Conversion Optimization

Smart Ways To Speed Up Your eCommerce Store (Top 5 Platforms Covered)

Site speed optimization has to be a top priority for you to drive conversions—this piece covers fast loading tactics we've used for clients across the top 5 eCommerce platforms

Smart Ways To Speed Up Your eCommerce Store (Top 5 Platforms Covered)

If you’re here to read this, you would’ve already figured out why site speed is such a big deal in eCommerce. 

In a study, they found that websites that load in a single second have an average conversion rate that’s 3X higher than websites that load in 5 seconds or more. 

And that’s why we’ll first look into why else a great speed is non negotiable for eCommerce stores followed by what stores can do to optimize site speed across the 5 major hosting platforms:

How to speed up your Shopify store

How to speed up your BigCommerce store

How to speed up your Magento 2 store

How to speed up your WooCommerce store

How to speed up your NetSuite store

Here we go!

eCommerce Site Speed Optimization: Ideas For 5 Top Platforms

How to speed up your Shopify store

1. Select a responsive theme

To reduce your Shopify bounce rate, you need to use a fast and responsive theme. 

Since many store owners ask us, ‘Which Shopify theme loads fastest?’, here’s a list:

  • Prestige Theme
  • Flex 
  • Turbo 
  • Shoptimized
  • Boostertheme
  • Shella
  • Fastor 
  • Debutify

2. Get rid of excessive pop-ups

Yes, pop-ups are great. 

Every Shopify marketer recommends it to get more leads. 

However, many shoppers find it annoying. 

Pop-ups can slow down your Shopify page speed if it has to load images or different elements (e.g., countdown timer). 

Now, we are not saying get rid of all pop-ups

Instead, apply a pop-up teaser to speed up Shopify website.

3. Go for the hero banner, ditch the carousel

A recent report shows that only 1% of people click on a slider. 

Additionally, sliders and carousels take more time to load and have a negative impact on Google's ability to crawl a site. 

Therefore, a featured hero image can speed up Shopify websites.

4. Remove “quick view” from category pages

A quick-view pop-up can sometimes pre-load the information from an entire product page in case a visitor clicks the “Quick View” button.

This slows down the Shopify site speed and decreases Shopify’s category page load time.  

So, how can you remove the quick view feature?

  • Check your theme customizer 
  • Review your apps 

However, if part of the theme itself, you’ll need a developer to identify and remove it. 

5. Optimize product listing pages

A report shows that:

  • For desktop sites, it’s generally safe to load between 100–150 products.
  • For mobile sites, fewer products should be loaded, typically between 15 and 30 products.
  • For search results, a lowered threshold is typically warranted, but ideally, the threshold is instead dynamic for search and based on any sudden drop in relevancy score within the search results.

To circumvent issues with Shopify site speed, use a combination of a “Load More” button and lazy-loading to load products onto the listing page as shoppers scroll down. 

For more methods, read: How to Speed Up Shopify Website - 17 Practical Ideas

How to speed up your BigCommerce store

1. Get rid of render-blocking scripts

To know which scripts to eliminate, start by CTRL+Shift+Refresh to see how a page is loading and how it’s getting styled once the full of it gradually begins to show. 

The next step is to try and load blocking resources in an asynchronous way so that your BigCommerce page speed doesn’t suffer. 

Also, inlining of the elements you don’t want render-blocking scripts to affect helps. 

2. Fall back on lazy loading

Apart from image optimization, BigCommerce page speed optimization requires you to do lazy loading as well. 

The idea of lazy loading is to defer loading heavier elements on a page so that faster and more necessary elements can load right away. 

This avoids the critical rendering path (the number of steps the browser takes to turn scripts into screen pixels) from becoming long and bulky. 

Ensure you avoid lazy loading on all above the fold sections across your website. 

3. Clean up your navigation menus

One big culprit of page speed slowing down for BigCommerce stores is lengthy and unnecessarily in-depth menus

The major problem often is too many top-level main categories. 

A workaround is to limit the number of top-level categories (such as “shoes”, “bags” etc.) and instead merge related categories to form wider parent categories. 

