Shopify is, without a doubt, one of the fastest eCommerce platforms on the market, as independent studies keep showing it, surpassing the competition on almost any level. As you may sometimes notice though, your store may be lagging or it even won’t load at all. Why are these things happening? The answer is quite simple – you’ve probably installed plenty of apps from different providers, and these applications aren’t “in sync” or they don’t interconnect efficiently with each other. What are other reasons behind your slow(ish) Shopify Store?
Loading speeds are of the utmost importance for your site, Google even indicating that the loading time of your site counts toward your ranking. Page speed is also important to user experience. Pages with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page. Longer load times have also been shown to negatively affect conversions.
1. Most probable cause of slow loading stores – larger than life images
According to a research by Radware, around 45% of the top 100 eCommerce sites on the Web don’t bother with compressing their images. There are, sometimes, hundreds of images that are very large in one single store.
Of course, the bigger the image on the site, the bulkier it is, and the longer it takes to load. The longer it takes to load, the less happy will your clients be – you get the jest.
So, how can one make images smaller? You can either do it yourself using Photoshop or any other similar program (if you know which parameters to tweak), or, the easiest way, use an image optimization tool that will make the necessary changes for you:
- ImageOptim(Mac only)
- Riot(Windows only)
- TinyPNG(web-based)Usually, images are made smaller due to:
- Removal of the unnecessary colors from the palette;
- Conversion to a more appropriate format (use png for graphics, jpeg for color-rich photos, gif for animated images);
- Stripping of redundant metadata;
- Using a smart compression method.
Too many apps from too many providers – what’s the solution
Your store may suffer lags or slow loading times if you’re not careful which apps you install. So we’ve made a little experiment, comparing 13 apps from different top providers and the same 13 apps, but from only one provider, VITALS.
When clients flock to your awesome store, ready to buy, there are 13 different requests to 13 different servers around the world, if you’ve installed those apps from different providers. This translates more often than not into slow loading times which, it’s been proved over and over again, may drive away your clients.
Each request means a set of connections (known as “handshakes”) that take a bit of time to exchange information — and each app, depending on how well it’s built and interconnected with the others, might make more requests to download content, script files, images. Although browsers are able to parallelize requests, depending on how well apps are built and how well their servers respond, it might take a while until your store is fully loaded.
VITALS is built around the idea of providing users with 40+ different apps-in-one behemoth, improving over 300 million page impressions per month.
Check out this experiment that compared 13 apps from VITALS vs 13 apps from several top different providers. These applications were similar and the store was the exact same.
The results? The store with 13 VITALS apps enabled loads in only 3.1 seconds, compared to 16.1 seconds with different apps that do the same things. Check the entire experiment to learn more about this very effective way of speeding up your Shopify store.
Mediocre hosting services
Yes, you want to save some monthly bucks from hosting services, but you may want to think again – and better. Running an eCommerce business often means getting uncontrollable Web traffic spikes, for example on Black Friday or CyberMonday, hosting large volumes of data, adding multi-media content, etc.
So, in a nutshell, the Web host you will choose needs to be:
- Reliable (good uptime, high-performing servers, etc.);
- Flexible (lets you configure things the way you like).
One more thing to consider is that it’s best to get a dedicated IP address for your account. As per GoDaddy, a dedicated IP could “ensure faster response during periods of high traffic load.” (If your site uses an SSL certificate, this means there already is a dedicated IP allocated for you, since it’s required to establish an SSL connection).
If you already are using a hosted eCommerce service, there’s no need for you to buy additional web hosting.
Broken links on your store’s pages
A broken link is a hyperlink to a Webpage that doesn’t exist or existed before but now is no more. Because an attempt to access such a page still requires an HTTP request (at best), it’s basically a waste of your page’s load time.
Hence, make it a habit to periodically check your site for broken links. You can detect broken links with:
These broken link checkers are either free or have a free version available. Check for other Shopify plugins as well.
5. Use pop-ups – but don’t overdo it
Yes, pop-ups may be a great way to increase your sales or eMail signups, but if you overdo it there is a possibility that your store will experience slowdowns.
Pop-ups display a product—directly from a product listings page—rather than making you visit a product detail page.
In theory, it should save your customers time to decide if they’re interested.
But it can actually impede a customer’s experience on your ecommerce site.
- It adds an extra step to the customer’s journey;
- Can be clicked on by accident, which is frustrating to the user;
- It can be mistaken for a product page;
- More importantly, it can significantly slow down your page loading time.
Quick view pop-up implementations (either built into a Shopify theme or from an app) can sometimes pre-load the information from an entire product page in case a visitor clicks the “Quick View” button.
How did you manage to speed up your Shopify store? What tips can you share? Let us know in the comments.