How are leading eCommerce businesses optimizing for site speed in 2019? What build and design techniques are they implementing to stay ahead of the curve and deliver fast, flexible, and consistent experiences to consumers?
We took at look at a select group of over 30 leading eCommerce stores, and analyzed them for Eight key site speed optimization techniques. What we found reveals several opportunities for new and established eCommerce stores to get ahead.
96% of eCommerce Stores Are Not Considering Site Speed
In our test group, the number of sites that didn’t meet Google site speed requirements for both desktop and mobile was staggering. It’s surprising that only 4% made the effort to optimize their site speed, considering eCommerce stores are often battling it out for top spot in search engine results, and site speed being a ranking factor.
One of the reasons we’re seeing such a low number may be changes Google have made to their page speed tool in the last year. There is now a much larger focus on time to interact and first render, with older devices suffering under the hardware requirements of newer sites.
If you’re looking for a way to get ahead of the competition on the results page, optimizing your site’s speed may be how you do it.
60% of Merchants Think Uptime is the Most Important Concern
Beating out site speed, uptime is the most important concern for over 60% of businesses in the eCommerce space. This may be the reason why only 4% of stores in our sample met Google’s site speed standards, with many fearing unstable environments and user experiences with newer technology.
Uptime is an important metric, and it does take precedence over a lot of other factors you’ll find on your site. However, it is also important to keep your store modern and meet consumer expectations for speed and flexibility.
65% of Stores Do Not Use Lazy Loading
Lazy loading allows you to first pull low-resolution images and then replace them with higher-resolutions images once page content has been loaded. It is a great method for easing server load and optimizing content delivery.
While we’re only seeing 35% of stores implementing lazy loading, we’ve noticed this number has steadily increased over the past few years as more eCommerce developers have become aware of it. Consider implementing in your site build to improve site speed and user experience.
85% of Stores Do Not Use Hero Image Carousels
Hero image carousels are image slideshows that alternate between multiple images. They have long been the bane of site speed for two reasons. One, they require multiple high-resolution images. Two, they are usually situated at the top of the home page. These two factors can combine to make home page loads take a lot longer than they should.
It’s not surprising then, that 85% of stores have opted to remove them from their site. The stores that did implement them did not provide full page width images and only used a handful of slides. The hero image carousel is going away. If you’re still using one on your site, it may be time to rethink this part of your design.
77% of Stores Have a Responsive Site
Responsive sites are the norm. Over the last several years, site owners have continued to optimize their site designs for mobile users, and in several cases even offered offline apps.
What shocked us about this statistic is that 33% of sites do not have a responsive site. This is despite numerous warnings from Google, and more than a few metrics showing how many B2C consumers are using mobile devices. In the Asian Pacific, numbers indicate that over 75% of consumers used their mobile to make a purchase in 2018.
100% of Stores Have Not “Appified” Their Web-Based Store
Headless applications are here and with them has come the ability to make content and websites available offline. Instead of adding an app to multiple app stores, users can now save a website to their desktop for access at a later date (when they don’t have an internet connection).
However, none of the sites we surveyed have done this. One reason for the lack of adoption here may be that it’s such new technology, larger eCommerce sites don’t feel that all the kinks have been worked out. Alternatively, they may feel that it’s not a well-know feature and so wouldn’t deliver enough ROI on development costs… yet.
If you’re a smaller eCommerce store and are looking for something to differentiate your brand, and have considered taking a headless approach to eCommerce, see if appifying your site is the right way forward.
69% of Stores Have a Downloadable App
Despite no merchants having appified their web-based stores, 69% of eCommerce business have created and offer a downloadable app for either Android, IOS, or both. This is likely in an effort to keep up with consumer requirements without going too far out of established practices with an appified web-based store.
If you have the development resources, it’s recommended that you create an app for your store. However, there is also a lot of potential for appified web-based stores. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, that may be the better option.
58% of Stores Have a Multi-Step Checkout Process
Multi-step checkout processes are where the checkout process is divided between several pages. Historically, this has been a popular option for eCommerce stores, so consumers are accustomed to it. Moreover, despite having multiple pages, the process is usually kept short so consumers are not turned away by a lengthy checkout.
However, the one-step checkout has increased in popularity. More stores are offering consumers the ability to make instant purchases with just a few clicks of a button. A single-step checkout may become a differentiator between eCommerce stores in the coming years.
76% of Stores Offer a Desktop Search Bar But Only 36% Offer One on Mobile
Metrics have shown that site search is an important eCommerce store addition. Searchers are 200% more likely to convert. Yet despite this high number, only 36% of eCommerce stores in our survey offered a search bar on mobile devices.
One reason for this may be that the stores lacked a dedicated search engine. In the past, search has often remained unoptimized and more of an afterthought. However, with search offerings such as Elasticsearch making it more powerful than ever before, it may be time to start implementing search in both mobile and desktop views.
The Top eCommerce Stats
These nine stats give valuable insight into how eCommerce merchants are managing their sites in 2019 and optimizing for speed. While speed is clearly a concern, statistics like Uptime beat it out in almost every scenario. An increasing number of merchants are sticking with what they have, instead of adopting new technologies appearing on the scene such as headless. This may, in part, be due to worries about instability.
Merchants should be looking to compete in the area of site speed, and there are multiple opportunities and best practices for doing so. Merchants should implement lazy loading, remove hero image carousels, make sure their site is responsive, and conduct frequent audits through Google’s toolset.
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