E-commerce websites are one of the most popular forms of e-business. As online stores get three times the growth rate of their brick-and-mortar counterparts, many traditional retailers expand into online sales. This makes the competition nothing short of fierce.
How, you may ask, does one stand out among such competition?
This is where we talk about website speed. Speed might not be as important as content, but it is still one of the largest predictors of website success. More importantly, website speed is a factor few website owners are aware of.
And an important factor it is. If your store earns $100,000 a day, just one second of delay in page load times eats away $2.5 million in revenue over the course of a single year.
Speed is obviously important. That’s why we’ll explain how website speed influences your e-commerce site, from the beginning to the end of customer funnel.
The first important thing speed influences is online visibility. If your website is slow, fewer people find your store.
This is because speed is a direct and indirect ranking factor in search queries. One look at the statistics shows this. The average website takes 9.3 seconds to load while the typical top-ranked site in Google’s search results takes only 1.9.
That means that if you want to get more potential customers, improving site speed is the way to go. If you’re looking for a concrete example, SmartFurniture.com climbed two rank positions in search results by improving speed alone. This got them a 20% boost in organic search traffic.
Unfortunately, getting users to your store isn’t enough. You need to keep them there long enough to make a purchase.
As you can probably guess, website speed plays a part here too. Users dislike waiting. If your online store takes too long to load, most users outright leave.
Let’s look at the stats again. The first thing is the bounce rates. Some visitors bounce away, meaning they leave after only seeing one page. The base bounce rate for e-commerce sites usually falls somewhere between 20% and 40%. These users leave no matter what you do—they are simply not ready to make a purchase.
Site speed has a tremendous effect on bounce rates. In fact, if your site takes just 3 seconds to load, the probability of bouncing increases by 32%. Make this 5 seconds and it’s a whopping 90%. In other words, if your site is sluggish, even the best offers and deals won’t stop people from leaving.
Fast load times have other benefits here. Faster websites get more page views per visitor, more time spent on site, and higher customer satisfaction.
If you want to secure customers, fast speed is the way to do it.
The story doesn’t end here. Let’s say a customer finds a product they like and clicks the “add to cart” button. You’ve made the sale, right?
Not really. Shopping cart abandonment is also a factor. The estimated annual cost of abandoned shopping carts worldwide is $18 billion.
A big factor here is, you guessed it, website speed. Research shows a correlation between slow speeds and cart abandonment rates.
Here are some interesting stats that factor into this:
▪ 2 seconds of loading delay can cause up to 87% abandonment
▪ 44% of users worry about transaction security if checkout takes too long
▪ Long load times are the top reason 51% of US customers abandon a purchase
There are too many points in a transaction where a user can change their mind and abandon a purchase. You must maintain short load times or your sales will definitely suffer.
Here’s one final statistic. Each added second of loading delay results in a 7% reduction to conversions. That’s about 30% smaller profit if your pages load in 5 seconds. The situation only gets worse as your load times increase.
This applies to e-commerce websites of all sizes. Even a site as big as Amazon projected they would lose 7% of their profits—$1.6 billion—if their load times went up by 1 second. If a huge enterprise like Amazon isn’t immune to the dangers of long load times, nobody is.
That’s why it’s so important to familiarize yourself with good website speed practices. Put particular effort into optimizing your checkout process so it doesn’t drive away customers.
Do this and your store will surely stand out amidst the competition.
To learn more about website speed, take a look at the infographic below. It has useful stats that showcase the importance of speed clearly.