Cheetah fast Speed and Performance in Ecommerce   4 Ways To Get it Right  Speed sure seems to be one of the hot topics in ecommerce these days. It appears everyone is obsessed with fast websites. And the latest studies seem to back this up:

  • Gomez found that almost one third of shoppers surveyed said they would leave a site if it was too slow.
  • Forrester found that most people will only wait 3 seconds for a site to load before leaving. Many would only wait 2 seconds.

Even Google considers speed to be an important metric. So much so they include page speed as one of their ranking factors (and have released lots of new feature lately with the word “instant”).

So what can an ecommerce merchant do to insure their site is fast? Here are 4 areas to consider.

1. Compress it!

Make sure your site is set up to compress text, JavaScript, style sheets, and other non-image files before sending them to the visitor. This means making sure your hosting platform supports it, and that you’ve set it up correctly. This can really improve the speed of your site to the end user.

2. Watch those third party scripts

Many webmasters know to combine local JavaScript and CSS into one or two files to take advantage of caching and maximize speed. However, it’s often the off-site scripts like an SSL dynamic seal, ROI tracking code, Google Analytics, etc… that can really slow down your store. I’ve seen web pages fail to load when an SSL vendor had issues with their seal, causing numerous ecommerce sites to become almost unusable.

So make sure the third party scripts you add to your site are reputable, and offer options like Asynchronous loading (i.e. if they break they do not affect your site) and redundancy in their deployment.

3. Real-time shipping and payments can (and do) fail

Most shopping carts offer real-time shipping rates and charge credit cards in real-time. But what happens when a major shipper has problems with their rate server, or your payment gateway is down or slow to respond? For many sites, this means their cart either breaks or becomes quite slow. And that results in customers going elsewhere.

Make sure you monitor for these type of failures (Twitter is a good place to search, watch for an abnormal rate of declined cards, low order volume, etc…) and more importantly, have a backup plan you can put into action.

4. Measure, measure, measure

It’s important to know that your changes are actually making your site faster. Google Webmaster Tools has lots of great info on site performance. See how fast your pages load around the world (and your competitors) using the Spotcheck Feature at www.alertra.com. Or analyze how long it takes each item on a page to load using a browser plugin like Firebug.

So what are you waiting for? Get your website up to speed!

About the Author

Rob Mangiafico is the CTO at LexiConn, a web hosting company that focuses on ecommerce and ShopSite hosting.