How to Improve Page Speed to Drive Ecommerce Growth

Daphne Saropoulou

October 11, 2021

In today’s attention economy and competitive Ecommerce landscape, visibility is key. With a myriad of sites catering to consumers within your niche, it is becoming increasingly challenging for websites to stand out in search results and earn high levels of organic traffic. Google determines the ranking position of a website by considering various aspects of the site’s health and usability; one of these critical website elements is non-other than page speed.

In this article, we’ll cover the fundamentals of page speed, the importance of this metric, and break down key actions that help improve page load time.

What is Page Speed & The Industry Benchmark?

Page speed is the measurement of how quickly content and images on your page load. This metric can also be referred to as ‘time to first byte’, the amount of time it takes for your browser to be given the first byte of information from the webserver.

Even though there is no official threshold, the common suggestion is for your site to load in less than three seconds. This benchmark is derived from a Google study stating that 53% of mobile visitors leave a page that takes more than three seconds to load.

What is Page Speed & The Industry Benchmark?

Why is Page Speed Important?

Having a fast page loading time is crucial in achieving the optimum performance of your site for several notable reasons.

1. Faster Speed Leads to Better UX & More Return Users

Consumers are becoming more time-sensitive day-by-day, and if a site’s pages are taking too long to load, site users will bounce onto another website that offers a better user experience. When users enjoy their experience on your website, they are more likely to return and browse your site on other occasions.

2. Page Speed Directly Impacts Conversions

Your site’s page speed affects all your other digital marketing initiatives, including paid search, email and social marketing. The faster your site’s pages load, the longer users will stay on your site, increasing the likelihood of them converting into customers. A fast page loading speed will facilitate users’ journey on the site and provide an overall better user experience, which can also increase the number of return customers. Therefore, quick page loading is vital in lifting the site’s conversion rate and achieving higher revenue across channels.

3. Page Speed is a Ranking Factor

Google recently completed the rollout of its new algorithmic update, the Page Experience signal. This new feature, which can be found on Google Search Console, puts further emphasis on how users perceive the experience of interacting with a website’s pages. The website elements this update considers include mobile-friendliness, non-intrusive interstitials (e.g., pop up ads) and Google’s Core Web Vitals, which are outlined below:

 Why is Page Speed Important?

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

This measures when the largest content element in a web page’s visible area (viewport) becomes present. The recommended score for LCP is for the server to take less than 4 seconds to render the largest visible element in the viewport.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Another Core Web Vital is CLS, which is the measurement of the instability of content. This metric looks at how much visible content shifted in the viewport as well as the distance the elements impacted were moved. Google outlines that for the optimum user experience, sites should strive to have a CLS score of 0.1 or less.

First Input Delay (FID)

The last Core Web Vital is First Input Delay. This metric captures a user’s first impression of a site’s interactivity and responsiveness. It measures the time from when a user first interacts with a page to the time when the browser responds to that interaction. In order to provide a good user experience, website pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Core Web Vitals

How to Check Your Site’s Page Speed

Now that we have broken down the fundamental set of Core Web Vitals used to determine a site’s page speed, where should you start?

First, it is essential to diagnose what issues are affecting your website to understand whether you should focus your efforts on images, page elements, text, coding, or all of the above.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and GT Metrix are both free online tools that provide you with your page speed score as well as issues that are increasing the page’s load time and solutions in resolving these problems. For instance, these tools highlight pages where image sizes are too large or there is unused JavaScript code that should be removed.

How to Fix Page Speed Issues

While different websites might have varying issues slowing down page load time, below, we will cover tips for improving page speed issues applicable to most websites. These solutions will eliminate issues that are impacting your site’s LCP, CLS and FID scores and, of course, your overarching PageSpeed Insights score.

