Optimizing Your Shopify Store Loading Speed

It is amazing how far we have come from the days where the internet was only a thought. Having the internet has become the professional way of life and people have realised that shopping online works. It is safe, reliable, and efficient. Site speed is an especially important aspect when it comes to running your own e-commerce website and over the years with wider availability of stronger internet services, the download speed of ecommerce sites has increased greatly. 

The e-commerce world is more competitive than it has ever been before, new stores are constantly being developed and adding more selection to customers. In order to succeed you need to promote customer satisfaction and set yourself apart from your competitors. It is important for those with their own e-commerce sites to continually add value to their site, to focus on customer service, and to keep up to date with technological improvements. One factor that needs to be considered is to optimize your ecommerce page loading speed.

Retail Systems Research (RSR) found that an average e-commerce site took 9.5 seconds to load on a mobile device and 16.6 seconds for a site to load on a desktop. Those figures are well above the default standard which should be three seconds. Each second it takes to load an e-commerce site, increases your risk for losing customers. Read on a little further here on retaildive.com

So how can you increase the speed of your ecommerce site and keep your customers coming back? This article will offer you an easy guide that anyone can use to improve their site. 

Determine the site’s speed!

There are various tools that one can use to determine the speed of your ecommerce site. One of the most used and trusted tools is the TestMyStoreSpeed App.

This application is free to all users. Several members of the Shopify community use it to test their site speed.  Test My Store Speed looks at your product pages, collection pages, and cart page and gives you a clear view of your site’s speed. In addition to this, it will offer you a recommendation full of clear and concise ways in which to solve and action specified problems.  Test My Store Speed specifically works with a collection of data to inform you of what necessary changes need to be made.  Now that you have determined what your site speed is, you know how much attention you need to add to optimizing the speed. 

Increase your site speed!

Remember that it is a fact that 80% of customers will go out of their way to tell at least 44% of their friends and colleagues about their bad experience with an ecommerce store.  Another interesting and disconcerting fact is that 57% of visitors will leave the website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. 

Various studies that have dealt with customer expectations of ecommerce site performance have shown that 79% of customers are less likely to return to your store if they are dissatisfied with its site speed.

If those figures are not something to go on, take note of the figures that have shown that 64% of smart phone users expect a site to load in under four seconds while 47% of desktop shoppers expect a site page to load in under 2 seconds.  Remember that your customers are not the only ones recognizing your store’s slow speed: Search Engine Channels such as Google are picking up on it too.  Paid searches lower your Google Awards Quality Score which ultimately means a higher cost-per-click out of pocket for you.

Look at the following when focussing on your ecommerce speed optimization:

1. Applications

As exciting and innovative as applications are, they unfortunately slow down your site speed. The more apps you have installed; the more resources that need to be loaded for your site. This increases requests, render-blocking, and page weight which negatively affects your store load time.

If you uninstall the app then the app codes remain in the background. TestMyStoreSpeed can assist with this and will recognize the apps that are running as well as the ones you uninstalled from the theme code. Apps installed onto your Spotify store all load their own resources such as HTML, scripts, stylesheets, images, and fonts that are then injected into your site when it loads.

2. Do not use Sliders

Sliders add unnecessary images that take up space and are bad for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). They also load poorly on a mobile device because they push down your content. It is more effective to use just one captivating image instead of using sliders that take up valuable site space that could rather be used for other important content. 

3. Compress the images

Images that are not sized correctly, or contain odd formats, will slow down your site.  You need to compress them so that they do not need to be resized in code. The suggested format is to use JPEG images for fast loading.  

Studies have shown that at least 66% of customers want to see at least three images of the product that they are intending to buy, just make sure they are sized correctly.

Another point to consider is to always specify the height and width for images so that your browser can create the correct placeholders for the images. The site will then load your page and images simultaneously.

4. Utilize a responsive theme

Use a fast and responsive theme for your store. Remember that site speed can depend heavily on the theme that has been used so ensure that you have used a fast theme. Using Google Lighthouse offers Google Page Speed Insights as part of its program and provides informative scores regarding your Shopify store. This makes Google Page Speed Insights a great tool to use when assessing your Shopify store’s response rate and it guides you on how to optimize your overall site speed for a higher score. 

Paste the URL to your Shopify store in the Google PageSpeed Insights bar and select “Analyze”. The tool will run an assessment on your site and offer you scoring on your site speed, the Shopify theme will also be scored. Click on “Optimization Suggestions” to see what guidelines are offered if your site needs improvement. You can test your mobile and desktop speeds using the free tool from Google.

TestMyStoreSpeed is developing a new feature that will inform you whether a certain theme is fast or not.

The site’s bottom line

Customer service is always valued, it will keep your customer’s happy, they will return to your site, and they will promote your site with positive word of mouth marketing. A solid product matched together with effective marketing and excellent site speed is the best way to add the competitive edge to your Shopify store and to help you stand out from the rest of the stores available on the world wide web.

Remember that site speed can mean the difference between a conversion and a bounce which can make a considerably large difference to your site and overall customer satisfaction. It is one accomplishment to be able to attract your customers to your store, but the ultimate challenge is keeping them there long enough to enjoy and finalize their shopping experience.

If you add transactional emails, follow up emails, calls to action on your site, memorable branding, and customer engagement, together with customer service that offers repeat sales, then you have a store to be reckoned with.

This is a guest post contribution by Andrew Durot. Andrew Durot lives and breathes ecommerce, founding ecomexperts.io after his time at Airbnb. Andrew and his team specialize in Shopify store speed and site performance.

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