10 Ways to Improve eCommerce Site Speed
The trend of eCommerce shopping will only increase in the years to arrive. More customers and eCommerce stores will enter the league, making the competition even punitive. However, in this race to win more customers through cutting-edge features, businesses struggle to keep their eCommerce site speed optimal.
With every innovative feature, you add on your website, the page loading speed becomes slower. Although majorities of the eCommerce websites, we see today, work on some highly optimized eCommerce platforms, there are still N numbers of other factors that make an eCommerce site slower.
Be advised that, even a one-second delay in your site’s loading speed can cause you to yield a significant percentage of your revenue. In a study by Google’s mobile page speed, they found the following impacts on a site’s bounce rate as it gets slower:
Source: via Think with Google
As the competition in the online retail market is touching the skies, the stakes are getting unexpectedly higher. After studying 12 different cases, Skilled found out the following impacts on sales if an eCommerce website is unable to load as fast as the customers expect it to be.
Credit: A Skilled study via a Shopify post
Apart from this, even the search engines wouldn’t think much good while ranking you in their SERPs. You might suffer a significant penalty on both organic and paid search rankings with a slower eCommerce site speed. As of now, loading speed is one of the significant ranking factors in Google’s mobile SERPs.
10 ways to boost your eCommerce site speed
Depending on the kind of platform you are using, there could be several ways to boost your eCommerce site speed. We have included ten of the most crucial ways that apply to almost every kind of eCommerce platform. Let’s see how you can improve your eCommerce site speed through these easy optimizations.
1. Use Faster and Dependable Web Hosting
You need a website hosting-server to make your website visible on the internet. You can either manage your server or purchase a hosting plan from a web hosting company. The former requires several in-house resources, which remains another case of discussion. At this moment, we are focusing on the most familiar situation, i.e. purchasing a hosting plan from a web hosting service provider.
- Dedicated resources
- Faster Storage Drives
- Flexible scalability
E-commerce websites do not merely receive heavy traffic but also their technology stacks are significantly complex and resource hungry. The web server remains in a continuous busy state and it has to serve every request as fast as possible. To serve faster and manage massive traffic, maintaining a dedicated server is not an option but a necessity for eCommerce sites. Besides, the host must offer SSD (Solid State Drive) as they are faster than traditional HDD (Hard Disk Drive).
With all these into consideration, the cost of hosting might touch the skies, but you don’t need so much storage space and dedicated servers every day. That’s where you must seek flexible servers that up-scale and downscale your resources automatically based on the dynamic requirements. In this way, you would be incurring a nominal cost in the eased-up periods, and paying merely for what you utilize.
Given these requirements and your budget, you can go for elastic cloud servers, which fulfill all the above-mentioned facets. Avoid Shared servers at any cost. Moreover, don’t forget to consider the reputation and record of the accomplishments of the hosting company. You can include factors like 24×7 customer support, the record of downtime in the last 12 months, the scale of other websites utilizing their services, etc.
2. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
If you maintain a business in multiple countries, or you utilize a significant amount of media files on your website, consider purchasing a subscription of a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN is composed of several local servers placed in distinct parts of the planet. These servers distribute the load from your web-hosting server (also called the origin server) and keep it stress-free.
Moreover, a CDN boosts the speed by caching frequently used resources on local servers (also called as edge servers) in the network. Say your web server is located in the UK, but your website also functions in the US. Without a CDN, for every request your website gets from the US, it will take some time for the server in the UK to first receive, process, and then serve the request.
With local servers there in the US from your CDN, your website would not have to wait for the request to visit UK’s origin server. The local servers can use caching to quickly server the request without any latency.
There are different types of CDNs based on the purpose. You need not go for the extremely sophisticated ones. A modest CDN plan with a presence in all your target locations can do the job for an eCommerce website. Most of the time, the reputed web hosting companies themselves provide the CDN services. If you look carefully, you can get both web hosting and CDN at the same place.
3. Reduce Overall Size of Your Web-Pages
You can improve the overall eCommerce site speed by decreasing the size of your web pages too. We measure the size of a web page in Kilobytes. The more is the size, the longer it takes to load on the browser. You can measure the size of a web page by simply saving it on your computer.
4. Optimize Thumbnail and Other Image sizes
Images make almost 50%-70% of your web-page size. There is no doubt that you need high-quality images for your eCommerce site, but higher the quality, the larger the page gets. The best way to handle the situation is by using losses compression of the images.