How to Fix Page Speed Issues

1. Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML

Minifying your code involves removing unnecessary elements such as spaces, commas, line breaks, and other unnecessary characters or formatting. This action will help drastically improve your page speed. Browsers don’t need these elements to render and execute a page. Therefore, removing them won’t negatively affect the information presented to the user on the page. Google-recommended tools to perform this minification proccess include CSSNano, csso (for CC) and UglifyJS (for Javascript).

2. Optimise Images & Media Files

Large images are a big culprit in causing slow loading speed. Thankfully, fixing and optimising the size of your site’s images is very simple with the help of an image compression tool. For Shopify websites, Crush.pics is a great tool to use as it removes non-visible information from the image and applies high-efficiency compression techniques, which can save 50% or more of image size. There are similar tools for WordPress sites such as Smush.

3. Reduce Redirects

Each time a page redirects to another page, your visitor faces additional time waiting for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete. We recommend restricting your use of redirects to only the cases where it is necessary from a technical standpoint, such as when you want to direct traffic to a temporary page to resolve issues with the original page.

4. Leverage Browser Caching

Another great way to reduce page load time is by leveraging browser caching. This process temporarily stores the previously loaded resources on your site so that they don’t have to reload with every single visit. When a website visitor navigates to a new page on your site, this data will be already downloaded onto users’ devices instead of having to load again (e.g., logos, navigation menu, footers).

5. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Lastly, using a CDN is an important action to improve the loading of large websites. What is a CDN you might ask? It is a geographically distributed group of servers that stores content including HTML pages, images, videos, JavaScript and CSS files. These networks of servers distribute the load of delivering content as copies of your site are stored at multiple, geographically diverse data centers. When visitors from a particular country navigate onto a website, the content of the site is retrieved from the closest server instead, which speeds up time. These are examples of recommended CDNs: Cloudfare, StackPath and KeyCDN.

Implementing the above changes to technical and visual elements of your site will help eliminate issues that are impacting page speed and, thus your overall site’s performance. As users’ experience on the site is affected by slow loading and Google now uses this metric as a ranking factor impacting SERP visibility, scoring well on the PageSpeed Insights test should be a top priority for site owners.

Find out more about Pattern’s SEO services and how we can assist you in improving your site’s page speed, contact us now.

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Aug 4, 2022

How Disjointed Sellers Take Away Brand Control on Ecommerce Marketplaces

A top issue we see with brands struggling on ecommerce marketplaces is a loss of brand control due to disjointed sellers—those that aren't following your brand policies and guidelines when selling your products online. Disjointed sellers can be gray market, unauthorized, and rogue sellers, as well as 3P and other sellers that are noncompliant with your branding, pricing, and other forms of representation online.

It can be very easy for brands to lose control of their ecommerce strategy when they can’t get a handle on disjointed sellers. Typically, these brands are either stuck in a game of whack-a-mole or just ignoring the warning signs of bigger issues and hoping for the best. But, when disjointed selling isn't handled right, the consequences can be devastating to profitability. A loss of brand control doesn’t happen overnight, and the factors that contribute to it are long-standing. 

Erode Consumer Trust

Before the advent of ecommerce, brands favored a wide distribution. It was the easiest way to get products to as many distributors as possible. But wide distribution, when left unchecked, leads to leaky distribution—allowing your excess products to end up in the hands of unwanted sellers.

So brands that continue to operate with a wide distribution strategy are losing brand control and are damaging their brand equity and product performance. Why? You’re unable to monitor your products’ pricing, performance, or quality. You can’t dictate how you’re represented by each seller, creating an inconsistent and false representation of your brand to your new and existing consumers. These issues often lead to poor reviews and erode opportunities to build trust with future customers.

Wear Away Brand Equity

In today’s ecommerce landscape, marketplaces and digital platforms connect people and sellers to make online shopping simple and seamless. They also provide customers complete price transparency. Google, for instance, allows consumers to access any of your products on virtually every ecommerce channel and retail location and posts them side-by-side for you to comparison shop.