4. Make use of product filtering

This is as functional as it gets because with the right filtering system, your BigCommerce store actually loads much faster. 

The logic is simple: because shoppers can use filtering to pick only a few of the criteria among all the criteria applicable to all products, only limited elements at any point in time need to load. 

This instantly frees up server bandwidth and makes requests efficient too. 

5. Switch from Blueprint to Stencil

When you’re using Stencil, a number of things will ensure your web pages load faster:

- The theme offers adequate Google AMP support

- It automatically optimizes images

- It features YAML Front Matter (for faster rendering)

- It supports rich snippets (helping search engines read pages faster)

For more ideas, read: 17 Proven Ways to Speed Up your BigCommerce Store

How to speed up your Magento 2 store

1. Manually update the indexers

Reindexing Magento 2’s indexers becomes crucial if you want to keep up a higher site speed. 

Though the core system updates the indexers automatically, it’s best to do it manually due to some inherent system flaws. 

On Magento 2, run the CLI command below in the root directory with the help of the SSH terminal:

php bin/magento indexer:reindex

For instance, you can develop an indexer for product labels. 

Magento 2 stores often use label tags to reflect a product's advantages (its properties, if it's in stock or on a discount, etc.). 

One page can have several sliders with 20 or 50 products. In this case, labels are recalculated for each product.

Since these labels are updated once a day or based on certain actions, you can make an indexer that'll save the calculated labels for each product. 

Recalculation could occur once a day, or if it deals with warehouse updates, you can call the reindex of one record when the number of items in the warehouse changes.

2. Disable Flat Catalog Category

Magento 2 no longer recommends flat catalogs due to indexing and performance issues.

Before disabling the feature, it is important to check all extensions that are required to work with the flat catalogs. 

To speed up Magento 2 website, disable Flat Catalogs:

  • Navigate to Stores → Configuration → Catalog.
  • Expand the Storefront section.
  • Set No in the Use Flat Category and the Use Flat Catalog Product fields.

3. Keep your Magento 2 store updated

Magento 2 releases new versions of the CMS almost every three months. 

Each release solves multiple bugs and security fixes. 

Additionally, Magento 2 also ceases to support older versions by certain dates. 

Therefore, sticking to an older version is futile and only slows down your website. 

When this blog is published (October 2023), the latest and most optimized version is 2.4.6-p2.

You can keep track of Magento versions here

Note the dates of support end times so you can plan your migration and update the Magento 2 store accordingly. 

4. Delete unnecessary fonts

What most Magento 2 store owners don’t realize is that fonts can reduce page loading speed even if they are not used.

Sometimes, when you add some custom font to the <head> section of the page configuration file. 

Even if the font is used or not, it will be loaded anyway.

So, to speed up Magento 2, delete unused fonts. 

5. Implement Varnish cache

Magento 2 Varnish is a cache designed to accelerate content-heavy dynamic pages to improve the overall performance of Magento 2 stores. 

Here’s how to configure Varnish cache on your Magento 2 site:

If you choose the Varnish option in the Caching Application field, complete the Varnish Configuration section as the following instructions:

Step 1: In the Access list field, enter the IP addresses, and IPs access list separated with ',' that can purge Varnish configuration for config file generation. If the field is empty default value localhost will be saved.

Step 2: In the Backend host field, enter the IP address of the backend host that generates config files. The default value is localhost

Step 3: In the Backend port field, identify the backend port that is used to generate config files. The default value is: 8080

Step 4: In the Export Configuration field, click the button for the version of Varnish that you use.

  • Export VCL for Varnish 3
  • Export VCL for Varnish 3

Step 5: When complete, click Save Config

For more tips, read: How to Speed Up Magento 2 Site - 19 Proven Ideas

How to speed up your WooCommerce store

1. Update themes and plugins

We don’t recommend enabling auto-updates to avoid new feature compatibility issues with your store. 

So to manually update your themes and plugins on WooCommerce, download the most updated version on your account dashboard.

Rename the theme folder on your server and then upload it from your WordPress dashboard.

