In the world of e-commerce, Core Web Vitals are a set of essential user experience metrics that reflect how users perceive and interact with a website.
They are part of Google's initiative to improve web performance and ensure seamless experiences for users.
Simply speaking – the better your site performance, the happier your online customers are.
Read on to learn how improving Core Web Vitals can transform your bottom line.
The three key metrics that make up Core Web Vitals are:
Why do Core Web Vitals matter for e-commerce success?
Optimizing for Core Web Vitals ensures your e-commerce website delivers a smooth and pleasant shopping experience, keeping customers engaged and more likely to purchase.
Moreover, let’s not forget that improvements across major KPIs are only one upside of optimizing for Core Web Vitals.
Beyond the first purchase, happy customers are likely to spend 140% more than unsatisfied ones and are 38% more prone to recommend your online store to other people.
With only 44.1% of 18M origins having good Core Web Vitals, there’s an undeniable opportunity for merchants to gain a competitive edge.
In fact, Reddico went on a hunt to explore how well the Top500 Retail Brands for 2021 are doing in terms of Core Web Vitals. Here’s what they found:
Other retail brands are also leveraging Google’s web vitals to improve user engagement and conversion rates:
This electronics retailer focused on improving their website's load times to enhance user experience. After making changes to their web performance, they saw a 10% increase in their retail website's speed, resulting in a 2% uplift in their eCommerce revenue.
This large online marketplace in India optimized its website for Core Web Vitals and saw a 3-second improvement in FCP (First Contentful Paint). As a result, they saw a 30% increase in their conversion rate and a 25% decrease in bounce rate.
A Dutch furniture retailer saw significant improvements in their Core Web Vitals after optimization. They experienced a 15% improvement in load times, leading to a 20% increase in their session durations and a 14% improvement in their conversion rate.
Optimizing for Core Web Vitals ensures every visit counts from the first time a user loads your website to the “Thank you” page after a successful conversion.
In a collaborative study with Google, Deloitte found that a mere 0.1s improvement in loading speed affects the entire buyer’s journey.
Let’s zoom into how optimizing for Google’s web vitals can have a big impact on your bottom line.
Offering a 0.1s faster ecommerce website with a smooth browsing experience encourages users to stay longer leading to up to 8.6% more pages viewed in a session.
Slow-loading websites often frustrate users and lead them to 'bounce' before the site fully loads. If you improve your online store’s LCP, users can view and interact with your content more quickly, making them 8.3% less likely to go to your competitors.
Pages with high exit rates often reveal issues with unresponsive buttons and links, and unexpected layout shifts leading to frustrated, confused users. By improving FID and CLS, your online store reacts quickly to user interactions and provides a more stable, pleasant browsing experience that prevents premature exits.
With 44% of online shoppers who tell friends and family about a bad online shopping experience you can’t settle for anything less than “delightful.”
Optimizing for speed, responsiveness, and interactivity ensures your online store sees a 5.2% improvement in customer engagement for every 1-millisecond boost in load speed.
And with a great browsing experience, better customer satisfaction score (CSAT) and click-through rates (CTR) are not far behind.
On an e-commerce website, slow interactions during the checkout process can lead to high cart abandonment rates, negatively impacting conversion rates.
Once a user adds an item to the cart, it’s a sprint that needs to be distraction and obstacle-free. This means guaranteeing common bottlenecks like unexpected fees and limited delivery options are eliminated.
But also, guaranteeing 0.1s faster load time, paired with FID and CLS optimizations, will unlock 8.4% more conversions and a 9.2% average order value (AOV) increase.
When choosing an e-commerce platform, it's crucial to consider how well it performs in terms of Core Web Vitals.
Opting for a platform that prioritizes Core Web Vitals can give your online store a competitive advantage and better support your efforts to increase online sales.
Using real-user data from the official Core Web Vitals Technology Report (CrUX), we compared six major e-commerce platforms:
With 57.36% of merchants who pass Core Web Vitals, Shopify is the clear leader when it comes to performance optimization on platform level.
With a team of dedicated experts, the Shopify platform offers personalized help and educational resources to help online store owners prepare for acquiring customers in the ways that matter most.
Amassing 6.3 million websites in their database, WooCommerce shows the lowest % of users passing Core Web Vitals. However, the platform also supports the richest extension ecosystem that provides powerful optimization solutions like NitroPack that solve this issue and boost Woo stores to Shopify-level of performance.
Moreover, to address the widening performance gap and its users' needs, WordPress introduced a Core Performance Team made up of long-time contributors. Since then, we’ve seen ongoing enhancements and a stable roadmap dedicated to performance issues.
Whether you’re on the verge of releasing a new online store or pondering a switch to another platform, there are a few aspects to consider before choosing.
To ensure your online store’s long-term success, you need to have a stable platform that stays on top of the latest performance guidelines. Moreover, you need flexibility in terms of essential tools like credit card payment processing, online shopping carts, inventory management systems, customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, product page optimization, and mobile optimization.
In 2022 during the WCEU, Felix Arntz touched upon why proprietary CMSes are outperforming WordPress and similar open-source platforms:
Both types of platforms come with their strengths and drawbacks.