Now, everyone from your D2C distributors to large marketplace sellers, legitimate 3P sellers, and rogue and unauthorized sellers are on a level playing field—they’re all presented to the searching consumer, and that consumer has the purchase power.

Disjointed sellers have just as much power and authority to represent your brand as you do, without the same quality, pricing strategy, and customer focus as you.

Cause Competition and Price Matching Issues 

In most shopping scenarios, consumers will choose to purchase a product from whichever seller offers the lowest price. Marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart know this, and optimize their product selection based on all retail offers to serve consumers the lowest price for the same item.

This means that as one seller drops the price of your product, the next will follow, and then the next, etc. Everyone gains access to the product at or below MSRP. This opens the door for unauthorized sellers to purchase inventory during promotions or at discounted prices and then turn around and sell the same product slightly below competing sellers’ prices—for profit.  

As customers search for your product, they notice the cheaper price and purchase from the unauthorized seller, rather than paying the price you’ve established with your retail teams. Simultaneously, as Amazon monitors their product listing against other available channels, they notice they don’t have the lowest price. So Amazon, and other marketplaces, in service of the consumer, drop their price to match the lower price offered by an unauthorized seller. To stay competitive, your other channels follow suit. The cycle, also know as the profitability death spiral, continues to drive down the price of your product, grinding away your margins and profitability.

This doesn’t sound like much of a problem if your brand isn’t actively selling on ecommerce marketplaces, right? Unfortunately, it causes big issues for your brick-and-mortar sales, too. Large retail chains like Best Buy and Macy’s noticed this potential loss of sales from ecommerce and needed to defend and protect their profit. Retailers started telling brands that, in order to keep their products in-store (which accounts for 80% of most brands’ sales) they would need to lower their prices to match online prices. Which led to the concept of price matching. If a customer could prove the price of a product was lower somewhere else, Best Buy would match the lower price and charge the brand for the difference.

As other brick-and-mortar retailers jumped on the trend, brands started to see large losses in their margins.

Gain Ecommerce Control with Pattern

The danger that disjointed sellers pose to brands is enormous—without a way to control all of a brand’s distribution points on ecommerce, your brand spins farther and farther down the profitability death spiral. Using custom technology and data-driven insights, Pattern can identify disjointed and unauthorized sellers for your brand and develop a custom strategy tailored to your specific needs to address these big issues as soon as possible. Then, Pattern partners with the econtrol law firm, VORYs, to enforce take downs and save brands who find themselves caught on any stage of the death spiral.

With the right resources and expert help, we’ve helped hundreds of brands to regain their footing and control on ecommerce, win the buy box, and grow their sales. 

Contact us today to regain your brand control.

Aug 2, 2022

How Poor Product Listings Damage Your Brand on Amazon

Since most brands only sell about 20% of their products online, it’s common for executives to turn a blind eye to their poor ecommerce performance—issues there are probably a small problem, right? But if you can pinpoint the lackluster ecommerce profitability to poorly-performing listings, then you can take care of issues now that would snowball to greater losses as your brand grows.

As an expert in ecommerce and the world’s foremost ecommerce accelerator, Pattern has unparalleled expertise in managing brands across global marketplaces. Partnering with Pattern gives you access to data, technology, and top teams across multiple disciplines that help you prioritize great product listings in your overall ecommerce strategy and provides the resources to improve underperforming listings. 

We've highlighted three ways poor listings impact your Amazon marketplace performance.

Negatively Impacts Your Discoverability

If your listings aren’t optimized for SEO and strategic ad placement, they will not be found by customers. And if your products aren’t found, your traffic, conversions, and overall profitability drop significantly. Pattern’s Amazon data and trends suggest that only the top four products listed in an Amazon search result drive more engagement with a brand's listing. So, optimizing your products for organic discoverability needs to be a priority for your ecommerce efforts.

