In the competitive world of ecommerce it’s important to not only drive traffic to your store but also to keep those potential buyers there, continuing them through the customer journey all the way to the shopping basket and clicking that “Checkout” button.
There are numerous strategies we see clients utilize to drive traffic to their site, but not everyone is doing the due diligence when it comes to site load speed time, image caching and the time it takes to update all the new information such as look books or blogs.
Having a fast site is probably one of the most important components of ecommerce. Think about it, how many times have you closed a browser window in frustration of watching the refresh button spin and spin again?
As eCommerce experts, we strongly encourage all our clients to look at site speed as a key component of client conversion.
I recently asked my colleague Cameron Gomes this question
How can I achieve a fast eCommerce store?
Here is what he had to say:
Keep the Engine humming.
Similar to any engine, a website is a finely tuned, well-oiled machine. If you don’t keep it maintained and do a check with the mechanic every once in a while, sometimes this can have an effect on how well your engine runs. Here are my top 3 tips:
- Keep it clean (Plugin review):
– Check to see if you have any plugins that are sitting in your environment doing nothing. These plugins might be remnants for functionality once needed but no longer used. We often see 2 plugins who offer the same functionality. Try and cut out the clutter and make sure the only plugins enabled/installed are the only plugins you need.
- Find efficient fuel (Server review)
– Depending on the car you buy (platform), the speed you want to go (amount of visitors), you will require different fuel (Server) – The same goes for website.
Example 1 – the Hummer:
If you are looking for a website with all the bells and whistles (The Hummer of websites) this will obviously consume a lot of resources and as such require a robust Server as fuel. Even with small amounts of visitors coming through the door, the sheer grunt of the processes required to make it work will be heavy and this can have impact on the Server fuel required.
Example 2 – My next door Neighbors 1980 Daewoo.
On the other end of the spectrum, jumping into a simple site (my neighbors 1980 Daewoo), it is only the bare essentials getting me from A to B. Knowing I am a small business with only a few visitors here and there, I am happy to go with the cheapest server (fuel), because my processing load is low, and my visitor count is low. 10% Ethanol fuel for this Baby!
As you grow and upgrade your online business vehicle, remember that site resource and visitors will always have an impact on how the server fuel will perform for you, take time to review your needs and upgrade your fuel as needed.
- Don’t allow illegal mods! (Use Certified Enhancements!)
– Illegal mods on cars are there for a reason! They can be a hazard not only to your car but to others around you. Make sure to only approved certified solutions, and never allow the core code to be changed! Changing the engine chasis can have an effect on the wear and tear of your engine! And the same goes for websites. The engine and frame are built together for a reason. If you can’t get the online store to do something you need it to do, then either look for an authorized plugin, or look for a certified developer who knows how the engine and frame were built and is qualified to offer the most pain free solution.
What is Varnish and the benefits of using Varnish?
Imagine you have a tourist shop in one of the main tourist areas in Sydney. One day you decide to have a sale “80% off all items” and you place that poster right in the window. How are the customers going to see your product? They need to come inside. Turns out it is holiday period in Europe and thousands of Tourists are visiting this very store at the same time. A line forms to get in. Before you know it, you have over a hundred customers ready to buy and are WAITING up to 2 hours.
So how do we get around this?
When we separate out the Window Shoppers from the buyers. By taking that great big poster off the window and placing a stand outside instead, customers can now see what you sell and some don’t want to buy souvenirs! Suddenly the wait times in the line drops down from 2 hours to 45mins!
Using Varnish Caching we can achieve the same outcome for online stores. Varnish Caching essentially becomes the window front to your store. Visitors who walk past and peer in the window, will not take up any resources or space inside your store. They will be able to view the products, add products to their basket, see the promos you are running, sign up to your newsletter, but they won’t take up any resources until they head to the checkout. In the online world, this can make the difference between a 10 second wait and a <1 second wait!
So What is it?
Varnish Caching is a technology which enables your website to essentially create a ‘snapshot’ of itself that can be used to filter out window shoppers from actual buyers before they get to the server. This in turn stops the window shoppers from putting unnecessary load on your server; which keeps your site running FAST.
So how does it all work?
- Varnish Caching looks at your website and takes a ‘snapshot’ of website up to the cart page.
- A visitor visits your sites (arriving at the ‘snapshot’) and continues to look through the ‘snapshot’ as if it were a normal site.
- After the visitor has finished adding product to bag and decides to checkout, the visitor is redirected from the ‘snapshot’ to the real checkout page.
- You have a happy customer who had a speedy checkout!
Importance of having a fast site in summary:
- SEO improvements!
- Increased conversion rates.
- More customers!
- Higher customer return rates.
- Maintain competitiveness in the market