E-commerce sales have increased dramatically over the past few years, and the growth continues to accelerate. Between 2015 and 2016, online sales increased almost 16 percent, and e-commerce is expected to continue to grow at rates above 20 percent. For online sellers and developers of e-commerce sites, this means the market will only become more competitive, and shorter load times will become more important.
Alongside increased sales, internet speeds continue to rise — and so do consumer expectations for online experiences. A measly four-second wait time causes 25 percent of site visitors to abandon a page, and for a site as large as Amazon, a single second of slowdown could cost $1.6 billion. Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at.
If your competitors’ sites load faster than yours, you could see your revenue start shifting to them. The effect is multiplied the longer you ignore your slow website, so why wait? The first step is to identify the mistakes that could be slowing down your website, keeping you from shorter load times, and costing you customers and cash. Next, you can take steps to correct them:
1. Use the Right Content Management System
If your solution isn’t specifically built for your site’s needs, you could be missing significant speed gains. There are several options for e-commerce websites, each with advantages and disadvantages depending on store type, traffic volume, etc. Evaluate your current choice, and shop around to see whether you could do better.
2. Cache Static Content
Several website elements remain the same across pages. By integrating a caching system, you can make these static elements load more quickly and improve overall page performance. Play around with a few different options, and see which cached objects boost performance the most.
3. Limit Redirects
Redirects occur when users enter a site and are subsequently shuffled over to another location on the site, another file, or another site entirely. This redirect process uses more site resources and slows down load times. Assess your site, and identify opportunities to eliminate unnecessary redirects.
4. Use the Right Hosting Provider
E-commerce sites experience web traffic spikes for various reasons — sometimes out of nowhere — requiring additional processing power during these peak times. Without that power, you could be missing the chance to turn a great sales day into a phenomenal one.
Find a flexible hosting provider that helps you add resources when needed and decrease them when the peak has passed. Look for a reliable infrastructure provider with a well-developed network, expert service, and a high degree of core uptime so you know it’s always online and available.
5. Do Not Underestimate the Importance of a Content Delivery Network
CDNs can create dramatically shorter load times, particularly for sites with large images, videos, and other media — in other words, most e-commerce sites. Keeping content on servers closer to the end user allows you to deliver that content more quickly. As with anything, shop around to see which CDN best suits your needs.
Your customers won’t put up with a slow website, and neither should you. Prioritize the consumer online experience, and you will see results in the short term and with repeat long-term customers. Evaluate your website to see whether you might be making some of these mistakes; then, act quickly to correct them.