Optimize your Shopify store to retain more new customers

Ecommerce has broken a lot of rules in the retail industry, but some things never change, like the value of a great first impression.

Too often, online store owners are so slammed with the day-to-day details of their business that they forget that improving new customers' first visit to their website translates into significant sales.

Paying close attention to your visitors' first experience with your website won't require a redesign or hours of tinkering with code. Here's how to target the changes that will have the greatest impact.

Numbers Don't Lie

Results vary of course, but studies have shown that 40-90% of your visitors might disappear after seeing only one page of your website. That's right, one page.

Chances are that you know exactly which page most of your visitors are landing on -- and then rejecting. Instead of spending a lot of time changing several product pages, conserve time and money by zeroing in on the pages with the most visitors.

For most online stores, this will be your homepage. Occasionally, a product page will be so popular that it outranks your homepage, but that's not very typical. Optimizing your homepage will usually bring in a better return for your efforts.

You can quickly find the most popular pages using an analytics system like Google Analytics. Just look for the Site Content report (inside of Behavior).

Give Your Homepage Some TLC

The #1 problem with most websites is loading time. With today's short attention spans and endless options for immediate distractions, no one is going to wait around for your page to load in all its glory.

How many visitors do you lose and how quickly do they leave? According to Kissmetrics, a 1-second delay means a 7% reduction in conversions. That pencils out to $2.5 million per year if your site is bringing in $100,000 per day. For a giant like Amazon, that one second equals a loss of $1.6 billion (with a B!) a year, and for Google, one-fourth of a second could mean a loss of 8 million searches per day, and the ad revenue to go with it.

If you're wondering about your page's performance, see this article for how to make some quick page speedups.

The ideal loading speed for web pages should be under 1 second, but some parts of the website should load even faster. A homepage that loads in under a quarter of a second would be ideal (250ms).

Common Problems That Kill Website Speed

As design elements get more flashy and complex, it's easy for them to bog down your loading speed. Here's where to check for huge files or unnecessary code that can slow your website.

  • Large, unoptimized hero images can cause problems with their high resolution and large file size. Try to compress them, which removes a lot of the metadata without significantly reducing image quality.

  • Many websites feature video that runs on autoplay, which sucks up layers of megabytes. Ditch the video and use a few good images instead.

  • Too many high-resolution project images can also slow down your loading speed, and make it pretty distracting to boot. Consider featuring a few of your most popular images instead of 12, and check to see if you the website is trying to load full-resolution images instead of thumbnailed ones. Also, watch out if you're including a few products on your homepage, you might be pulling in large images there.

  • JavaScript often gets installed with apps you want, and then your website can take forever to load it. Depending on how the app is using JavaScript, your site might stall and look like a white page or just part of the page will be displayed while the JavaScript loads. There are some technical way to allow JavaScript to load without affecting your page speed, so ask your developer or designer if they can improve that.

  • Advertising and analytics scripts are necessary, but can be problematic if you're trying to run several simultaneously. Stick to one analytic script and one advertising script and leave it there. Trying to run both Google ads, Facebook ads, remarketing ads, and every other ad network will only create problems.

Polish Up Your First Impression

Sure, you could spend hours tweaking and perfecting your entire website, but research says that if converting new visitors into customers is your goal, you can start by focusing on one place: your homepage.

If you want to go one layer deeper, but without investing in a website renovation, check out this article on 5 quick fixes for your Shopify store that will also give you a faster loading time.

Would you like to learn how to improve your store, attract happy customers, and sell more products?

Learn how in the Shopify Dispatch.

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