A 1 second delay on your page load can cause a 7% reduction in conversions. How do you solve it?

A slow e-commerce site can damage your sales figures. Akamai research shows that a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. If you sell £500 per day, that's nearly £13k per year.

In addition to this, it's been shown that 40% of visitors will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

If that still hasn't convinced you, Google is increasingly using page load speed as a measure in search rankings.

The thinking here is that Google wants you to find the page you are looking for as quick as possible. If your site is slow to load, this impacts the Google user experience. For this reason, fast sites are rewarded by Google in terms of rankings, meaning more click throughs and more potential customers land on your site.

The infographic

E-commerce page speed load infographic

Source: KISSmetrics

Stop losing sales! What to do about it...

  • Ensure your server has enough capacity (RAM and processor) and consider upgrading if not. Use a good quality provider like RackSpace.
  • Check that HTML validates well as this can slow down page render time.
  • Make extensive use of caching, especially for content that is the same for all visitors. You could consider Memcache for this.
  • Ensure images are saved at the size you want to display them. You can do this manually but ideally your content management system will do it for you.
  • Minimize javascripts and CSS and compress them in to as few a file as possible. Again, some content management systems will do this for you.
  • Use content delivery networks where possible to delivery common libraries like jQuery.
  • Defer javascript where possible - this means putting it at the end of the page so it does not block the rendering of the page.
  • Switch on compression on your web server and enable Keep-Alive for resources wherever possible.
  • Try installing Google PageSpeed for your web server.
  • Reduce the size of your HTML pages, clean up your site and remove unwanted elements.

A good starting point is Google PageSpeed Insights, which gives you scores on a few aspects of loading speed optimisation. The Pingdom speed checker is also a good tool and shows you how your site compares with other sites.


About the author

Alex is a founder at WeMakeWebsites and an international speaker on ecommerce. He teaches the ecommerce course at General Assembly and The Guardian, and has spoken about ecommerce at Google, Top Drawer and London College of Fashion. WeMakeWebsites build beautiful and effective online stores for creative retail companies, you can view recent examples of our Shopify work here.

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