Interested in doubling your conversions? Attracting more customers to your eCommerce site? Or what about creating more and more return customers? These are all questions with an obvious answer but the steps in order to achieve these goals sometimes aren’t as obvious. We’ve written out a helpful guide in order to help boost the performance of your eCommerce site and get your business on the right track to meet its short and long term goals.
1. Find a Host That You Can Depend On
Your eCommerce website is only as good as the foundation it’s built on and the way customers interact with your site is imperative to whether or not you can make a conversion. Customers expect a site to perform to a certain standard and when that standard isn’t met you can expect negative results.
It is imperative that your site operates properly on days when traffic is up and you’re hitting record conversions. Having a hosting platform that offers adequate service makes all the difference in the performance of your eCommerce site. When it comes time for those key sales periods you do not want to be left in the dust with a down website and missed sales.
When looking for a hosting service make sure that you are familiar with their memory limits along with their peak user load so that your site can stay functioning when you need it. Also, make sure you are knowledgeable with their support services. Having 24-hour support is incredibly important in case something goes awry. Be mindful of their security measures as well. Since money is being exchanged through your site you want to make sure adequate safety measures are in place.
If you are in the market, Shopify is a great option for hosting and has a proven track record of supporting its customers and helping them improve sales through seamless hosting performance. According to Shopify, their overall uptime clocks in at 99.98%. Shopify is also extremely safe for customers and businesses to use. They exceed all of the security categories placed by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). So you can be confident that everything is secure when your customers access your site.
For those interested in making the move to the Shopify platform or already using it, our eCommerce team at Harlo are standing by to help your site reach its maximum potential! Feel free to drop us a line here and we can get a conversation going and start creating some digital goodness.
2. Need for Speed
Successful eCommerce sites not only require reliable hosting, but their hosting platform needs to be fast. Site speed can be monitored and improved by a few different steps that I’ll include in this list, but first and foremost your site’s hosting foundation must be strong.
Shopify offers a feature for users called Storefront Renderer. SFR improves site speed by changing the way that read requests are served as well as improving cache misses. According to Shopify, some of their users have seen a 17% increase in their conversion rate, 15% increase in revenue as well as a 37.95% decrease in server response time.
3. Going Global with a Content Delivery Network
According to a collection of case studies by Skilled:
79% of customers who find issues with website performance most likely will not return.
64% of customers who are using their smartphones expect a website to load in no more than 4 seconds.
47% of customers who shop online expect websites to fully load in no more than 2 seconds.
In order to keep up with the needs of your customers you may want to consider using a Content Delivery Network, or “CDN” for short. CDN’s are a network of servers that are distributed all around the globe in order to provide users with a fast and efficient online experience. CDN’s take all the content from your site and direct them towards the server closest to your customer’s location.
Shopify is the first eCommerce platform to provide its users with a CDN. Shopify’s CDN, run by Fastly, allows seamless performance from all over the globe, allowing you to provide a reliable experience for customers from Brooklyn to Beijing.
4. Implement Google PageSpeed Insights
It’s important to take advantage of the tools that are provided to you. When it comes to website performance, Google has provided a couple great options to help you make sure your site is up to snuff.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights allows its users to test both desktop and mobile speeds all while providing helpful tips on optimization. Users will receive an overall score rating their site’s speed as well as suggestions ranging from the removal of unused code to images that could be encoded more efficiently. Seems like a no-brainer, right?
5. Use a Tag Management System
The data you collect from your customers is worth its weight in gold. Without it, your digital marketing and eCommerce strategies would be seriously lacking. However, collecting that data can slow your site down - or even cause it to go down completely.
Tag Manager is another helpful tool from Google that users can implement to boost site performance. This tag management system allows users to easily add tags to their site and manage them through an easy online interface.
6. Compress Those Images
Since we’re on the subject of speed, another simple option for keeping your eCommerce site blazingly fast is making sure your image content is compressed down to a manageable size. Images on a website can be deceiving. At times they may appear small, giving the impression that the file size reflects its dimensions, but that can’t be farther from the truth. Larger file sizes translate to slower load times which can really put your eCommerce site’s performance in a rut.
When it comes to compressing images for your site there are 3 factors to keep in mind:
Image Size - how much data is contained within any given file.
Image Dimensions - the length and width of an image, which is measured in pixels.
Image Resolution - measured in PPI, pixels per inch, this shows us the overall quality or resolution associated with any given image.
Knowing these values is important to keep things running smoothly. Consistent file sizes and dimensions are an easy way to boost speed. Keeping your file size smaller than 70 KB is a good goal to shoot for. If you are using Photoshop, make sure you click “Save for Web” and save those pretty pictures as a JPEG file.
