed of your website.

1. Check your Website Speed

Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool is a great place to start. This helps to ‘grade’ the speed of your website and shows how you can make your site faster. You’ll need to meet Google’s page load criteria to improve your SEO results, so it’s a pretty accurate gauge of how well you’re doing.The tool will also show the performance of your site on mobile and desktop users, which is particularly helpful when you’re thinking about connecting with mobile customers.

It’s worth comparing your site to your competitors too.

2. Check Your Hosting Provider

If your ecommerce store is very slow then it’s worth checking that your hosting provider aren’t contributing to or causing this. Some hosting providers are better than others. If you’re not happy with the service that you’re receiving then it’s very easy to change.

A more common issue is that you signed up for a basic hosting package – probably when you first launched the site – but now have very different requirements. It might cost you a little more each month, but upgrading to a better and faster hosting package could make a huge difference to your page load speed. Remember that sales are on the line, and a small increase in your conversion rate will easily justify the cost of faster hosting.

3. Optimise Your Images

Large images tend to be one of the biggest culprits when we’re looking for reasons why an ecommerce store is slow. Taking time to optimise your images will help to make your website lighter and faster.Ecommerce websites usually have a lot more images than the average website. If they are uploaded in high resolution then they will be putting a huge amount of strain on your site. Compressing and reducing the size of your images will reduce the amount of data that needs to be processed each time a user visits your store. This will make the site much faster without having to make any cosmetic changes to your site.

4. Fix Broken Links

Broken links slow down your website because each they increase the number of HTTP requests that are made each time a visitor lands on your site. By fixing broken links – either by removing them altogether or making sure that they’re pointing to the correct destination – you’ll be making your website much more efficient.This will reduce load time and improve user experience.

5. Update your CMS and Plugins

It’s important to update your content management system and plugins regularly. Newer, updated versions will have been fine-tuned to improve performance. They’ll have been carefully tested to remove bugs and problems from previous versions, which will make your site faster and better for users.

Plugins can be a huge asset to an ecommerce store because they improve your functionality. However, they can slow things down. They should be regularly updated, and redundant plugins should be deleted to avoid slowing things down unnecessarily.

6. Remove Slow Components From Your Website

It’s possible that certain components of your website are slowing everything else down. Removing these features is likely to speed things up significantly. You’ll need to weigh up whether or not it’s worth keeping them or finding a faster alternative.

Certain features such as image sliders are probably worth dispensing with – they’re not as effective as we initially thought, and using a static image gives you much more control over the first impression your store has on customers.

If you think that your website’s too slow to sell then it’s well worth looking into ways to fix it. Speeding up your ecommerce store is surprisingly easy and can have powerful results.

Image: David Saddler on Flickr (Creative Commons)

Written by EcommerceRVW
EcommerceRVW is a dedicated Ecommerce Blog bringing you regular ecommerce articles, reviews, case studies and guides. We're passionate about helping ambitious store owners take their business to the next level.