Please upgrade your WordPress to the latest version before doing this.

2. Choose a high-quality hosting service

The service you choose to host your WooCommerce site will decide how well your files and other web-related data will be stored. 

Pick a hosting service that’s been designed keeping WooCommerce in mind. 

These types of services usually have extra features or processors. We recommend using GoDaddy, SiteGround, or Kinsta hosting service.

Also if you’re migrating from a shared hosting plan or worried about getting the right hosting service, start by looking at the reviews. 

See what other stores are saying on review sites, Trustpilot, Facebook groups and more.

3. Prevent brute force attacks

Brute force is when hackers try to break into an eCommerce site either through random password guessing or other methods. 

Because of the magnitude of requests sent through log-in attempts to your servers, it can lead to a slow WooCommerce load time. 

A very solid way to prevent these attacks is by adding a DNS firewall plugin that’ll block out any bad requests coming in. One you can try out is Scuri or even Cloudflare.

You can also use multi-factor authentication for your admin login and set up Captcha to kick out the bots from accessing your store.

4. Reduce the number of plugins

Since plugins are notorious for their frequent HTTP requests, we recommend keeping it under six if you’re on a shared hosting plan.

If you’re on your own hosting service, use at most 20 to optimize WooCommerce speed. 

Remember, with plugins, it’s never about how many. It’s about the quality. So look for those that are highly compatible with WooCommerce, reliable and have low-security threats.

5. Update PHP version & increase memory limit

Since updating to the latest PHP engine version (PHP 8.0) might result in other compatibility issues, we recommend first updating to a staging environment before pushing to production.

You can do this directly from your web server host.

Once you update your PHP version, you need to increase your store’s memory.

You can do this by either contacting your web host company or changing lines in your PHP code.

For more advice, read: 11 Tested Ways to Speed Up your WooCommerce Store

How to speed up your NetSuite store

1. Leverage scheduled searches

Pulling up data results invariably causes NetSuite server issues. 

Data queries can especially be draining on the processing speed during high-traffic season.

A workaround is to save a search and then have it run on a schedule when there’s less traffic. 

To do this: go to Reports > Saved Searches > All Saved Searches > New

2. Audit your applications & integrations

Applications and integrations work together to make your NetSuite store’s aesthetic better. 

However, because they end up sending SOAP web service requests, they can end up slowing down your site. 

To avoid this, use your integration records to audit these apps and integrations. 

Visit your account > go to setup > click on “manage integrations” to uninstall apps not in use. 

3. Prioritize pop-up lists over dropdowns

Pop-up lists are faster and more efficient than dropdowns because they automatically filter records based on the search you enter. 

This is particularly helpful when you have a ton of values you can’t possibly comb through.

To enable pop-ups, simply visit the preferences section under Home. 

The best part is that it’ll be dynamic. So when the values are small, a dropdown shows. 

However, when there are too many options, it automatically switches to a pop-up list.

4. Get rid of dated data

You don’t need the details of all the products you sold years ago.

 If anything they will just contribute to NetSuite performance issues. 

Similar to the way you review your applications, review the data you currently have stored. 

We recommend storing catalog data for only one year at most. 

For more ways, read: 10 Verified Ways to Speed Up Your NetSuite eCommerce Store

Why is site speed optimization crucial for eCommerce stores? 

Apart from creating lower conversions, an affected site speed will also mean:

Low dwell time

Dwell time measures the length of time when a shopper lands up on your eCommerce store till when they choose to navigate away to a different site. 

A high dwell time typically indicates that the shopper is able to find what they’re looking for and engage more as a result. It also indicates that your site is probably loading super fast. 

On the other hand, a low dwell time could indicate frustrated shoppers who run out of patience because your site loads too slowly. 

High bounce rate

While a high bounce rate in eCommerce is typically associated with broken homepage or product page content, poor site speed is also a factor. 

If you’re finding a very high percentage of visitors bouncing away from your eCommerce homepage, it’s time to run a site speed test. 

When page and site speed contribute to shoppers bouncing off, it’s likely that they won’t come back anticipating a slow speed next time as well. 

