Skip to Main Content

3 Keys to Fast Mobile eCommerce Websites

Fast mobile eCommerce websites are essential if you want to capture the Millennial eCommerce buyer.  It’s so important, the VP of eCommerce at Crocs International challenged her mobile team to manage new releases against one core requirement: “We have 3 seconds to stop their thumbs.”  This was one of the interesting insights at the “Marketing to Millennials” session at ShopTalk Europe this month.   

The panel went on to discuss the importance of a mobile UX with beautiful content that pops, relevant recommendations, and an effective social narrative. But they always came back to the importance of mobile website speed.  If you don’t respect the 3 second mobile shopping barrier, the only audience you will be engaging is your QA team.  

So how do you turn your eCommerce experience into a fast loading mobile website?  Here are 3 keys to delivering fast mobile eCommerce websites that load in under 3 seconds.

1) Embrace Adaptive instead of Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design (RWD) has been a popular development approach because you can build one version of the website that adjusts to every device.  Unfortunately, RWD increases the file size sent to the browser by sending every possible version of the website so it can render the correct one.  In contrast, Adaptive Web Design (AWD) uses information about the device to pick and send only the relevant files.  AWD websites load faster than comparable RWD websites while delivering the same experience.  This is the approach embraced by eBags, Moosejaw, and Pier 1, whose project was recently highlighted in Internet Retailer article “How Pier 1’s Focus on Web Speed Increases Sales

Although it give you a fast mobile eCommerce website, AWD is not something you can do overnight.  AWD a journey, and takes significant time and resources that not everyone can absorb.  Keep it as a goal, but also consider fixes that can improve the speed of your mobile RWD site in the short term.  Like your 3rd Party JavaScript.  

2) Javascript is NOT your Enemy

IT performance teams often view 3rd party JavaScript tags presents a new potential point of failure that IT can’t control.  At the same time, marketing teams love 3rd party Javascript, because it enables the fast deployment of features into the mobile site.

Don’t have an adversarial relationship with your Javascript You can deliver a Javascript-powered experience without waiting 10 seconds for a page to load over a slow network connection. Technology is available that allows you to delay the loading of non-essential Javascript until after the on-load event.  This is faster than asynchronous loading of tags, because the 3rd party Javascript isn’t tying up browser resources and bandwidth until after all the essential page content is loaded and interactive.  This is the approach adopted by eBags, which had a Javascript heavy mobile eCommerce website that converted visitors at a much lower rate than their desktop website.  eBags changed their technology approach rather than changing their Javascript, enabling them to increase page speed by 30% and mobile conversion rates by over 10%.  So apparently you can have your Javascript and speed it too.   

3) Trust the Process or Go Above The Code

If you are not ready to optimize the execution of your 3rd party JavaScript, you should at least create a process to ensure the Javascript is deployed with performance in mind. Today, marketing teams armed with tag management software can add new features and tracking tags at will, without going through IT.   Need to measure a campaign?  Tag.  Add a manufacturer advertisement?  Tag.  So easy.  Given that 3rd party JavaScript is responsible for 50-75% of page delays, it’s a wonder that problems ever occur.  

The way to resolve 3rd party JavaScript delays with minimal investment is to make IT a key member of the tag approval process.  Give them visibility into projects in the queue and the tags expected, so they are prepared for any problems that arise.  This way marketing can still add new features quickly without code changes, while IT can better manage and control the performance impact of tags on your mobile website.

If you don’t like adding process, an alternative is to go above the code.  Let marketing add the 3rd party JavaScript they want, then optimize the website code as it’s being delivered to the browser. This is accomplished by a cloud-based technology layer that resides outside your code and applies optimizations as requests are being received.  As a result, you will have more flexibility in how you release new features to your pages, because violations that create delays will be caught before they get to the browser.  But don’t abandon all efforts to control JavaScript proliferation.  Marketing doesn’t need 13 different tracking tags on one page, and someone needs to tell them.

Fast Mobile eCommerce Websites: Don’t Sacrifice

Reaching Millenial shoppers who love their mobile device is a critical challenge.  They want every convenience possible in their mobile eCommerce shopping experience, but will flee from the smallest of delays.  As you explore options to build a fast mobile eCommerce website, don’t sacrifice JavaScript and a great UX in the process.  The right technology and process will give you both.  

Don’t let slow site performance cost you conversions.Let's Talk