Our engineering team has been working hard in the background for the last few months to launch our Content Delivery Network (CDN for short), and as of last week the rollout of the Bigcommerce CDN is complete.
What is a Content Delivery Network?
A CDN helps your store load at lightning-fast speeds for all of your shoppers, no matter where they are in the world. So if you’re located in California and sell to shoppers in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK for example, your store will load extremely fast for everyone.
Without getting too technical, here’s how it works. Our CDN basically copies all of the photos and other files (what we call static assets) from your Bigcommerce store to over 20 different data centres (these are known as CDN nodes) around the world. Then, instead of loading these files from our main data centres in Dallas and Seattle, they are loaded from the data centre that is closest to where your shoppers are.
Enough of the technical mumbo jumbo — let’s get to what you care about most: How will a CDN help you sell more?
Faster Page Loads = Better Conversion Rate
You don’t need to understand how it works, but a CDN is so important because page load times are critical to the conversion rate of your Bigcommerce store, which is the percentage of shoppers that turn into paying customers.
The longer a page takes to load, the higher the chance of a shopper “bouncing” — that is, visiting your store once, leaving and never coming back. This chart from our friends at KISSmetrics shows just how important page load times are in relation to bounce rate, or page abandonment:
KISSmetrics have put together an excellent infographic discussing page load times and the effect they have on bounce rate, which you can see here.
How Much Faster is My Store?
The biggest speed gains will be experienced by shoppers who are closer to one of our CDN nodes, which are located in London, Los Angeles, New York, Sydney, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong and Singapore.
How Website Performance Affects Shopping Behavior
You can see from the chart above just how important page load speeds are in reducing page abandonment, and a CDN is one of the best ways to increase page load times; but how does a website’s performance actually affect a shopper’s behavior?
As you can see from the stats above, the performance of a website is absolutely critical in turning shoppers into buyers. The most important metric from the stats above is:
A 1 second delay decreases customer satisfaction by about 16%
Long story short — your online store needs to be lightning quick for shoppers, no matter where they are and a CDN makes that happen.
CDN = Better Search Rankings
Search engines are increasingly factoring page load times into their ranking algorithms, so the Bigcommerce CDN may also help your store rank better in search engines such as Google.
How to See Your Page Load Times
Google Analytics (free) includes a nifty Site Speed Reports section where you can see how long pages in your Bigcommerce store are taking to load.
As of last week, you’ll have started to notice your store’s page load time trending down as a result of the Bigcommerce CDN rolling out. Remember, the measurements reported by Google Analytics are an average taken from the shopper’s browser, and the speed gains will heavily depend on where your shoppers are physically located and the quality of their broadband connection.
You need to have Google Analytics enabled on your Bigcommerce store in order to get the Site Speed report. If you haven’t already enabled Google Analytics, it’s easy to do. Just read this article in our knowledge base and follow the steps.
Do I Need to Enable the CDN?
No, there’s nothing you need to do to enable the CDN on your Bigcommerce store. It’s already enabled (as of last week) and is of course absolutely free for all clients on all plans. We hope you enjoy the decrease in page load times and increase in your conversion rate.
The CDN rollout is one of many things we’ll be announcing between now and the end of the year which have been designed to help you sell more, in line with our new tagline. A CDN isn’t something you can “use” per se, but as you can see, it can have a big impact on page load times and conversion rate.