How does the E-Commerce website loading speed influence customers’ purchase decisions?

AliExpress, eBay, Amazon… – following the footprints of online shopping giants, the E-Commerce industry has grown rapidly over the past decades.

Dropshipping has become the new hip trend and new online stores are opening at the speed of light.

While browsing through AliExpress the other day, I’ve noticed that videos of products are starting to take over this marketplace, but… it takes significantly longer for them to load, so I usually just swipe through them until I come to the picture, which eventually loads instantly.

I think this is the part where the expression “Time is Money” comes in handy.

The number of milliseconds we wait for the product image or video to load determines whether we stay, make a purchase, abandon the cart or just simply shut down the browser and go watch Netflix instead.

But how does it actually work?

According to Dr. Fogg, human behavior relies on three basic elements:




Motivation falls into one of three categories: sensation, anticipation or social belonging. Translated to marketeer language – it means consumers are motivated to buy things based on the promise of pleasure, avoidance of pain, a sense of hope or fear or the promise of social acceptance.

Here ability refers to financial ability, knowledge or time required to purchase or use your product.

Bam, we got to the time.

According to images optimization expert Cloudimage, 40% of E-shoppers leave a website that loads in more than 3 seconds.

Source: cloudimage.io

The motivation, therefore drastically declines as the loading time of the page increases. No motivation = no trigger to buy.

Three hormones in your visitors’ brains most determine the sales effectiveness of your e-commerce website: dopamine, cortisol, and oxytocin.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter often called the ‘reward chemical’. It’s tied to addiction – it makes us feel good. Researchers have recently found that instead of causing you to experience pleasure, dopamine actually causes you to want, desire, seek out and search.

The trigger we mentioned before is actually the dopamine level.

If put it in an equation:

Speed of website = dopamine release = motivation to buy or disappointment and cart abandonment.

Cloudimage did extensive research on how the e-commerce industry can enhance the loading speed. They concluded that the most common factors of slow loading are:

  1. Lack of web-optimized images
  2. No CDN delivery
  3. Images are not responsive to different devices

You can read the whole white paper on product image optimization, which states an existing set of rules in order to get that dopamine hype out of your buyers. The top rules that caught our attention are:

  1. Deliver WebP to compatible browsers, and compressed JPG/PNG to non-compatible browsers
  2. Using multi content delivery network infrastructure
  3. Leverage the HTML5 <picture> element to make images responsive to different screen sizes
  4. Leverage JPEG compression to reduce image size
  5. Generate all images server-side and deliver the right image size at the right moment of customers’ journey

So there you have it. The hormone named dopamine is the main culprit on why speed matters. Cater to its needs and watch your conversion rates increase in no time.