PageSpeed: Causes of Slow Stores - Part 2

4 Reason an E-commerce Store is Slow

This is part of a series on Google PageSpeed.
  1. Does Page Speed Matter? 
  2. What Causes Slow Speed? (this article)
  3. How Do You Make Site Faster?

In the previous article, we talked about if Google Page speed actually matters (it does), what people say about it, and what is the best position to take on the matter. This article focuses on the why of slow stores and sites. If you are just joining us now, you can probably start here if you are looking for answers, but if you want the backstory check out: Does Page Speed Matter? 

Common Causes of Slow Stores
  1. Plugins, Apps, 3rd Party Libraries
  2. CSS, Javascript bloat
  3. Images
  4. Servers

Let’s look at each of these, but start from the bottom up to understand the problem.

#4 - [Slow] servers can sometimes be an issue
This is a common stereotype in the e-commerce “open source” world. Open source is a great resource, used properly. Stereotyping for a moment.... people select one of the myriads of largely PHP based projects for 1 of 2 reasons: 1) customization, or 2) cheap price tag. Because of this and the fact that PHP replicates like rabbits on the internet, you see a vast spectrum of hosting quality, plus a wide variety of talent configuring those sites, that may not understand the settings “up and down the stack.” These sites can perform fast, if configured properly and served from a good machine. There are many configuration options on servers, of any type, test your site with Lighthouse in the Chrome-family of browsers and eliminate any issues you may find.

Those on the SaaS platforms, this shouldn’t be an issue for the most part except for some of the smaller platforms. Unfortunately, these settings are also out of your reach.

#3 - Images: incorrect size, eager loading, and more
When you upload images, if they aren't the correct size, can really slow down your site. Images are heavy in terms of bandwidth, and Google favors mobile scores that are really affected by a small pipe of bandwidth to your customers phones! Images should be just big enough for the width of the site you are displaying them on. 80 percent of this can be fixed with one image, properly sized for desktop to phone. But if you want to optimize/fix it more you need to use srcset on img tags, so the browser can selectively pick the best sized image.

Eager loading can become a problem. Eager loading is the default for images - they load when they are encountered by the browser. This is a good thing when in the initial viewport (helps your score), but any other image either off canvas (not visible) or further down the page are not needed immediately. When

#2 - Bloated CSS (styles) and JavaScript
CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets are what the web uses to control what the look and feel of the site is. CSS transforms the code (HTML) to look a certain way. Basically, just like images we want this as light as possible, at least on initial page load. CSS largely must be evaluated prior to displaying your store to your customer. The browser blocks (basically pauses) until this is complete.

JS, or JavaScript, is code that runs in your browser and is relied on heavily on the Web today. It is part of any site, and again too much slows things down. Not only does JavaScript have to be transferred to the browser, but it also has to be evaluated which takes time for it to start working. This becomes an issue because it can slow down the time until your site is interactive, which can annoy customers (and lower your PageSpeed score.)

#1 - Plugins, Apps, 3rd Party Libraries
This is the easiest to solve but often put you in a business dilemma. Lots of Plugins, Apps, or Libraries tend to slow things down. You don't have a lot of control on how they do things so you have to accept them hook line and sinker. This is unfortunate because these items are either foundational to your store, but also are a major hurdle to getting fast site speeds, or higher Google PageSpeed scores.

The next part is on improving your store's speed! We look forward to seeing you there: How Do You Make Site Faster?

The state of e-commerce in 2024

Online shopping is up 18.62%. And rising.

The big boxes keep raising the bar. Small businesses must keep up.

The government imposed shutdowns are impacting those that can't do business seamlessly online.

This is the new normal. Shoppers buying patterns have changed. Do you have what it takes to stay ahead?


What is Flex?

  • Is Flex a custom store?

    No, but it can be modified to be what you need.

    You don't need custom, unless you are in 0.1% of our customers. (Trust us... We have been building custom, one-offs for the past decade.)

    While it isn't custom, it can be customized in any aspect, at any level - from colors to workflows, to dashboards, to loyalty programs. Have questions - just ask.

  • Can I customize the checkout?


  • Is this a headless e-commerce solution?

    It can be.

    We think that is the right solution for some, but not all businesses. But we can open the Flex API on your store and act as one without restrictions.

  • What are the long-term costs?

    Infrastructure and maintenance.

    Both combined are less than platform costs, in most cases.

  • How is it priced?

    At numbers that make sense to leave platforms.

    Fixed base package. Fixed add-on features. Project based design, customizations, and imports.

  • Do I have to run my store on your platform?

    Flex isn't a platform. You can run it anywhere.

    For the nerds, we are an e-commerce framework to build stores quickly that can be customized infinitely.

  • Is this a platform?


    We find platforms restrictive for customers desiring this tier of store. If you are coming to us you don't want artificial rules holding you back.

  • Do I have to pay for it all up front?


    But it is more cost effective. We offer pay over time options. You do have to pay for all custom design and development up front. You can get the source code after your payment plan is complete.

  • Can this store be shut down?

    We make resilient stores that can be live anywhere. We can set you up with a site that fails over to another cloud (infrastucture) so we can make it difficult for those that wish to cancel you.

    You won't get shut down buy us because you own it. If you do get taken down, we can get you back up quick!

  • Do you offer discounts?

    Yes, for non-profits. And for our development cohorts.

    We do these cohorts on occasion to improve sections of our codebase. You get a store with a discount and we get to improve our code! Contact us to find out more.

Other recent resources