Proprietary CMSes are optimized to a certain level out of the box but might feel too limiting when it comes to more custom improvements.
While open-source CMSes provide only a basic level of performance enhancements, they do offer greater flexibility to mix-and-match sophisticated optimization solutions like NitroPack on a server level to achieve phenomenal Core Web Vitals results.
Google's Core Web Vitals first became a ranking factor in 2021. In February 2022, the change was fully rolled out to all mobile and desktop searches.
Today, “Google for Developers” “highly recommend site owners achieve good Core Web Vitals for success with Search…”
Earlier this year, during the Yandex source code leak we had the chance to dig deep into how the search engine evaluates websites for SERPs.
And while the Yandex algorithm isn’t the same as the one used for Google Search, it did confirm that content-related requirements dominate how the SERP is built as opposed to speed and performance ones.
In truth, the Core Web Vitals are only a part of Google’s page experience signals. Other signals are mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitials.
During the I/O Summit in 2020, Google directly addressed the relationship between Core Web Vitals and SEO performance:
The quote that stood out the most is:
“In general, we (Google) prioritize pages with the best information overall even if some aspects of page experience are sub-par. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content.”
Moreover, John Muller later highlighted that “...Core Web Vitals is more than a random ranking factor, it’s also something that affects your site’s usability after it ranks (when people actually visit).”
Essentially, if you’re not prepared to offer your visitors the best possible browsing experience, even with huge amounts of organic traffic, your online store will have low conversion rates.
Search Engine Advertising in Google Search is all about landing a higher quality score of the page of an ad so you can lower the cost per click (CPC).
And better Core Web Vitals have been linked to improved SEA results definitively:
Due to their nature, ecommerce websites are more likely to be resource-heavy than, say blogs and service-based websites.
Unfortunately, this means ecommerce websites are more prone to performance issues.
Let’s explore the most common ones and what optimizations to apply:
This can impact your LCP, as it measures the time it takes for the largest content element on your webpage to become visible. If your server is slow to respond, it can delay the process significantly.
How to solve it: Upgrade your hosting service to a more robust, responsive option, or consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to cache your site content closer to your users.
Large, non-optimized images can drastically slow down page load times and adversely affect your LCP. That’s why proper image optimization is a must.
How to solve it: Use next-gen image formats like WebP, and utilize compression tools to reduce file size without losing quality. Implement responsive images using srcset and sizes attributes to serve appropriately sized images based on the user's device.
Heavy reliance on third-party scripts and too many plugins can lead to slower load times and poor FID scores, as these scripts may block the main thread.
How to solve it: Audit and limit the number of third-party scripts, especially those that aren't critical to the initial page rendering. You can also defer or asynchronously load these scripts.
Any elements on your page that move around during the loading process can cause a poor CLS score. This is often due to dynamic content, images without dimensions, ads, embeds, or iframes without reserved space.
How to solve it: Ensure elements have a reserved space to avoid content shifting. This can be achieved by setting size attributes on your images and video elements, or by using CSS aspect ratio boxes.
Using too many heavyweight elements, like videos, high-resolution images, or complex SVGs, can also affect LCP.
How to solve it: Optimize the size and format of your video and complex SVG elements. Consider lazy loading offscreen images and videos to save bandwidth.
As Google uses mobile-first indexing, ecommerce sites not properly optimized for mobile can suffer from poor Core Web Vitals.
How to solve it: Implement a responsive design that adapts to different device sizes and improves the efficiency of your mobile site version.
If a website sends out too many HTTP requests for various elements (images, scripts, stylesheets), it can negatively impact load times, and thus LCP and FID.
Core Web Vitals will continue to evolve as technology and user expectations change. E-commerce businesses must stay up-to-date with the latest best practices to ensure their websites consistently deliver excellent user experiences.
Starting in March 2024, Google will replace First Input Delay with Interaction to Next Paint (INP) as the new metric for responsiveness.
How is the new web vital metric any different? INP assesses a page's overall responsiveness to user interactions by observing the latency of all qualifying interactions during a user's visit to a page. The final INP value is the longest interaction observed.
The interactions that play a part in INP’s calculations are:
And even though INP is still labeled as pending, this does not mean you shouldn’t start preparing right away to improve your INP score.
Optimizing Core Web Vitals is not a one-time fix.
By including site performance in your monthly reports as a KPI you are actively addressing any potential bottlenecks that might affect your bottom line, especially during high-traffic events.
In conclusion, Core Web Vitals play a pivotal role in driving e-commerce success.
By understanding these metrics and implementing optimization strategies, online businesses can create fast, stable, and user-friendly websites that lead to increased engagement, higher conversion rates, and ultimately, more satisfied customers and increased online sales.
Remember, just like a well-organized and responsive physical store, a smooth-running e-commerce website can drive customer loyalty and maximize your online sales potential.
Lora has 7+ years of experience developing in-depth, specialized content for SaaS companies in the CEE region. She has sourced and collaborated with subject-matter experts on site speed optimization for WordPress, Core Web Vitals, and the future of web performance. "If you can't explain it to a 7-year-old, you've not researched it well enough" is Lora's guiding principle when publishing professional insight for complex technical topics.