Typically brands find it tempting to underestimate the power of SEO and paid ads, but the stakes are too high to ignore their impact for long. To put it into perspective, Amazon’s ads are clicked 42% more often than Google ads. And, the data shows when people search for products, 74% of them search Amazon first. 

Another reason Amazon search is so valuable is because of where your consumers are in their buying journey. Ads on social media and Google can be valuable, but on Amazon, you have the advantage of knowing your audience’s search intent. Appearing in front of consumers wanting and ready to buy a product that aligns with their search query is a huge opportunity that you can’t miss.

So, you need to be putting the right resources into creating and testing your listing titles, product descriptions, search filters, and backend search terms. (We’ve listed some of the best practices for brands here.) As you find what works, Amazon’s algorithm will be able to better identify your products and serve them in front of consumers ready to buy.

Pattern’s expert SEO teams know the best practices and how to optimize your product listings for the right audiences to improve your rankings for better traffic and conversion wherever you sell your products online.

Misrepresents Your Brand

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of brand affinity on ecommerce marketplaces. One of the key reasons you should be establishing a strong brand presence is to build a consumer base of loyal, repeat customers. 

Repeat purchases from repeat customers are a true sign of a healthy, thriving brand. And when you can establish a great relationship and deep trust with the people you’re selling to, you’ll naturally build positive momentum with their reviews and word of mouth endorsements. In short, it’s easier to reduce buying friction, the cost of conversion, and the cost of acquisition with people who already have an enthusiastic opinion of your products, leading to more conversions and overall success for your brand.

Clearly, it’s valuable to find your brand advocates, but how do your listings help you do that? The first is by claiming the buy box

Many brands struggle with disjointed sellers—3P sellers who have acquired your products, (for example—after buying them on deep discount) and now “pose” as your brand to sell those products to consumers. They often sell your products below their MAP price in order to claim the buy box, attracting more traffic and conversions.

As those customers are drawn to those listings instead of yours, they experience a disconnect in what they normally associate with your brand—often, the copy, media, and even the grammar are ignored for profitability for unauthorized sellers. They often focus on keyword stuffing and quick turnaround to capture traffic and end up poorly representing your brand.

Issues like losing the buy box can hurt your brand long-term, especially if 3P sellers are selling returned, damaged, or fake products in your name. When you have a true understanding of how to optimize your product listings to outperform your competition, you can win the buy box and reclaim your brand presence for your repeat and future customers to ensure better long-term success.

Pattern knows the dangers of disjointed sellers leading to poor brand representation. We have both legal partnerships and listing optimization strategies at our disposal that are proven to help you get ahead of disingenuous sellers and reclaim your brand’s presence wherever you sell online.

Lowers Your Conversion Rates

In order to achieve long-term profitability and growth on ecommerce marketplaces, it’s important to keep your conversion rates as high as possible. Pattern’s experts have found that a low conversion rate signals to Amazon your products aren’t worth showing to customers, significantly lowering your sales potential. But a great conversion rate helps improve your organic rankings and raises your ROI for paid ads—making it easier and less expensive to sell your products in the long run.

So, how do listings affect your conversion rates? Consumers searching for products on Amazon are more likely to purchase from a brand they trust. And without being able to physically sample your product, they have a short window with limited information to decide whether or not they’ll purchase from you. 

We know from extensive data analysis and research there are a few key components of your listing that help in building trust with your consumers. One of those components is the quality of your images.

If your images are blurry or you only post 1 or 2, customers will have a hard time understanding what your product is and its potential value to them. So, they’ll keep searching instead of purchasing your product. Things like the images’ lighting, background, the quality of your equipment, and your editing process shouldn’t be left up to chance. 

Partnering with an ecommerce product photography expert is a way to make sure you get the best photography for your products, and your images are optimized for both your brand and your marketplace.