Various online tools on the internet allow lossless image compression tasks. You can use any of them to reduce the file size of an image without reducing the quality. Apart from this, it’s habitually a good practice to trim down an image to retain only the meaningful part and reduce the overall size.
Apart from this, you must use a definite resolution of the images as per their application. For example, thumbnail images need not be of high resolution. You can reduce both the resolution and file size of the thumbnail image without worrying about the quality.
It goes to banners, carousal, and slider images too. Different kinds of images use specific resolution parameters. You must ensure you don’t reduce or increase the resolutions other than how they are supposed to be as per your theme or template. Doing so will not only optimize the overall size of your web page but also prevent images from being skewed or blurred.
5. Compress and Reduce Overall Data
You can use Gzip or any other file compression tool to compress any file that you sent from the server to the browser. Setting up a file compression on the server-side is a delicate job; you would need some expert assistance. However, once you do it, the data compression will make sure your pages load after than how they were supposed to load in conditions otherwise.
6. Utilize Caching and In-Memory Technology
Make use of caching and in-memory optimizations to reduce the number of times a webpage has to access the database needlessly. If you are using a Node.Js eCommerce platform, this is not much of an issue, as Node.js is already a fast framework with NoSQL databases. However, if you are using a PHP based platform, you need caching to fetch and temporarily store frequently used data in the RAM such as product information, customer information, search indexes, and others. Since RAM is much faster than a hard disk, the input-output operation will commit faster, making the overall process quick. It will also reduce the unnecessary stress on the hosting server.
7. Use Code Minification Universally
8. Reduce Redirects and Take Out Broken Links
Redirects and broken links are bad for not just website speed but also SEO. Do some audit of your website and find out all redirects you have been using knowingly and unknowingly. For example, 302-redirects that relay a URL temporarily can create a bad impact. The additional HTTP requests to conduct these redirects put extra stress on the server. Instead, you should use cacheable redirects or out 301 permanent redirects. Remove any redirect that is redirecting on a URL which itself is a redirect.
Remove all the broken links or fix them if they are important. The resources, Js, CSS, and HTML on the pages with broken links put unnecessary stress, and you should remove them immediately. Apart from this, create a lightweight 404-error page to assist the users who type wrong URLs.
9. Remove Unnecessary Plugins and Add-Ons
Too many plugins, add-ons, modules, extensions, and third-party integrations do not only make your website weighty but may also bring poor code base with them. Most of the time, you don’t even use many plugins already on the site. You must follow the two important rules for extra plugins.
- Remove all the plugins and extensions you no longer use
- Use plugins and extensions from only reputed developers
Unnecessary plugins if present on the site eats your storage and resources. Even if you don’t use them, they keep running in the background, reducing your eCommerce site speed. It is better to uninstall them. You can check the poorly coded plugins from google Chromes Developer tools. You will see the information in the “Network” tab.
You should hire a developer to track, identify, and remove unnecessary or poorly developed plugins.
10. Optimize Default Platform Configurations
If you are using a third-party eCommerce platform like Magento, Shopify, ShopyGen, OpenCart, etc., these platforms offer various in-built settings to optimize website loading speed. Most of the time, you can perform many of the above-given optimizations without touching the codes; by just using a Graphical User Interface at the back-end panel.
For example, Magento’s back-end has inbuilt configurations to setup file compression, CDN, Caching, image resizing, etc. If you are using an eCommerce platform, it’s necessary to know the optimal settings for all back-end configurations. You can achieve 80% of your eCommerce site speed optimizations by tweaking these settings alone.
Don’t forget to keep a continuous track
Several premium and free-to-use tools are available on the internet to track your website speed. We find Google’s Page Speed Insights is a great tool to not only track your site’s speed but also know about the specific optimizations you can perform to improve overall performance. The tool also provides audits of things that are working perfectly so that you do not mess with them.
Source: Google’s page speed Insights
It can test both mobile and desktop versions of your web pages and offer separate audits for each. One more tool is Google’s Test My Site. The tool offers detailed audits for your website based on the mobile-browsing experiences. It makes mobile-specific speed optimizations easy by suggesting precise mistakes and their solutions. Besides, you can filter your audit criteria based on geo-location, network speed, and other similar sites in your target geo-location.
So don’t wait. Track your eCommerce site speed today and optimize it for faster loading. It’s important for your business.