Many companies have performed research into e-commerce conversions and the speed of their websites. In 2006, Amazon was one of the first companies to do a detailed study into the impact of slow site speed and performance on user experience and found that 100ms in latency cost them 1% in sales. That equated to $1.6 billion in sales a year. Every fraction of a second that can be reduced off on the load time of your website results in faster and better user experience for the customer and inevitably, more potential profit and revenue for your business.
In regards to improving your e-commerce store, whether you have it built on WooCommerce, Shopify or one of the many other e-commerce platforms on the market, there are a few essential and easy things you can do to get those speed improvements.
Compress and Resize Images
Compressing and resizing images used to be hard to do. It would require a designer with Photoshop and web skills to resize and optimise images accordingly. These days with the ease of e-commerce platforms such as Shopify or WooCommerce, there are plugins that you can install to do it for you. Alternatively, third-party websites such as Canva will allow you to resize images and upload them manually.
WordPress plugins such as Smush Image Optimisation or Imagify are both low-cost plugins that will automatically optimise and compress images in bulk or when you upload them to your website or e-commerce store. Other online image editing software such as Canva allows you to resize and edit the images all in your browser for free.
For online store owners that are using Shopify, the image optimisation process is built into the platform itself. It's one of those benefits of paying for a SaaS solution. It is still a good idea though to optimise and resize your images to the ideal dimensions before uploading them to the website.
Getting the images down to the right size will have a significant impact on the load times of your product pages and is always the first point of call when optimising a website.
Optimise Your Database
Optimising the database ensures that everything is running as smoothly as possible. Removing post revisions, spam and other annoying database overheads that may seem like useless data will get you the best performance from the database for your e-commerce store.
For our managed e-commerce WordPress clients, we use a few management tools such as ManageWP or WP-CLI, to help automate the database optimisation process. Anything that can be automated daily ensures things run smoothly. It frees up our time to work on more complicated tasks for your business.
For our lucky Shopify customers don't need to worry. Since Shopify's engineers have developed optimisation on a system level, all Shopify websites benefit from how their engineers have designed the database setup. You don't even need to understand the mechanics behind it.
General website optimisation is crucial, and we believe it should be standard on all websites. Whether its a Joomla, WordPress, Drupal or Magento powered e-commerce website, they all have caching mechanisms to reduce the CPU usage and to reduce the amount of time required to make database queries.
WordPress plugins such as W3 Total Cache, WPRocket and Autoptimize are easy to use plugins that do just that. They can all combine your CSS, and JS files to reduce the number of requests made to render a page on your website. Extra static caching layers are also available to help reduce the load on your server and deliver pages faster.
Secure Your Website
All e-commerce websites should be secure with an SSL certificate, that is it should have that padlock that appears next to the domain name in the browser's address bar. SSL certificates ensure that your website is secure and your customer data is protected by an end to end secured connection but also enables something called http2. Http2 protocol allows for modern browsers to load website assets in parallel instead of sequentially. Parallel loading means more website assets can download and render at the same time. If your customers have good internet connections, a secure website loading over https is that much faster in terms of load times. Don't forget that not all of the world is lucky enough to have faster Internet. A combination of http2 and a smaller footprint for your website by reducing images and other website overheads are an excellent and easy way to decrease website load times.
Optimise Database Queries and Storing Queries as Transients
Database optimisation is an additional tip for advanced users and developers that are building custom e-commerce websites.
On certain websites, you may have to write complex queries to load data in a particular view. Each time that page is loaded, your database is required to do a sizeable and complex database query causing heavy loads. In periods where there are significant traffic spikes due to e-mail marketing or TVCs, the website can be brought to its knees and not even load.
Within the core of WordPress and Joomla are native query builders that are specifically designed for retrieving data from the database. Ensure that all the queries on the site are built using these native query builders.
Furthermore, these can also be stored in database procedures or for WordPress stored as transients that can expire at a particular time. In one case, we saw a client's page load times crash a server taking over 250 seconds to load. With optimisation and caching of the queries, we saw it drop to 1.4 seconds having a direct impact on search engine optimisation of the site and user experience.
Rock-Solid WordPress Hosting
Not only is an optimised WordPress hosting environment an ideal choice in terms of security, but it will boost it for speed and performance. For years our team have helped manage our servers for our clients while also providing hosting solutions through our hosting partners, SiteGround, WPEngine and Anchor hosting.
Having an excellent hosting environment in the country where your customers are, ensures that the website loads quickly and has a fast route to the end-user.
Hosting our client's website on Sydney based data centre delivered dramatic speed increases. The localised hosting led to an improved user experience along with better search engine rankings which produced higher conversions and more leads from those websites.
Want to Improve Your E-Commerce Website?
Are you interested in getting your e-commerce website improved and converting better? Contact the team, and we'll analyse your website and determine a course of action to increase those conversions and develop more leads and customers.