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What’s the Average Core Web Vital Score for E-Commerce Stores?

What's the average core web vital score for e-commerce stores.

Core Web Vitals aren’t going anywhere, and page experience is becoming more important with each day. So important, in fact, that when a site meets the Core Web Vitals thresholds, research shows that users were 24 percent less likely to abandon page load.

If you feel like you’re behind the pack when it comes to Core Web Vitals (CWV), you’re not alone. There are many websites, including e-commerce stores, that struggle to achieve passing Core Web Vitals scores.

Which part of CWV is tripping up e-commerce stores the most?

In this post, I’ll highlight the common shortcomings of a few major e-commerce stores so you can find inspiration for improving your own store.

Why Core Web Vitals Matter for E-Commerce

Google’s Core Web Vitals were first released in March of 2020. According to Google, it was released to “provide unified guidance for quality signals that are essential to delivering a great user experience on the web.”

That does include what you commonly think when you hear “user experience,” like accessibility and ease of navigation. Your Core Web Vitals score also measures more complex metrics.

To have CWV explained further—including those that cover visibility, interactivity, and visual stability—you can check out my in-depth guide on the topic.

So why do Core Web Vitals matter for e-commerce?

User experience is an important component of any website, but especially an interactive website like an e-commerce store. In fact, user experience is a known ranking factor for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

When your e-commerce website offers a solid user experience, it’s a win for your customers and a win for your business.

Baseline Good Performance for Core Web Vitals

When comparing your website to performance metrics, it’s important to know the baseline for good performance. Google has shared the parameters for their three web metrics—LCP, FID, and CLS—as shown below:

Baseline performance for core web vitals.

Knowing the baseline for good performance enables you to compare your website performance—which you can see on the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console—to the standards. This also enables you to effectively track growth as you make improvements.

To learn more about the Core Web Vitals report and how to use it effectively, check out our Google Search Console guide.

What Our Data Shows About Core Web Vital Scores

Just how well do e-commerce sites stack up to Google’s proposed baseline performance?

To answer that question, my team at NP Digital analyzed four e-commerce sites in a variety of industries.

Before we get into the data, though, there are some definitions we need to cover.

There are two major website performance tools used to evaluate CWV. They are Pagespeed Insights and GTmetrix. While you can use either to get an idea of your website’s performance, it’s best to use both to gain a fuller picture.

With that said, they do have slightly different metrics that go into their performance scores.

According to PageSpeed Insights, these are the metrics and their definitions:

  • Largest contentful paint (LCP): The amount of time to load the largest content element visible to the user. This metric is important because it indicates how quickly a visitor sees that the URL is actually loading.
  • First input delay (FID): The time from when a user first interacts with your page (e.g. click, scroll, etc.) to the time when the browser responds. This is essentially the delay before the page becomes interactive.
  • Interaction to next paint (INP): A metric that assesses a page’s overall responsiveness to user interactions by observing the time that it takes for the page to respond to all click, tap, and keyboard interactions that occur throughout a user’s visit.
  • Cumulative layout shift (CLS): The sum total of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of the page. This is important because having pages elements shift while a user is trying to interact with it is a bad user experience.

Note: Google announced that INP will replace FID as a Core Web Vitals metric starting in March 2024. The main difference between the two being that FID looks at the browser response time on only the first interaction while INP measures the browser response time on all user interactions.

GTmetrix takes a less technical approach. According to GTmetrix, they use the following metrics to assess CWV:

  • Speed index: How quickly the contents of your page are visibly populated. A good user experience is 1.3 seconds or less.
  • Time to interactive: How long it takes for your page to become fully interactive. A good user experience is 2.5 seconds or less.
  • Total blocking time: How much time is blocked by scripts during your page loading process. A good user experience is 150 milliseconds or less.
  • Performance: Your Performance Score is essentially your Google Lighthouse Performance Score (a percentage and its corresponding letter grade), as captured by GTmetrix, with their custom audits, Analysis Options, and browser and hardware specifications.

GTmetrix also scores LCP and CLS, as defined above by PageSpeed Insights.