Pattern Boosts Your Product Listing Performance 

When it comes to optimizing your ecommerce strategy, Pattern has all of the resources you need to achieve long-term profitability. Not only do we have the data and technology to analyze a brand's current performance and opportunity on marketplaces, Pattern has all of the necessary teams to optimize your success from end to end. As the world’s top ecommerce accelerator, Pattern knows the key drivers for boosting listings, conversions, and profitability for brands.

Ready to improve your product listings? Contact us.

Aug 2, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 2nd August 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon sees its share price rise 10% and beats revenue expectations Amazon has exceeded revenue expectations, mainly due to its Amazon Web Services cloud business and its fast-growing advertising arm. Investors who have been concerned about the effects of sharp macroeconomic effects have been reassured as the ecommerce giant has overperformed and seen growth. [Read more on the Financial Times](https://www.ft.com/content/911f7a71-72ed-4c26-8a07-932832ffff4d) Amazon set to launch localised versions of its Prime Video in Southeast Asia Amazon is launching local versions of Prime Video across three countries in Southeast Asia, with new investments in local content. The service will launch in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, where users will be offered a 7 day free trial along with other discounted introductory offers. Prior to this launch, consumers in these countries had been able to shop cross-border on the platform but Prime Video has not been available until now. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/07/26/amazon-prime-still-worth-it/) Amazon closes down its cloud storage platform, Amazon Drive By the end of 2023 Amazon Prime members will be losing a big feature, Amazon Drive, as the company turns its attention towards its Amazon Photos service. The tech giant wants to focus on photo and video storage features, allowing Prime members to safely back up, share and organise photos & videos with Amazon Photos, which is currently available on iOS, Android and desktop devices. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/01/amazon-prime-members-are-set-to-lose-a-big-feature/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify lays of 10% of its workforce Shopify has cut 10% of its workforce as it struggles with a slowdown in ecommerce growth. The company was relying on a permanent jump in online purchases in the retail space, and are now realising that incorrect assumptions were made, which now need adjustment accordingly. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/07/27/shopify-cuts-10-workforce/) Alibaba Group goes after primary listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange By the end of 2022, Alibaba will become dual-primary, listed on both the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) and HKSE (Hong Kong Stock Exchange). Being listed in two major financial centres will allow the company to expand its openness and diversity, broaden its investor base, and will help to pave the way for its globalisation strategy. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/07/26/alibaba-group-pursues-primary-listing-on-the-hong-kong-stock-exchange/) Shopee and P&G launch virtual home shopping experience As part of Procter & Gamble’s Regional Super Brand Day on Shopee, a new exclusive 360 degree virtual home shopping experience feature has been launched, with P&G brands of household essentials on offer, categorised according to rooms. Accessible through P&G’s official store on Shopee’s website and app, the feature includes multi-format touch points like videos, games, and localised content to make online home shopping convenient and engaging. [Read more on Business Mirror](https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/07/26/pg-and-shopee-launch-a-new-exclusive-360-virtual-home-shopping-experience/) The Hut Group ends investment deal with Japan’s Softbank UK ecommerce company, THG, has recently put an end to an investment agreement with Softbank due to “global macroeconomic conditions”. The deal was made to help fund the expansion of THG’s technology platform before going public in London. The company saw its share price fall after the announcement and its valuation remains well below its flotation price despite recent bidding wars. [Read more on The Guardian](https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/jul/26/uk-thg-ends-investment-deal-softbank-lookfantastic-zavvi) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Third-party online marketplaces sales to account for 59% of all global ecommerce by 2027 By 2027, third-party sales through marketplaces will be the largest and fastest-growing retail channel globally, accounting for two thirds of all online sales. Alibaba will continue to hold its place as the global leader in retail sales, growing total net GMV sales in 2027 to $1.5trn, and Amazon in second place with $1.2trn. The number of third-party marketplaces operating globally has increased by over 500% since 2007, and is expected to see further growth. [Read more on Internet Retailing](https://internetretailing.net/marketplaces/third-party-marketplace-sales-to-account-for-59-of-all-global-ecommerce-by-2027/)