Shopify Speed Checklist: 6 Ways to Speed Up Your Shopify Store
Kaya Ismail • 22 February 2023
Speed equals success. This is true whether you’re an athlete trying to win a gold medal or an eCommerce merchant trying to increase conversions.
When your website loads quickly, it improves the user experience and makes customers more likely to make a purchase. On the other hand, sluggish performance and slow loading times can make customers run for the hills.
If you want to prevent that from happening to your Shopify store, there are a few things you can do, starting with headless commerce.
Why Is eCommerce Store Speed Important?
Site speed refers to how quickly a page loads in the browser after clicking a link. Speed plays a critical role in the online shopping experience, particularly due to how it relates to customer expectations and search rankings.
Customers Expect Fast eCommerce Stores
A large portion of the shopping that customers do today happens in the digital world. Whether on a desktop or a mobile device, the places where consumers look for and purchase products are often online.
These customers have grown accustomed to shopping on multiple digital channels, including different social media platforms, mobile apps, and eCommerce websites. With the customer journey spanning so many channels, brands have needed to provide an omnichannel customer experience, which has raised customer expectations regarding speed and performance on websites.
SimilarWeb says the average bounce rate for eCommerce websites is 35.14%. Customers often bounce from a site without clicking on any links, going through any payment processes, or taking other actions when it takes too long to load. However, the faster a website is, the lower the bounce rates, which results in higher conversions.
Read More: How Does Website Speed Affect Conversion Rates?
Speed Is a Key SEO Factor
Another reason why speed is critical is that it plays an important role in SEO. If a site is slow or suffers from performance issues that impact the user experience, then it can negatively affect your rankings for the key terms relevant to your products and store. Search engines consider speed a crucial ranking factor in rankings, which is why it plays a vital role in Google’s core web vitals.
Explaining Core Web Vitals Metrics
Core web vitals are the primary metrics that Google tracks to determine rankings. These web vitals measure the impact on the user experience, including page speed and how easy it is for users to interact on the page. The core web vitals include:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): LCP refers to how fast your page loads when a visitor lands on your site. It measures how long the largest element on your site takes to load. For eCommerce stores, the largest image or video will be used to determine the LCP.
First Input Delay (FID): FID refers to the speed of page interactions. It measures how long user requests take to load in a browser. For example, after a user clicks a link, how long does it take to process everything on the backend and load the page.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS refers to the stability of your website. It measures how items on the page shift while loading.
How to Measure Site Speed
Understanding why site speed matters so much to customer expectations and SEO is necessary, but eCommerce merchants also need to know how to measure site speed.
Shopify provides a site speed report powered by Google Lighthouse. It analyzes the performance metrics outlined in the core web vitals and provides a score out of 100. After receiving the score, you can know your starting point and devise a plan to improve it.
Why Is My Shopify Store Slow?
Before setting out to improve the speed of your Shopify store, you first need to understand some of the underlying reasons why the store is slow in the first place. For many eCommerce stores, they may find that the primary thing affecting site performance is, in fact, Shopify.
Read More: Why Is My Shopify Store So Slow? (5 Potential Culprits)
Shopify Speed Checklist
After you’ve analyzed your current site speed and understand some of the underlying factors impacting your Shopify store speed, then it’s time to look at how you can improve your site speed.
Tip #1: Fix Your Foundation
Since many of the issues that can impact a store’s speed have to do with the underlying architecture of your site, the first place to start is with that foundation, as you can’t build a fast store on shaky ground. Adopting headless commerce and MACH principles are great foundational points that can do wonders for your store.
Headless commerce separates the frontend of your site from Shopify’s backend. This separation allows you to create front-end shopping experiences for any device, allowing you to keep up with the omnichannel expectations your customers have today. On the backend, Shopify can manage inventory, process orders, and everything in between.
You can also go a step further and incorporate the MACH architectural approach. MACH stands for microservices, APIs, cloud-native and headless, and describes an architecture that supports a composable or best-of-breed approach to building eCommerce solutions.
Following the MACH approach can help improve the user experience, decrease downtime and increase the scalability of your eCommerce store. Plus, it allows you to incorporate tools like a headless CMS, search engine, or payment gateway to enhance your store’s functionality.
If you aren’t quite ready for headless commerce just yet, the other tips in this checklist can still get you started on the road to a faster Shopify store.
Tip # 2: Use Compressed Images
Your eCommerce store needs images to help showcase your products and ensure customers know what they’re getting. The problem is that too many high-resolution images, though beautiful, can cause your site to slow down and consequently negatively affect your core web vitals.
The solution is to compress these images so that you decrease the size of images without compromising the quality. Tools like JPEGmini can be perfect for this purpose. In addition, when sourcing and designing images for your store, opt to use images that match the exact dimensions Shopify recommends for your banners and product images.
Tip #3: Implement AMP and Mobile Optimization
Many of your store’s customers will be coming from mobile devices. And not just to browse but to complete their purchases. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a Google framework that speeds up the mobile web experience.
AMP is useful for speeding up pages and improving load times, particularly on mobile devices. Use a Shopify app such as FireAMP to implement AMP and improve the mobile experience for customers.
Google has been hit or miss with how much emphasis they place on AMP, and we’ve seen limited success with it. However, optimizing your website for mobile should still be a priority. To that end, ensure that the frontend of your eCommerce store is designed for the mobile experience, keep your navigation menus as simplified as possible, and use conventional fonts and large text in key areas for maximum visibility on mobile devices.
Tip #4: Remove Unnecessary Apps
Shopify apps can help to improve the functionality of your store. However, too many of them can turn into a problem. Shopify apps are notorious for slowing down your store since they add to the number of requests made from your site. Start by taking stock of how often you use a specific feature or app and then determine if it’s critical to your business or just nice to have. After that, you can remove unnecessary apps and continue to audit your apps periodically.
Tip #5: Remove Broken Links
When customers come to your site and can’t find what they’re looking for, they will get frustrated. They can get even more frustrated when they click a link and it’s broken or redirects them to somewhere they don’t want to be.
Broken links also leave a negative impact on your SEO ranking. Luckily, Shopify offers a built-in redirect option. Additionally, several apps are available to identify broken links so you can quickly fix them.
Tip #6: Use a CDN
A content delivery network (CDN) is a group of distributed servers. They cache content from one location and place it closer to a user to speed up delivery. If you’re not already using a CDN specifically for your store, then potential customers, such as those in order countries on the other side of the world, might be waiting a long time for your site to load. Incorporating a CDN such as Akamai or Cloudflare can improve global performance.
Instant Commerce: Frontend as a Service to Speed Up Your Shopify Store
Following the tips we’ve outlined can go a long way toward speeding up your site loading speed. However, as we’ve pointed out, if you genuinely want to improve site performance, it starts with your foundation.
Building your eCommerce store on a foundation of headless commerce and MACH principles can ensure a positive experience for your customers and decrease the workload for your staff.
Instant Commerce offers a frontend as a service solution that gets you ready for headless commerce and allows you to incorporate the tools you need. You can transform the frontend experience for your Shopify store using pre-built building blocks and a component-based approach. Doing so reduces dependency on developers and allows non-technical users to effortlessly create an engaging experience on any device. You can integrate seamlessly with Shopify and other eCommerce tools while leveraging our Cloudflare hosting infrastructure for even more speed improvements.
With Instant Commerce handling the frontend experience and Shopify managing the backend eCommerce functionality, you can speed up your store, improve the user experience and increase conversions.
Find out how to get even more out of Shopify by reading: Headless commerce with Shopify: the complete guide.
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