If you’re not using Photoshop, there are some quick and easy solutions available for you to use. Sites like Squoosh, ImageOptim, and RIOT are great options and they’re free!
7. Reduce Your Page Size
Now that we mentioned the importance of monitoring the file size of your images, let’s look at the big picture - your site as a whole. Every single file and element on your page has a determined file size. Once added all up, those file sizes will determine your overall page size. Keep the kilobytes down when you are designing the pages that make up your site.
Average page size hovers around the 1.966 MB mark for desktops and around 1.778 MB for mobile. According to Google, for optimal performance pages should be closer to the 0.5 MB mark. Like previously mentioned, compression of your image files will help you reach those ideal sizes. It is also important to remember that it’s not only images and video that can weigh your site down - special fonts and unused code can also do some damage as well.
It’s also important to remember that page size doesn’t just affect the speed of your site, your SEO ranking can be affected as well. So be sure to monitor those file sizes if you want to continue to improve your SEO rankings and reach more customers.
8. Clean Up Your Code with Code Minification
Those helpful folks over at Google are always figuring out ways to make our lives easier. With all the handy analytical tools they’ve created you would think they would be done? No. Say hello to another easy, no-brainer tool developed over at Google - code minification.
Think of it as a digital, fine-toothed comb. When you use a code minifier you are going through and removing anything redundant, unused, or that could be simplified. This will help clean up that source code and keep your site working like the fine tuned machine it should be.
If you are using the Shopify platform they already minify your SCSS.liquid code for you. They also provide whitespace controlling tags as well to help keep your code slim and performing at its best.
9. Get Started on a Blog
Performance isn’t just about speed, uptime, or overall efficiency. It can also be measured by how well your eCommerce site is attracting customers and creating conversions. Starting a blog can be an easy way to generate traffic to your site and open up a line of dialogue with your customers. If your content is well thought out and interesting, you can turn visitors into paying customers.
Blogging is also an easy way to boost your site’s SEO, otherwise known as Search Engine Optimization. If you have better SEO, then chances are you’ll attract more visitors to your site due to it showing up in more search queries.
When writing for your blog, try focusing each post on a keyword or keywords that your target audience is attracted to. You can also link to multiple pages in your post which helps keep users engaged and interested in the rest of your content. Also be sure to create completely unique content when writing for your blog - refrain from using text or content that has already appeared somewhere on your website. Finally, make sure your content is easy to digest. Smaller sentences and an easier readability will help improve your SEO.
10. Create Good Content and be Mindful of those Keywords
You might want to consider going beyond the blog posts and create other forms of content for potential customers to experience on your site. Blog posts are a great place to start but the addition of videos, helpful product guides, infographics, and other forms of media will take the overall experience of your eCommerce store to the next level.
Good content not only keeps your audience captivated but it can also help your site’s SEO ranking. It’s important to keep in mind the keywords that you use when you start thinking about content marketing. Using the right keywords will help place your site in the correct search engine results. You can determine what keywords to use by simply conducting keyword research through programs like KeywordsFX.
Harlo and Shopify
At Harlo, we are a leading Shopify Agency and Solutions Partner. We devise meaningful eCommerce sites that help our clients take their businesses to the next level of success. Being Portland’s leading Shopify Agency, we’ve worked with small start-ups to well-known brands - both local and international. If you’re curious about some of our projects you can check them out here. The combination of our design and development skills paired with the world’s leading eCommerce platform have helped our clients grow by focusing on their own brand and leaving the technical side to Harlo and Shopify.
To reach your long term and short term business goals, it's important that your eCommerce site is functioning at peak performance. Shopify has many tools for users to take advantage of that can help you make those conversions and leave your customers satisfied with their online shopping experience. Their reliable and fast hosting, use of a Content Delivery Network, and automatic code minification will leave your site running like a Swiss watch.
If you are not on the Shopify platform you’re not out of luck. Simple solutions like code minification, Google analytics, image compression, and reducing overall page size will help you reach the next level of site performance. You don’t have to exclusively use Shopify to take advantage of these tips. However, many of these tips are contained within Shopify’s platform.
Now that you’ve learned a few tips and tricks, run a preflight check on your site and make sure you are implementing the best practices. A little can go a long way and sometimes easy fixes and changes can lead to drastic results. Your overall goal should be to keep your site running at its best. If you do this, you can be satisfied that you are operating at the best of your ability and taking your eCommerce site to the next level. If you need a little more expertise and you’re interested in getting a conversation going with our eCommerce team, feel free to reach us here so we can start creating some digital goodness!