Time is a factor in any e-commerce business, so it makes sense that you optimising all aspects of the online experience comes down to also nailing load times and page speed. In the world of e-commerce, this is no different.
In this guide, we'll show you exactly how to speed up your online store, maximising ranking potential, conversions and flawless user experience.
Why does loading speed even matter?
The loading of your website is important since it directly affects the number of visitors your site gets and, in the case of an eCommerce website, how well it converts.
People prefer online shopping because it offers more convenience and it saves their time. If a website takes a super long time to load, the essence of online shopping - namely, saving time, is brutally killed.
Let's look at an example to see this in action.
Imagine you’re in a store and want to purchase some things. The clerk at the counter seems to be in no hurry to serve you; they keep you waiting while they move slowly around, taking their time to put your goods in a bag. No doubt you'd rather head to somewhere where you can find the items you want in less time and be served rapid-quick.
Online users are just like real shoppers who visit physical stores and shopping centres. If your website takes longer than just three seconds to load, 40% of your website traffic is instantly lost. We're not even kidding – that's the cold, hard truth.
Some of your prospects might even swap to a competing website and make their transaction there. Imagine this on a larger scale where all of your visiotrs are doing the same thing.
At the end of the day, a slow-loading website can ruin your conversion rates in a heartbeat. This means that all your efforts to get a successful Shopify store up and running are left to run down the drain.
How to increase your Shopify store speed
In this article, we present some easy tips and tricks to optimise your Shopify store's website speed. By following these easy rules, you'll improve your site’s speed and performance across the board, giving you a far better user experience and increased conversions.
Make sure your slider isn't slowing you down
Sliders are useful for displaying multiple products at once and they can look pretty sleek. But the problem with using large images like this, with an animated transition, is that it can significantly slow down the loading time of your site. This is a big turn off for visitors who have hit your page and are met with a waiting time to view content. They'll most likely hit the back button.
If you ask us, we recommend you remove your slider, but if you need further facts to persuade you, try these on for size:
- Only 1% of website visitors click on sliders.
- They annoy users and reduce content visibility.
- Like carousels, they are not typically mobile-friendly.
- They can negatively affect SEO.
Compress images and reduce their file size
Images are the be-all and end-all of every ecommerce store. Without them, a digital storefront is just a plethora of products with nothing to prove their worth. Shopping is all about the look and feel of a product, and even though this is online, images cater for that user need.
Fortunately, the Shopify platform has no limitations on uploading images, but there are best practices on file format and sizes. If you're finding that your site is loading slowly, try reducing the file size of your images and rechecking the load speed. There are also plenty of plugins on the market that allow you to optimise these areas of your business, and specialists (like us) that can do it for you.
Don't worry - your images will still look the same; the magic is just in the technical size of them, not the quality.
Choose a responsive theme that loads fast
Selecting a Shopify theme is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when you launch a store on this platform. It's also the foundation of your online business when it comes to appearance and first impressions. Ultimately, an attractive and appealing storefront is a powerful sales tool and helps to attract prospects and sell your products, and your Shopify theme is the gateway for this.
When you're starting out or giving your store a makeover, we recommend choosing themes that are not heavy or slow, and are quick to load overall. Make sure that they don't contain too many sliders, animations, transitions and 'bulky' features that may affect how your page loads.
Handy top: Run the theme’s preview on Google Page Speed Insights. It will show how much time it takes to load the theme and offer suggestions to make your site faster.
Reduce the number of installed apps
Apps are really helpful when you have no coding experience and help you integrate features like live chat to your site, without fiddling with HTML.
For instance, an e-commerce store can download a live chat app and then integrate it with their Shopify site without needing to get a tech expert to fiddle in the back end.
To fix this, simply uninstall those you don't need (again, check out your slider widgets here). Alternatively, uninstall larger sized ones and find similar ones that are significantly smaller, as a replacement.
Fix broken links
Error 404, this page is unavailable.
The performance of your website should always be a priority. If you find your Shopify store has too many redirects and broken links, you should reduce them as much as possible. Poorly performing websites in this regard will negatively affect your search engine rankings, thus being a detriment to your online visibility.
A note on redirects
Your domain can get hit with redirects if you don’t follow SEO practices, which then slows down your site. This is especially noticeable if you have an e-commerce store or if you run a blog. To fix these instances, use the ‘URL redirect‘ function of Shopify to apply 301 redirects to your website.
Google PageSpeed Insights is your best friend
The best part about using PageSpeed Insights is that it offers valuable tips on optimising your store for speed and load times. It will tell you details like:
- Needed compression
- Eliminate landing page redirects
- Optimise images
- Decrease server response time
- Remove render-blocking CSS and JS in above-the-fold web page content
- Use browser caching.
Essentially, use Google PageSpeed Insights to analyse the elements that slow down your web pages and then work through them one at a time. Remember, you can also check out your online store speed report on Shopify itself.
A fast-loading site is essential for the successful operation of a Shopify store. No one likes to wait for good things, so it's always important to prioritise this aspect of your marketing. While it often involves a lot of assessment, comparisons and problem-solving, going through these steps will land you in far better water than if you left everything to the wayside - trust us.
If you're still struggling to improve the speed of your Shopify store, get in touch with our friendly team and we will happily restore your site to the best possible level of performance.