Website Performance Key Metrics And Their Ecommerce Impact
In our modern era of digital commerce, customer expectations have never been higher. Whether browsing from a desktop or smartphone, users demand fast, seamless experiences when they visit eCommerce websites. If a site falls short, the cost can be steep.
Key terms and what they mean
Before we delve into the potential eCommerce business impacts, it's important to understand some key performance metrics:
- Time to Interactive (TTI): TTI is especially crucial because it directly impacts a user's ability to engage with your site. If a page looks visually complete but isn't yet fully interactive, users can experience frustration when they try to interact with unresponsive elements. This can lead to higher bounce rates as users might leave out of frustration. Additionally, a long TTI can give the impression of a sluggish site, damaging your brand's perceived quality.
- First Contentful Paint (FCP): FCP is one of the first tangible signs for users that a page is loading. If the FCP is delayed, users may perceive the site as slow or even broken, leading them to abandon the page before it fully loads. In the fast-paced online shopping world, every second counts. A delay in FCP can significantly impact the perceived performance of your site, leading to lower user engagement and potentially lost sales.
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): LCP is a vital metric as it relates to the loading of the largest, and often most critical, part of the webpage. These elements are typically the ones that hold the most significant visual or informational value, like the main product image on an eCommerce product page. If the LCP is slow, users might not wait around to see what your site has to offer, resulting in lower engagement and conversion rates.
- Time to First Byte (TTFB): This measures the duration from the user or client making an HTTP request to the first byte of the page being received by the client's browser. This is a key indicator of the responsiveness of a web server or other network resource.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS measures the sum total of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of the page. A layout shift occurs any time a visible element changes its position from one rendered frame to the next. High CLS can lead to a frustrating user experience as it often causes users to click on the wrong element or lose their place on the page.
- Blocking Time: Also known as Total Blocking Time (TBT), it measures the total time between First Contentful Paint (FCP) and Time to Interactive (TTI) where the main thread was blocked for long enough to prevent input responsiveness.
- Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate is often a symptom of an unappealing or slow-to-load website.
- Search Performance: This refers to the functionality and efficiency of the search feature within the website. Good search performance means users can quickly and accurately find what they are looking for, while poor search performance can lead to users leaving the site out of frustration.
These metrics, among others, give us an understanding of how quickly users can interact with a site and whether they have a smooth or frustrating experience.
How load times and performance metrics can affect eCommerce shoppers
Research by Google indicates that a delay in page load from one to three seconds increases the bounce rate probability by 32%. This means one third of potential customers might leave your website before they even see your products. As page load time increases, so does the bounce rate.
For eCommerce businesses, a slow TTI can be particularly damaging. If customers can't interact with your site quickly, they are likely to abandon their purchase. LCP and FCP, though less critical than TTI, still significantly impact user experience. A poor LCP might cause users to perceive your site as slow, even if other elements load quickly. Similarly, a delay in FCP might give the impression that the site isn't loading at all, prompting users to navigate away.
By optimizing TTFB, you can ensure that your website begins loading quickly, which can drastically improve the perceived performance of your site. Optimizing CLS will ensure your site is stable as it loads, leading to a better user experience. Reducing Blocking Time ensures that your site remains responsive and usable while loading, further enhancing user experience.
Having a low Bounce Rate indicates that your site is engaging and that users are having positive interactions with your site. And finally, by optimizing Search Performance, you can ensure users find what they're looking for, which is especially important in eCommerce sites with a large catalog of products.
By optimizing these performance metrics, eCommerce businesses not only improve user experience and conversions but also increase their chances of appearing higher in search engine rankings. This can result in increased organic traffic, visibility, and ultimately, better search engine optimization (SEO) performance for the website.
The impact even extends to established brands
Even well-established brands are not immune to the consequences of poor website performance. In fact, they might have more to lose because of the high expectations customers have for their online experiences. If a popular eCommerce business has a slow website, it risks losing customer loyalty and damaging its brand reputation.
One might assume that established brands with loyal customer bases would be less susceptible to performance-related issues, but the opposite is true. A customer who has a poor experience on a favorite site is likely to feel disappointed and may question the quality of the brand as a whole.
Research from Portent indicates that the average conversion rate is almost 40% when pages load in 1 second. The conversion rate drops to 34% at a 2-second load time, and is down to 29% at 3 seconds.
The bottom line
Website performance, particularly for mobile users, is a critical factor in the success of eCommerce businesses. With the expanding realm of mobile commerce, a poor-performing website can lead to significant losses, even for well-established brands. Key metrics like TTI, FCP, and LCP are essential in understanding and improving the user experience, ultimately driving increased conversion rates and revenue.
Investing time and resources into optimizing your site's performance can help you reduce bounce rates, improve customer satisfaction, and secure your place in the competitive digital marketplace. It's important to remember that your website is often the first point of contact between your business and your customers. A well-performing website not only satisfies customers but also serves as a reflection of your brand's commitment to quality and service.
In this fiercely competitive digital world, a marginal gain in website performance can make all the difference. The effort invested in these optimizations will pay dividends in the form of improved customer retention, increased conversions, and ultimately, a more successful eCommerce business.
Macrometa’s Real-Time eCommerce Platform
Macrometa is a converged platform designed to deliver fast, personalized customer experiences for eCommerce organizations. With site acceleration and optimization for fast load times and seamless navigation, you can reduce bounce rates and improve your Lighthouse score. Leverage Macrometa’s intent-based search to deliver accurate and relevant search results that can help you drive engagement and increase sales. With instant personalization and recommendations, you can deliver tailored experiences and product suggestions to your customer. If you want to boost site performance and improve your Google Lighthouse score, request a personalized assessment, or chat with a Macrometa solutions expert.