Using Modern Static Web Tech to Foster E-Commerce SuccessAugust 26, 2015
Running an e-commerce is basically something anyone can do today. However, running a profitable one is a totally different story. The reasons are simple. It’s difficult to differentiate your e-commerce, and the margins are typically very low. In short:
- Lower barrier to entry means there are more competitors.
- It’s much harder to do positioning than with physical stores.
- Price comparison is faster and easier than ever.
- And the list goes on.
Of course, most of the time this means that if the price is even a little cheaper somewhere else, the consumer will simply go there instead.
Squeezed prices mean low margins, which is why e-commerce managers by trade are notoriously known as the best A/B testers out there. In order to still be profitable, they need to get most - if not all - factors that come into play just right: SEO, SEM, retargeting, suggested related products, loyalty programs, newsletters, getting the right color on the put-in-basket-buttons, and so forth.
All this goes towards the one thing that matters most for e-commerce: Volume. To get and convert as much traffic as possible.
How to get traffic is beyond the scope of this article, but a number of important parameters can surely influence conversion once you get that traffic:
- How well are visitors expectations met when they click through?
- Is retargeting tweaked correctly?
- Is buying completed in as few steps as possible?
- Is the user properly guided and supported in all stages?
- Are the right call to actions in place?
- And again, the list goes on.
Trouble is, most e-commerce with any scale both understand and execute this, which again makes it hard to differentiate yourself from the competition.
There is, however, one e-commerce parameter that is gaining a ton of attention these days, and rightfully so: performance.
The faster a site loads, the lower the bounce rate, and the higher the conversion rate.
This has always been the case, but performance is getting extra attention these days for several reasons; mainly the emergence of mobile, and our ever decreasing attention span online.
Modern Static Web Tech
Most importantly, a new way of increasing performance drastically has emerged: Modern Static Websites
The reason traditional websites are rather slow is essentially that they need to be built on a server every single time they are visited (as opposed to a static web server, like Harp).
So 1,000,000 visitors means 1,000,000 builds.
It’s slow, you risk having malware injected in the build-phase, and it’s obviously expensive to scale.
But for a long time, it’s been necessary to ensure that the visitor gets a contemporary version of the site.
With Modern Static Web Tech (MSWT) you can actually host even complex sites entirely on a specialized CDN hosting service like netlify. That not only virtually eliminates all risk of malware, but also decreases load-times by as much as 90-95%.
You see, with MSWT, instead of building the site on-demand on the server, the site has already been built up front, (1,000000 visitors = 1 build). It only needs caching on CDNs and no servers per say. And this simply makes it insanely fast.
If there are any elements on the site that needs to be dynamic, like the shopping basket and checkout, they can be handled by 3rd party plugins. Like Snipcart. That way you don’t have to host it yourself, and can rely on a major service to do that for you. Your own site is hosted on the CDN and therefore is lightning fast.
The decreased load-time might be even more important than you imagine, as shown by major AB tests from companies like Google and Yahoo.
Amazon published a test a while back that showed that 100ms extra load time in many cases meant 1% lower conversion.
Psst: If you want to list and explain all the benefits a JAMstack/static site will bring to your client, check out this post.
Even a very small site will typically shave at least a couple of seconds off the load time (and often a lot more than that) by going static on a specialized CDN host. So you do the math.
My guess is that in a few years, performance will be as much of a hygiene factor as anything else.
But the truth is that right now, plenty of sites, even larger e-commerce sites, suffer from poor performance especially in the form of high load-times.
So if you have an online shop or are planning on making one, consider using a modern static website. It might just make the difference you are looking for. And as a conclusion, here's how simple it'll be to create your static e-commerce site:
How to make your e-commerce using MSWT in 3 steps
Choose your static site generator. More than 100 exist, with Jekyll being the most popular.
Choose your hosting setup, deployment setup, and CDN (shameless plug: not only does netlify provide the fastest service in the market, but it’s the only one to provide all this as a one-click service).
Choose your shopping cart service (shameless plug ii: Snipcart is now market leader in e-commerce for static sites, just saying).
There. Your site is now several times faster than 90+% of the competition. And when they catch on, at least you won't be any slower. :)
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