To understand the average core website vitals scores for each e-commerce site, my team analyzed five page types:

  • Home page
  • Product page
  • Category page
  • Blog article
  • Conversion page (i.e. checkout)

To get the full picture, we used both performance tools mentioned above: Pagespeed Insights and GTmetrix.

Are there certain page types with the most problems? Are there certain metrics that present the biggest challenge for e-commerce sites?

Let’s find out.

E-Commerce Site 1: Average Core Web Vitals Scores

Let’s first look at the website for an American retail store specializing in jewelry and accessories for tweens and teens.

Reviewing the scores from Pagespeed Insights, the only metric with a solid pass is FID.

Page speed insights.

While the other three metrics don’t fail, they do need improvement. This is especially true for interaction to next paint as it will replace FID in March 2024.

We also see here that the mobile score falls behind the desktop score indicating a greater need to focus on mobile improvements.

Let’s look at the GTmetrix scores for this site. Again we see failing scores across the board, with the exception of CLS.

GTmetrix data core web vitals.

So what issues are contributing to these low Core Web Vitals scores?

Some issues noted on the website include:

  • Serve images in next-gen formats
  • Remove unused JavaScript & CSS
  • Reduce render-blocking resources
  • Implement deferred loading for offscreen images
  • Reduce initial server response time
  • Ensure text remains visible during webfont load
  • Reduce blocking from third-party code

E-Commerce Site 2: Average Core Web Vitals Scores

Now let’s take a look at the Core Web Vitals scores for an American food gift retailer that also has brick-and-mortar locations.

Starting with Pagespeed Insights:

Pagespeed insights core web vitals.

Like the first e-commerce site, this site has a passing score for FID, but other metrics require improvement. Improvements to metrics like INP, LCP, and CLS will increase page load times and improve user experience. This can only be beneficial as it will encourage user interactions and conversions.

The desktop score “Needs Improvement” and the mobile performance is “Poor.” This should be another critical area of focus for this site—especially as nearly half of all e-commerce purchases will be made by mobile by 2024.

Now onto the Core Web Vitals scores from GTmetrix:

GTmetrix data core web vitals.

We see “Good” scores for LCP and CLS, but “Poor” scores for the remainder of the metrics.

One highlight is the conversion page for this site has a performance score of 72 percent. They may lose some potential conversions prior to the conversion page based on user experience of the previous pages. However, a conversion page with fair to good performance metrics is likely to mean a greater conversion rate.

What can this website do to improve? Here are some general suggestions to improve the performance metrics and user experience of the overall website:

  • Minify JavaScript
  • Reduce unused JavaScript
  • Serve images in next-gen formats
  • Properly size images
  • Avoid enormous network payloads
  • Ensure text remains visible during webfont load
  • Set explicit width and height requirements for images
  • Serve static assets with an efficient cache policy
  • Reduce blocking from third-party code

E-Commerce Site 3: Average Core Web Vitals Scores

The third e-commerce site we analyzed is an American retailer of RVs, camping equipment, outdoor gear, and associated accessories.

Let’s look at the Core Web Vitals score breakdown as provided by Pagespeed Insights:

Pagespeed insights core web vitals.

Once again, we see that the only metric with passing scores across the pages is FID. However, two pages—product page and blog article page—do have some passing scores in INP and CLS.

For e-commerce websites, we’d ideally want to see the product pages performing exceptionally well because this is where the conversion process begins… or doesn’t. So keep a close eye on your product page scores across the board when evaluating and optimizing.

Similar to the first two e-commerce sites we scored, desktop performance outperforms mobile performance here.

So where does this site stand with GTmetrix? Let’s take a look:

GTmetrix data core web vitals.

Once again, we’re seeing a lot of failing scores across the board. The blog article page for this site does have a barely passing score of 62 percent, or “D.”

So what can this website do to improve their core web vital scores?

  • Reduce unused JavaScript
  • Serve static assets with an efficient cache policy
  • Defer offscreen images
  • Eliminate render-blocking resources
  • Serve images in next-gen formats
  • Reduce unused CSS
  • Properly size images
  • Reduce blocking form third-party code
  • Avoid enormous network payloads

E-Commerce Site 4: Average Core Web Vitals Scores

The last e-commerce website in our analysis is a global sportswear apparel brand.

