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April 26, 2022 - By Acadia Otlowski

Are Your eCommerce Web Page Loading Speeds Hurting Traffic and Conversions?

eCommerce shoppers see speed and convenience as requirements, not luxuries. As we’ll illustrate, industry data consistently shows that faster-loading websites enjoy increased conversion rates. Web page loading speeds also impact your marketing team’s ability to rank your website and generate clicks to your online store in the first place.

What Impacts Do Web Page Loading Speeds Have On Bounce Rates?

Bounce rates measure the percentage of web page visitors that leave or “bounce” off of a web page without navigating to a second page. In ecommerce, you should anticipate a bounce rate greater than 0. Here are a few common examples of why a user may bounce off your website:

  • Shoppers may find the item they’re looking for is out of stock.
  • They may be gathering information like the price of a particular product. 
  • If they need to reach your team, they may only be looking for contact information.

Even though there are legitimate reasons for you to have some measurable bounce rate, there are many ways that you can keep ecommerce bounce rates low and avoid losing shoppers that you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) be losing. One major way is by improving your loading speeds. 

How much impact can speed have on bounce rates? We’ll let the data speak for itself. Here are some important stats that Google provides on this topic: 

graph showing page load times

In essence, if shoppers land on a slow-loading page on your website, the likelihood that they’ll stick around and shop your store is greatly diminished.

How Do Webpage Loading Speeds Impact Marketing Campaigns?

Here are two examples of marketing campaigns that are directly impacted by the speed of your web pages:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

When Google tweaks its organic search engine algorithms, it does so knowing that your business isn’t their customer. The individuals that are conducting searches are. Since Google’s data clearly shows that people prefer fast websites, Google’s organic search algorithms take loading speeds into account. 

Google has gone to great lengths to track a wide variety of website speed metrics, and to make these available to website owners. In 2021, Google released its new Core Web Vitals, a set of tests that report on the loading speed challenges of individual pages within your website. These include factors like how long it takes before a page becomes interactive (First Input Delay),how long it takes for content to stop shifting on the page as various images, and elements continue to load (Cumulative Layout Shift).

They’ve gone as far as to use Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor for their search engine results. These vitals scores may not be the biggest ranking factors impacting your SEO campaigns, but your website loading speeds may have enough of an effect to land you above or below some key competitors in Google’s search results. 

Google Ads

When you run a paid Google Ads campaign, you are the customer, but Google still has a vested interest in promoting high-quality websites. If not, they risk seeing a decline in the number of users that will click on their ads.

That’s why Google Ads provides a Landing Page Score. In its own words: “your landing page experience also affects ad rank position, Quality Score, and overall cost. So if your landing page is causing users to consistently leave without making a purchase, this may cause your ads to show less often, or not show up at all.

If slow web pages increase bounce rates, it’s easy to see how sluggish pages can lead to underperforming Google Ads campaigns between poor ad rank positions and higher overall costs.

How Does Loading Speed Impact eCommerce Conversion Rates?

We’ve established that slow websites are likely to earn less traffic. We’ve illustrated that shoppers are likely to leave a slow website quickly without clicking through to other pages. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t share some important stats about how speed impacts conversion rates.

Research published by Ecommerce SpeedHub in 2021 showed that increasing your loading speeds for mobile users by just 1 second would yield an average of a 5.7% lift in conversions, but that’s just an average. Google has previously reported that a 1-second delay in mobile loading times can impact mobile conversions by up to 20%.

1s delay in mobile load times can impact conversions by up to 20 percent

If you think that’s a lot, a smaller study by Deloitte shared that “…a mere 0.1s change in load time can influence every step of the user journey, ultimately increasing conversion rates. Conversions grew by 8% for retail sites…”

Depending on your current web page speeds, you may be able to quickly increase your conversion rate by double-digits just by speeding up your website leading to lots of additional revenue… and that’s not taking into account the additional traffic that you may be able to earn by improving your marketing metrics and your ability to earn more traffic in the first place.

While every business is unique, site speed is definitely one of the best places for ecommerce stores to turn when they need to improve their conversion rates and other major KPIs. 

How Do Shoppers Feel About eCommerce Loading Speeds?

Consumer sentiments matter. Giving shoppers a great experience is crucial whether you’re thinking about customer lifetime value, the likelihood of shoppers leaving positive reviews, or the chances of them sharing your brand on social media.

If your website performs poorly, you can do a lot more long-term damage to your brand than you realize.

people who have a negative experience on mobile are 62 percent less likely to make a future purchase

How Much Money Are You Actually Leaving On The Table?

Google has a scorecard that can help you estimate how much revenue speeding up your website will generate for you. 

It asks for your current (1) Speed, (2) Average Monthly Visitors, (3) Conversion Rate, and (4) Average Order Value, and will then show you a prediction of the additional revenue you can gain by improving your website loading speeds.

So, How Can You Speed Up An eCommerce Website?

The good news is that webpage loading speed optimization is now mainstream. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

The challenge is that loading speeds are impacted by a wide variety of factors, like your  website’s theme, images, apps and extensions, and hosting.

A great place to start is by testing loading speeds with tools like the GTMetrix Website Speed Test and the JetRails TTFB Test. It’s also highly recommended that you log into your Google Search Console account where you can check for Core Web Vitals warnings.

Once you’ve identified baseline loading speeds and opportunities for improvement, and used the Google Scorecard that we mentioned earlier – you’ll know if you should be investing in loading speed optimization. 

If you’re ready to start turbo-charging your ecommerce store, there are two main resources that you’ll want to include in the process:

  • Start with a great team of web developers. They can help you evaluate the elements of your website that are weighing down your loading speeds. They can also document your speed challenges, create an action plan to improve your loading speeds, take steps to improve your website, and test and measure the impacts of speed optimization efforts that you undergo together.
  • Engage with the right ecommerce web host. If you’re using an open-source eCommerce platform like Magento, WooCommerce, or Shopware, it should seem obvious that you need the right hosting, caching, CDN, and so forth. However, even stores built with SaaS platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce can benefit from the right mix of external services to optimize images, cache dynamic content, organize apps and JavaScript to run more efficiently, block browser extensions that slow down loading speeds, and so forth.

When To Declare “Mission Accomplished!”

The good news is that many of the elements of your website (like your theme) are unlikely to change on a day-to-day basis. Many of the optimizations that you put into place will continue to pay dividends. 

However, it’s important to think about how changes to your ecommerce site will affect your web page speeds. For instance, if that new app that you want to add to your product pages adds 2 seconds of loading time, it may not be worth it.

As you do make changes to your site, you’ll want to continue to monitor your web page speeds and make adjustments as needed. Something as simple as a new image or video can have a big impact on page speed.

You may also want to engage in load testing, a service that will stress-test your website to make sure it’s ready for surges and spikes in web traffic. When your website is at its busiest — on days like Black Friday — you certainly don’t want shoppers to be experiencing slow page loading times because an app or customization is bottlenecking your site.

Be sure to set goals proactively and reasonably. Remember that ecommerce sites bring together content and functionality. There’s no expectation that your complex web pages will load in under a second. 

An ecommerce site is never truly done, but it’s still important to set goals and invest wisely.