Headless 101

The importance of site speed for ecommerce websites

October 2023

Headless architecture is key for delivering a fast site speed for better conversions.

We’ve been living in the monolithic worlds of Shopify, Big Commerce, Big Cartel, Squarespace, and Wix for years now — nearly a decade, in fact. These platforms were groundbreaking upon their initial releases. They empowered entrepreneurs across the globe to set up their own digital online stores without needing the support of enterprise funding or technical prowess in web design and development. However, ecommerce has been bubbling over the past 10 years and more online businesses are popping up daily. Multiply this effect by 10x due to the recent worldwide pandemic, and we are now living in a predominantly digital shopping world. 

What creates winning ecommerce in a saturated world of online stores? 

Your site speed may be the root cause of lower conversion rates


In a saturated market with loads of online shopping competition, how do businesses succeed? A lot of people would say — “It’s about marketing. How good is your Facebook marketing agency? What ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend) have they been able to achieve for your store? If the answer is < 2.2, then you are losing.”
This answer, while accurate to some degree, is a little short-sighted. Yes, a strong marketing strategy is a baseline requirement for online success. Yet, there are hundreds of thousands of Meta Marketing shops around the world that achieve these metrics. So, if everyone has the capability to set up a “winning” advertising strategy, is anyone really competitively winning at all? 

But, what comes after marketing? How do you take your sales to the next level and scale your business to heights you could never reach to this point? What actually works? 

The answer is actually more simple than people might think. Subsecond load time—that’s it. Of course with a site that’s fast, you’ll also require the ability to have it fully featured with loads of customization options, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Let’s start with an initial paint and time to render of  < 1000ms—sounds easy enough. But, why is this the key? Let’s break it down.

Why is website speed so important for ecommerce?

There is a direct correlation between decreasing your load times and seeing increases in conversion rate


As your average page load time increases, conversion rates are proven to decline. Data sourced from YOTTAA

As we mentioned above, site speed is the key to standing out in a saturated ecommerce market. Your website’s site speed correlates directly with the user experience, your SEO performance, and ultimately your conversion rate. Think about it: when someone visits your site and has a less-than-ideal experience, there are plenty of other options available to them to find in just a few clicks. So, in the ecommerce market, improving your site speed is the missing piece to keep your users satisfied. 

Conversion rate

Let’s start with a common sense application of site speed vs. conversions. Let’s say I send 1,000 well-vetted prospects to my online store and 10 of those prospects swipe their digital credit card, becoming a buying customer. Then my conversion rate is 1%. In this scenario, my website has a load time of 4 seconds. Now, what will happen if I send the exact same amount of traffic to my store but this time my website is loading significantly faster? 

Of those same 1,000 prospects landing on my website, I may actually convert up to 120 or 140 of them with a website that is loading in under 1 second. Think about it, I haven’t changed anything as it relates to my traffic or advertising strategy. Those things have remained constant, and yet my business has just multiplied its sales and revenue.

User experience

Imagine you’re searching for a particular product. You type your query into Google and find the first result that seems the most relevant to what you’re looking for. You tap on the link and notice the website is taking its good old time to load the page. What do you do almost immediately? Hit the back button. That interaction is true for almost all users, too. A user’s likelihood to have a lower average time on the page and a higher bounce rate increases significantly with each second a page delays in loading. And, should the user wait until your page loads, it’s more likely than not that they’ll have a less-than-ideal customer experience. Plainly and simply, unhappy users don’t convert. 


Google’s algorithm favors websites that load quickly. In fact, site speed is so important for SEO that Google has ranked page speed as one of the top-ranking SEO factors for search engine result pages. SEO and user experience go hand-in-hand here in terms of website engagement. If Google recognizes that your on-page engagement metrics are falling short, it may deduce that you aren’t the best resource for what people are looking for, thus prioritizing other websites with better engagement metrics and relevance. 

The challenge of increasing Shopify site speed

Why Shopify store owners hit a wall when optimizing their site speed


So, why are online businesses failing to make their websites faster than a 3-5 second load time? Because it's really difficult — that’s why. Not to mention, it is also unheard of. Find a website that loads in under one second and browses page to page just as fast. We’ll wait…

Getting your site load speed down to under a second is hard because websites have been exactly the same for years and years. Considering the client-side/browser bottlenecked rendering, full JavaScript and CSS packages, non-static and non-CDN optimized pages, synchronous JavaScript, etc.—these things all slow down your site.

Sure people are compressing images, using CDNS, and minimizing JavaScript, but they always seem to hit a point of diminishing returns. After a certain level of effort, people have begun to accept that you can’t really break through that subsecond floor. 

Let’s look at the average load times on Shopify, the world’s leading ecommerce hosting solution. 


The load times showcased above are abysmal. But that’s the world we live in. Until now, the sheer thought of a website that loads in under 1 second was a fairytale. Before we go further, let’s dive into what piece of our ecommerce experience we are looking to optimize. 

How can a headless approach improve your site speed?

Headless architecture supports faster ecommerce experiences compared to traditional architecture


In a traditional approach on Shopify, the frontend and the backend of your website are coupled together to keep your website functioning. In a headless commerce approach, the frontend and the backend are decoupled. We do this because the frontend is where our site speed frustrations lie, but we are still able to use Shopify’s strong backend functions for its operational logistics. 

By taking a headless approach, you are able to develop the frontend of your website in any way that you like without the limitations Shopify imposes. When done correctly, you can build a frontend experience with cleaner code and less reliance on apps that slow your site down. That frontend will connect to Shopify’s Storefront API to continue to perform backend functions, like product and inventory management, shipping logistics, and anything relating to the checkout experience. A headless architecture will help your business achieve the site speed you’ve been looking for, and with a faster site speed, you’ll see improved website performance, conversion, and SEO performance while fostering a better user experience for your customers.

For ecommerce businesses looking to stand out in a crowded marketplace, the solution lies in headless ecommerce. A headless architecture is truly the only way to break out of Shopify’s wall of site speed to drastically improve conversion rates. And with a headless ecommerce solution, like bl!nk, it doesn’t get much easier. bl!nk is the only no-code headless ecommerce platform on the market, delivering blazingly ecommerce experiences that can be fully managed by teams with non-technical experience. 


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“In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.”

“In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.”
— Olivia Rhye, Product Designer

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