11 October 2019

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Why Performance Matters: Making Site Speed, Scalability and Reliability a Priority in 2020

Today, an alarming number of eCommerce websites aren’t performing as well as they should be. They are either much too slow, meaning consumers don’t stick around to go any further than the homepage, or they are simply unreliable, crashing in the face of Black Friday or suffering security breaches because they failed to be PCI compliant. It’s safe to say that a large portion of these low-performing websites are stuck on legacy, self-hosted solutions that haven’t been able to keep up with consumer demand and the growth of technology.

However, brands are finally catching on. They are realising that something needs to change in order to provide their customers with a seamless online retail experience, and many are now investing in their site performance.

That’s not to say merchants are finding it easy. The costs involved with being able to provide consumers with a fast, responsive site experience, especially on mobile, is becoming untenable. This is made even worse when you consider downtime and other costs from constantly engineering performance into your existing legacy platform

Even the UK government has provided guidance for when it might be time to shift away from legacy technology, providing reasons such as the cost of maintaining becoming greater than the cost of an update, to the reduction in efficiency preventing necessary changes. It is clear to see across all industries, that legacy platforms are no longer the solution of choice. 

Making the shift from legacy, self-hosted solutions such as Magento and WooCommerce, can enable eCommerce businesses to scale and perform at the level they should be.

Here’s a breakdown on why performance matters and how the move to a SaaS solution can provide your online store with the necessary tools to compete in an ever-changing digital landscape.


The Need For Speed

In the UK, the average page load time for an eCommerce website was 10.3 seconds in 2018. Google’s recommendation is 3 seconds. This means, the majority of retail websites aren’t performing as well as they should be and in an ever competitive world with rising advertising costs, a saturated market and an increasingly demanding consumer, this could be the catalyst for a brand’s downfall. 

When you also factor in the opportunity cost of customer acquisition, the last thing an eCommerce business wants to see is their customers bouncing from the homepage due to that 10.3 second speed index. This is why eCommerce site owners, brands and retailers need to ensure they have performant, scalable and always-on websites and sales channels. Without a fast and seamless digital experience, consumers won’t stick around and neither will your business.

Mobile First

Mobile shopping is taking over the retail industry. 

According to eMarketer, a third of eCommerce sales in 2019 will come from mobile. This is a huge market, which means that if your website is not optimised for mobile shopping, you will be missing out on a large portion of potential sales. 

Considering that 52% of users also said that a bad experience with a website on mobile would result in them being less likely to engage with the brand, it’s clear that performance and responsiveness is key to keeping your consumers happy, and happy consumers mean conversions.

In February 2019, Google released an article on this topic and the importance of speed in mobile, highlighting some research that proved a 1 second delay in mobile load time can cause a whopping 20% drop in conversions. 

This is not surprising when you consider some more research conducted by Google into mobile page speed which found that as page load time goes from 1 to 10 seconds, the probability of bounce increases 123%. You’re not going to make much money if no one is ever getting past your homepage. 

So where do you go from here?

BigCommerce state that one of the common pitfalls of mobile commerce is the constant need for optimisation.  We know that with a legacy platform, this could be another hefty cost in improving your site performance. However, moving to a SaaS platform, such as BigCommerce, can provide businesses with an out-of-the-box solution to mobile optimisation.

Given that BigCommerce is the first eCommerce platform to integrate Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) natively, brands on the platform have a simplified way of improving search engine rankings and mobile page load speed. 

A study commissioned by Google indicates that AMP-powered eCommerce websites obtained a 20% increase in sales conversions compared to non-AMP pages. This is a dramatic increase that should scare those stuck on legacy platforms where custom coding and third-party apps would be the only way to create AMP pages. This gives those on SaaS platforms like BigCommerce a huge advantage over their competitors.



Site speed is also a crucial search engine ranking factor and since July 2018, Google have included this within their mobile rankings. 

Moz say that a slow page speed means that search engines such as Google crawl fewer pages during their allocated crawl budget, which could negatively impact your indexation and therefore how you appear in their rankings. 

Considering that nearly 35% of shoppers head to Google when beginning their product search, you need to make sure you are doing everything you can to get your web pages to the top of those search results, and the first step should be focusing on your site speed.

BigCommerce have provided several tips on ensuring you can bring your site speed up to scratch, including running your pages through Pingdom, limiting the use of redirects and using appropriate image sizes.



Ecommerce Built To Scale

Performance isn’t just about speed. 

Merchants are now realising that scalability should be an essential part of their systems and they need to find the right platform to grow their business with. 

Consumer habits and demands are constantly changing. Retail giants like Amazon have set the bar high when it comes to online shopping and now customers expect the same experience from other retailers. Businesses are feeling the pressure.

Given the competitive nature of the industry, off the shelf options just aren’t cutting it when it comes to being able to create a unique, scalable and affordable ecommerce system. 


In order to stay competitive, you need a platform that has the flexibility to allow for customisations that help you stay on top of consumer demand. 

Building a business and eCommerce system to scale requires an open API, like with the BigCommerce platform, that enables developers to create an entirely customised user experience for their customers. This is what will set you apart from your competitors and make sure you stay on top of your game. 

Customisations like this can be cost-heavy, particularly if you’re dealing with an old legacy platform that has far too many closed doors. Your best move here is to move to an open API system so that you have extensibility at your fingertips. 


With traditional open source legacy platforms like Magento, it is your responsibility to keep on top of maintenance and upgrades so that your site performs. This won’t involve simply pushing a button but will require technical help, and you will have to pay extra, on top of your regular monthly costs. You will also be required to download and install any updates when they are released and any delay on this could put your website at risk of hackers and data breaches. Not ideal.

With a SaaS solution, these costs will be covered in your monthly fee as standard and automatically rolled out, meaning no downtime and no risk on your site security.

Reliability is extremely important for consumers. They expect your site to perform through every extreme it is pushed through, and that includes the mayhem of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

When you consider that 81% of businesses surveyed said that over 60 minutes of downtime can cost them over $300,000, being on the wrong platform can be a hefty price to pay.  Take into account that the difference between a 99.9% uptime and a 99.99% uptime can mean 40 minutes downtime per month, it really is imperative businesses choose the most reliable platform they can.

BigCommerce state that some businesses hosted on their platform have seen a dramatic surge in their normal traffic load during peak periods, occasionally running at three times the amount and with 100% uptime.



The Shift to SaaS

With more and more merchants realising that they need to make the shift from their old legacy platforms to a more robust solution that will improve overall site performance, BigCommerce Elite agency 5874, have already worked with several retailers to make the shift to SaaS.



JGS4x4 are a merchant selling Land Rover parts and accessories. 

Fed up with slow site speeds, downtimes and sliding organic rankings, they moved from Magento 1 to BigCommerce in October 2017.

Since moving, they have a 12% conversion rate improvement and a 9.6% increase in organic traffic.

Golf Garb 

A retailer of stylish golf clothing for men, women and children, Golf Garb moved to BigCommerce from Magento 1 in October 2017.

Frustrated by the limitations of the previous legacy platform and the costs to keep it running, Golf Garb wanted a more scalable solution.

Since the move to BigCommerce, they have seen a 58% conversion rate improvement and a 8.82% increase in organic traffic. 



The Next Steps

Performance matters. Speed, scalability and reliability all matter. Without them, your business won’t survive another year.

Get a head start on 2020 and begin the process of switching to an eCommerce platform that will provide your customers with a fast and flawless online shopping experience. Say goodbye to legacy and self-hosted and hello to SaaS and exponential growth. 




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