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If you thought speed matters when it comes to sports cars, wait until you get a load of ecommerce. Studies have shown if your site takes more than four seconds to load, some 25 percent of first-time visitors will bounce out of it in search of more timely gratification. Amazon has calculated a load page slowdown of one second costs it $1.6 billion in annual sales. With numbers like that on the line, it becomes very important to consider the factors affecting the speed of your ecommerce site—and doing everything you can to streamline them for maximum velocity.

Your Hosting Service

When you clicked the link to retrieve this story, your browser sent a message in the form of a “request” to the server hosting the site upon which it resides. That server then responded by forwarding the file packet containing this article to your device. One of the primary factors determining the alacrity with which the server responded is its ability to process multiple requests simultaneously. Remember, you’re but one of more than three billion people using the web every day. Now this is not to say all of them are asking for this article at once, but a huge number of people are trying to access other data on the server from which this article originated. The better the server hosting your site is at dealing with a lot of requests at once, the faster your site will load when users ask to see it.

Type and Size of Files

The pictures you display will make your ecommerce site load slowly if they aren’t optimized for the web. The larger the file, the longer it will take to load it. However, if you do optimize your images for the web and predetermine the width and height of the pictures rendered on your site, your customer’s browser can create space for them automatically, rather than waiting to deal with whatever comes up. Free website templates from providers like Shopify already have these features built in to keep load times as short as possible. Similarly, its content management systems (the interface you use to place content on your site) are specifically designed for ecommerce to help speed your site’s loading time.

An Abundance of DNS Lookups

A web browser looks for the IP address associated with your URL when it is tasked with retrieving your site. Known as a DNS lookup, this typically happens very quickly. However, if you have a lot of linked You Tube videos, a live Twitter feed and other externally linked elements, the browser has to retrieve each of those items in turn. While this is still a relatively fast process, each one slows your loading time a bit more. It’s better to host as much of your site’s content as possible on the server where the rest of its files reside.

Broken Links

From time to time, information you link to on other sites will be removed by the owners of those sites. This will result in a broken link on your site. This slows your load time because the user’s browser takes a moment to try to retrieve the link—only to discover it isn’t there. Regularly scouring your site for broken links will minimize these occurrences and make your site load more quickly.

These are just four of the factors affecting the speed of your ecommerce site. Other factors include employing an optimized mobile solution, posting moderately sized social sharing buttons and minimizing redirects. Focusing the management of the back end of your ecommerce site on these elements will supercharge its performance, helping you turn shoppers into customers.

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