Poor search rankings

A poor site speed has always been directly associated with Google giving lower search rankings. 

Now this is because Google gives high precedence to UX, and page speed is an important factor that makes or breaks it. 

Typically, sites that load pages slower than two seconds get lower rankings from the search engine—and this naturally impacts discoverability for eCommerce brands, leading to poorer turnover. 

7 critical factors that affect page speed across platforms 

No matter which eCommerce platform you use to host your site, there are certain factors that generally impact page and site speed across the board—here we’ll look at the 7 most critical factors:

1. Choice of hosting provider

Depending on which hosting provider an eCommerce business chooses, they will see ease or limitation in bandwidth and traffic allowance. 

In other words, the lesser the bandwidth the slower the rate of data transfer between your website’s server and your visitors. Traffic capacity, on the other hand, suggests the number of visitors your eCommerce store can handle at any given time. 

If your hosting provider has a stringent traffic limit, it might cause your website to load slowly on a normal day—and this can have an even more adverse effect in the high-traffic season. 

2. Quantity & quality of plugins

eCommerce stores are able to onboard new features oftentimes because of plugins. 

But too many of them, and you have the problem of a slow loading website. 

Along with the quantity of plugins, the quality also has a bearing on your website speed—because incompatible plugins can interfere with the smooth backend working of an eCommerce store, leading it to load slowly and poorly. 

3. Too many third party apps

If your eCommerce store has too many third party apps, your website speed slowing down is inevitable. 

Firstly, third party apps can develop conflicts among each other. 

They can also stop your web pages from rendering correctly, leading to content not loading as it should. 

Some of your third party apps may also be running on bulky code, which creates loading delays. 

4.  Too many heavy images

Unoptimized images may become too heavy for your eCommerce store to load. 

This is especially true when images haven’t been sized to a precise aspect ratio and compressed to a specific quality score—typically images that are over 200kb become bulky to load. 

This can add to the problem of undefined assets per web page, which generally indicate heavy content comprising unoptimized text, graphics and images. 

5. Too many HTTP requests

Another reason your eCommerce store may be facing speed issues is countless HTTP requests. 

Now these can happen because of several reasons including too many images, too many CSS or JavaScript files or even too many pop-ups. 

Due to an overload of such content, every time a visitor arrives on the site, the browser ends up making too many HTTP requests to the server. 

6. Broken links & redirects

While broken links in regular website text content may not be as much of a problem, they become a slowing down factor when contained in code or image URLs. 

To deal with them, some stores come up with redirects, but even these can cause website speed to slow down. The more redirects get added to a chain, the more it takes for a website to respond to a visitor’s request.

7. Non-use of Content Delivery Network (CDN)

The greater the distance where the server stores your eCommerce store’s content and where the visitor is, the more time it takes for loading. 

This is what a Content Delivery Network—a group of servers that work together to deliver content to website visitors in the fastest possible way—enables. 

Research has in fact proven that websites that don’t use a CDN tend to suffer from 50% more load times. 

10 critical site speed statistics for 2023

1. 1 second extra loading time can lead to 11% fewer page views 

2. Bounces increase by 32% when load time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds

3. Sites for lead gen that load within a second enjoy conversion rates of 39%

4. The average speed of a first-page Google result is about 1.65 seconds

5. When the load time is 2 seconds, visitors browse 8.9 pages while when it’s 8 seconds, they browse only 3.3 pages

6. 70% of shoppers say page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online store

7. Optimized websites save their shoppers about 23 seconds per journey

8. Pages seem to load 71% faster on desktop than on mobile

9. Lighter pages load 487% faster than heavier pages

10. 44% will share their poor web loading experience with loved ones, leading to a drop in direct traffic to a site

Before you go...

98% of visitors who visit an eCommerce site—drop off without buying anything.

Why: user experience issues that cause friction for visitors.

And this is the problem Convertcart solves.

We've helped 500+ eCommerce stores (in the US) improve user experience—and 2X their conversions.

How we can help you:

Our conversion experts can audit your site—identify UX issues, and suggest changes to improve conversions.

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