As all online retailers know, customer experience is a primary focus in eCommerce. Customers and their digital experiences are the drivers of revenue, but many retailers don’t understand the elements of the customer experience that bring this revenue in. Speed presents itself as one of the primary elements that lead to an overall enjoyable interaction for the customer.
In order to understand speed and its effect on customers, retailers must first understand the difference between site speed and page speed. Understanding the difference between site speed and page speed is important to grasp when evaluating speed as a whole. Site speed directly influences all the pages on a site, whereas page speed is only specific to that one particular page. It’s important to consider both when evaluating overall performance and in this post we will focus on 3 important reasons why you should care about speed and performance.
Customers Expect More from Their Digital Experiences
Today, consumers aren’t as patient with their digital experiences as they used to be. For instance, the expectations of an in-store experience versus an online experience—when a customer enters a store there are certain allowances that a customer will make or things that the customer feels are just “part of the experience”. Maybe the line takes longer because the store is busy or the color they want has to be ordered because they are out of stock in the store. These are things that a customer prepares themselves for when they choose to shop in person.
So when a customer chooses to shop online instead of going into a store, their hope is to avoid those issues that they commonly encounter inside of the store. They are looking for convenience. Customers have little to no patience for a bad experience on your website (even more so on mobile experiences). The digital experience should be easier, smoother, and faster than going to the store and when the reality doesn’t meet the expectation, it can lead to major customer frustration, which results in you losing money.
Time Means Money
Studies show that for every additional second your site takes to load (especially on mobile), your business loses money. Slower page load times directly correlate with page abandonment, thus, for every second you could be losing thousands of dollars. Using a tool like Google’s Speed Scorecard Tool, you can easily plug in your information and see what kind of money you could be losing. You could be surprised to learn that you could buy a brand new BMW with the money you lose per month due to your site speed woes. Furniture retailer Zitmaxx Wonen reduced their typical load time to 3 seconds and saw conversion jump 50.2% with their overall revenue from the mobile site increasing by 98.7%. This is just one study in a sea of hundreds that say the same thing. At this point, the truth is undeniable.
Speed Affects Your SEO
Google has indicated (albeit unofficially) that site speed (and as a result, page speed) is one of the factors in their ranking algorithm. According to research done by Moz, the data shows that Google could be taking Time to First Byte (TTFB) into account when it considers page speed. So what is Time to First Byte (TTFB) you ask? According to Moz,
“This metric captures how long it takes your browser to receive the first byte of a response from a web server when you request a particular URL. In other words, this metric encompasses the network latency of sending your request to the web server, the amount of time the web server spent processing and generating a response, and amount of time it took to send the first byte of that response back from the server to your browser.”
Think of it this way too, when your pages load slowly, that means that the Googlebot has to crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget, and this could affect how many pages are indexed and therefore how many pages are ranked in Google’s results. No one wants that.
You can look at your own site’s metrics by running a test on your web pages at WebPageTest.org and see for yourself.
The performance of digital experiences is essential. It’s easy to see the mountains of evidence available by just searching for “why is site speed important”. But the next question is what do we do about it?. It can be simple to see what is wrong, but more challenging to understand what we have to do to fix the issues before us.
Our suggestion is simple, perform an audit. Audits can be a great way to get a full picture of how your site is performing and what areas need improvement. A good audit goes beyond the reports you can generate form online tools. A truly comprehensive audit takes time and patience. Audits should be performed by those who have a deep technical understanding and have extensive experience in the digital space. Our suggestion is to find a professional third-party agency to perform this audit. Have them go deep and provide you with a real roadmap to making improvements. Making decisions is so much easier when you have all of the information.