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Make your site zoom and your eCommerce business boom!

If you read our last post about the true cost of slow site speed in eCommerce, then you’ll know that performance optimisation should be high on your agenda.

But what does that actually look like in practice?

In this post we’re going to dig a little deeper and see how performance optimisation can actually be used to improve the user experience – and it doesn’t stop at page load times…

The bad news is – site speed is about to become more important than ever before, and to keep up, you’re probably going to have to do something about it… Which could be quite expensive. The good news? Well, you’re reading this article, which is definitely a great start.

Grow your customer base by offering a frustration-free experience

Customers are a bit like water: they’ll follow the path of least resistance – or in this case, frustration! No customer will checkout on a site that’s slow, riddled with bugs, and almost impossible to use. They’ll switch to a site that doesn’t have those problems.

This is great news for you if your site fulfils that – especially in industries where the eCommerce offering is lagging behind. There’s a reason online-only fashion merchants like Boohoo, Missguided and Pretty Little Thing have outlived established high street powerhouse Arcadia, and while it’s not all about site speed, it is about keeping your business agile and focusing on what the customer wants – arguably the basis of good performance optimisation.

Take our clients, Selco for example – the construction and building materials industry is not the first sector that springs to mind when you think innovative eCommerce. But why shouldn’t it be? 

We worked with them for 6 years to take them from a basic brochure site – without so much as an online checkout – to one of the fastest PWA eCommerce stores in the world, never mind their industry.

Speed is an important factor in this – but there’s a lot else that comes into play as well, and it wasn’t a case of just paring back their site to the bare minimum to improve load times. 

The construction industry is arguably not known for its world-leading customer service – generally adopting a ‘get what you’re given’ approach, and that just wasn’t going to cut it for Selco, or for us. From launching a job planning tool to make costing more straightforward, to offering click and collect, bulky delivery services and scheduled deliveries during the checkout process, we helped Selco turn that industry trope on its head.

All that hard work paid off. A massive 300% improvement in their site speed had a profound effect on the bottom line – a 23% increase in conversions meant transactions increased by 94%, resulting in a massive 83% rise in revenue. Having an established online offering also meant that it was there to support the business even when stores were closed in lockdown – and to meet the demand of budding DIY-ers too, not just professional builders.

Cater to each customer’s unique journey… by being lazy

This is the only time we’re going to tell you to be lazy – so listen up! You need to incorporate lazy loading into your site.

Love them or hate them, most businesses have customer personas knocking around somewhere. And no matter how good yours are, for this tip we’re asking you to throw Discount Debbie and Last Minute Larry right out of the window – you won’t be needing them for this!

Because in all honesty, every single customer is going to use your site differently. We all have different preferences when we shop, and the way I do my online food shop – for example – is probably totally different to how you do yours, even if we do both buy bread, eggs and onions. Some customers make purchasing choices based on video content, others on reviews; some will need to use a chatbot, others won’t – but if everyone’s different, how do you make it work for everyone, AND improve your site performance?

The answer is lazy loading.

What does this look like? In practice, it can be a bunch of things, but in short – only load what really needs to be there. 

A customer landing on the homepage doesn’t need all the checkout assets to load – at least not until they reach the checkout page, and better to save that load time for then (because at that point, they’ve already made the decision to purchase, right?). 

Similarly, maybe only 20% of your customers use the live chat, so why take the time to load the entire system for 100% of them? Much better for your site to just load a graphic, that will then load the system when a customer actually clicks on it – because by that point you know they want to use it.

Every small reduction in the server requests you can make on your site is helpful – a 0.1 second here and there can make a massive difference to the overall speed of your website. Lazy loading can be used for images, widgets, video content – and when you apply it to the 1000s of assets across your site, those 0.1 seconds really start to add up.

Join our workshop?

This month we’re hosting an invite-only workshop for eCommerce merchants exploring this topic in-depth – as well as cutting through technical jargon to demystify performance, attendees will come away knowing their site’s performance score, and how to fix it if it’s not up to scratch. If you’d like to attend, email to request an invite.