The reason slow load speed cripples retail performance

It’s well known that there’s a direct correlation between the loading time of your website and bounce rate, that is to say the number of people that visit your site but leave straight away; just like in the offline retail world, where a customer walks into a shop then walks straight out.

In fact, to better explain the term ‘bounce rate’ it can help to picture a busy shopping centre – where people are walking around browsing or searching for a particular solution. In the shopping centre, signposts help point people in the right direction, whereas in the online world, Google is the authority.

In the offline retail world, people naturally browse a few different stores based on the attractiveness of their retail display amongst other factors such as brand awareness and perceived relevance to their needs.

Now, as the store owner once they come through the door, it’s your job to engage them with special offers, product demonstrations, engaging retail displays, and relevant ideas to solve a problem they face.

In essence, your job as a retailer is to engage consumers so they spend as much time in your retail environment as possible – for there’s a direct correlation between the amount of time spent in a store and the amount of money spent. This is why large retail brands invest so much in visual merchandising.

Now, in the digital world, if you have high traffic but low engagement this is known as having a high bounce rate.

The reason a high bounce rate will cripple your online business success is because it’s akin to people walking in your store, and then straight back out, without buying anything. Whilst a high bounce rate can be attributed to many factors such as a lack of engaging content, or a lack of perceived relevance, it has been found that 40% of potential customers will leave your website if the site takes more than 3 seconds to load.

This is particularly pertinent in our increasingly impatient digital world and therefore we’re going to take a brief look at three ways to optimise the loading speed of your website.

  1. Hosting

Load speed can be somewhat contingent on your hosting provider, and therefore, it’s something you should seriously consider before committing to a provider. If you have a high volume of traffic to your website then you might want to consider upgrading to private hosting, as this can offer a much speedier service in terms of load speed.

  1. Optimize images

Many website owners use large image files and then scale them down automatically using CSS, to be displayed on the user’s device. This might not seem like a problem, but the challenge is the browser has to load the full size image, then scale it down, which is a very inefficient way to process photos – and this can seriously affect load speed.

  1. Enable browser caching

When you regularly visit a website some of the elements of that web page are stored on your hard drive, in a temporary storage folder, known as a cache. As a website owner, if you enable browser caching it means you are able to temporarily store data on the user’s computer which means they will have a much faster loading experience.