For all the glitz and glamour of ecommerce – the flashy launches, beautiful website designs, and expensive influencer campaigns – it really comes down to a simple game of numbers: Visitors x Conversion Rate x Lifetime Value = Revenue. As the holiday season approaches, it’s only natural that ecommerce operators will begin to review the key pieces of this equation to best understand how to drive value in Q4. And, with Shopify’s timely launch of their native speed report, there’s never been a better time to include your site speed in your end-of-year audit. The numbers are clear: your conversion rate decreases by an average of 1.2% for every additional second it takes for your website to load. 47% of customers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less, and if they’re waiting beyond 6 seconds…good luck converting them at all!
Once you’re firmly into the deep end of the world of ecommerce, it’s often impossible to take your brand-owner hat off even when you’re shopping online. As operators, when we click down a paid social funnel, our eyes are trained to pop at high-level decisions – awkward copy, garish colour schemes, unclear product positioning – but in our excitement to tear into the meat of a brand’s strategy, we sometimes forget to pay attention to the little moments that lead up to the grand unveiling. If I was actually shopping right now, would I stick around to dig into the site? Can I find what I’m looking for? What am I looking for?
When you look through this lens, an overlooked feeling to note is what happens as soon as you land on a site. Specifically: how many things are triggered as soon as you land on the homepage? Intuitively brand owners know that they need a pop-up for email collection, a pop-up for support, and perhaps a pop-up for social proof – but they often forget how damaging these can be to the customer experience if they all occur before the shopper even has a chance to explore the product offering. Instead of pop-up ads for email collection, perhaps you can shift to exit-intent ads; instead of chat support as soon as the shopper lands on the homepage, you can offer it on the product page; and instead of social proof pop-ups, you can consider review badges elsewhere on the site. One of the easiest ways to optimize site speed (and, tangentially, reduce your bounce rate) is to reduce or stagger the applets that are triggered at site load. Speaking of apps…
One of Shopify’s greatest advantages as an ecommerce platform is its ability to offer a comprehensive third-party app marketplace. Instead of spreading their engineering team thin and being forced to develop every ecommerce capability natively, they’re able to follow the “Pareto Principle”: build world-class software for the 20% of ecommerce situations that covers 80% of what merchants actually want to accomplish. For the fringes that they don’t cover, they lean on app developers that specialize in niche areas. This strategy, however, comes with a price. As store operators lean more and more heavily on easy app installs for core business problems, it becomes easy to lose track of which apps are still driving value for your store. Without clear success heuristics – especially if app costs are negligible – some operators may unknowingly bloat their app list to the point of severely slowing down their website. Even when you uninstall an app, it’s not guaranteed that you’ve entirely removed the associated code from your liquid templates.
Effective ecommerce operators should have a clear success metric tied to every app installed on their store, and measure against it on a recurring basis. By following a clear process, you’re able to prevent app bloat from slowing down your store, and ultimately harming your bottom line. If you’re reading this now as a Shopify store owner – go audit your app list!
In the absence of any opportunity to actually touch and feel a product, it makes sense the ecommerce stores lean heavily on multimedia experiences to drive comfort. Augmented reality and virtual reality are going to be a gamechanger for how customers visualize online purchases in their homes! But as brand owners lean more and more heavily on media on their site, they need to be conscious of its impact on site speed. This can vary from simple compression solutions like TinyPNG or JPEGmini, all the way to more complex site restructuring like lazy loading.
Ultimately, as an ecommerce operator, these are all powerful ways to reactively improve site speed within Shopify. In order to be proactive, however, it might be time to step outside of your native options. The Shopify Theme store is perhaps one of the most impressive collections of beautiful website designs – responsive, customizable, and scalable – but beyond a certain point, the templates are inherently limited because they are designed to be broadly used by anyone who has access to the theme store. As a rapidly scaling business that has the added complexities of apps and liquid customizations, you can very quickly approach a point where it makes sense to consider a custom theme build: replicate micro-apps natively in your code, load content in ways that make sense for your brand and design a customer journey that works for your story.
If you want to dive deeper on site speed and custom Shopify theme builds, get in touch today for a free consultation.