So let’s take a look at the Pagespeed Insights:

Pagespeed insights core web vitals.

Here we see the first instance in our analysis of pages not passing FID. More specifically, category page and blog article. We also see significantly more average scores with a failing grade than we did in the previous three e-commerce sites.

Now onto GTmetrix:

GTmetrix data core web vitals.

We see passing grades for CLS and LCP (except for the conversion page) but failing grades everywhere else. This site—more specifically, the conversion page—has the lowest performance percentage (12 percent) of all the sites we analyzed.

Obviously, this has a significant impact on this website’s conversion.

Just imagine, a user lands on your website and makes it all the way to the conversion page only for the page load times and overall performance to drop significantly.

This website likely sees quite high abandoned cart rates. Unfortunately, an abandoned cart email series is unlikely to sway users, because as soon as they return to the site they experience the same issues.

Overall, this site has a lot of room for improvement. Some steps to take include:

  • Reduce unused JavaScript & CSS
  • Ensure text remains visible during webfont load
  • Eliminate render-blocking resources
  • Reduce the impact of third-party code
  • Avoid enormous network payloads
  • Serve static assets with an efficient cache policy
  • Avoid an excessive document object model (DOM) size

While none of these issues stood out as disproportionality worse than the others, we’d advise working to minimize DOM size first and foremost. This will set the site up best for the transition from FID to INP in 2024.

Common Areas for Improvement

There are a few areas for improvement that came up often across all four e-commerce sites.

For websites one and two, the most significant issue was the impact of third-party code blocking the main code on the website. This impacts load times across the board and contributes to low Core Web Vitals scores.

How important is this issue?

Load times are proportionally related to conversion rate.

The highest conversion rates for an e-commerce site happen on pages with load times between 0-2 seconds. Conversion rates drop by 4.42 percent on average with every extra second of load time between 0-5 seconds.

This means you need to get your load time as close to 0 as possible if you want to maximize your conversion rate. Every millisecond counts.

When you consider that the websites above had third-party code blocking the main thread for upwards of 3,320 milliseconds, you better believe that reducing third-party code is a must.

Sometimes reducing third-party code can be tricky. It’s there to support website plugins, data tracking platforms, and the like.

The most obvious step is to perform a plugin and script audit. You may be surprised to find there are many inactive plugins on your site that aren’t being used but still slowing down load times.

If there are plugins and scripts you simply can’t remove, though, consider deferring or pre-scheduling JavaScript.

These steps can significantly decrease the time it takes for your website to initially load.

Speaking of load times, do you know what else can impact them significantly? Enormous network payloads. This was a particular issue on websites three and four.

Think of a payload as a packet of data. When you load a website, the payload must be presented and unwrapped before the user can begin to use it.

The good news? There are a number of things you can do to minimize your network payload and reduce load times. Reducing the impact of third-party code is one of those things.

You can also optimize your videos and images, as well as remove clutter from CSS and JavaScript files.

What E-Commerce Site Owners Should Focus on to Improve Core Web Vitals

The goal of Google’s Core Web Vitals is to ensure a quality user experience for all.

As an e-commerce site owner, though, that vague definition can be overwhelming. So too can the technical jargon associated with CWV and its metric definitions.

So what should e-commerce site owners focus on to improve Core Web Vitals scores?

It’s true that we looked at numerous metrics using both Pagespeed Insights and GTmetrix. However, CWV really boils down to just three baseline metrics:

  1. Largest contentful paint
  2. First input delay/Interaction to next paint
  3. Cumulative layout shift

By improving those three metrics alone, you’ll see a positive impact across your website performance scorecards. This is because these three metrics encompass all of the other metrics you see being used on performance reports, like time to interact and speed index.

With that said, here are things you can do to most greatly improve each of the metrics above.

Largest Contentful Paint

The LCP is the measure of how long it takes for a website to load its largest elements. This includes images, videos, and text blocks.

For an e-commerce website specifically, these large elements are likely to be in the form of hero images (homepage), banners, product page galleries, and product copy.

The most effective improvements will come from reducing server traffic load and reducing content load times. You can achieve this by:

  • Utilizing a content delivery network (CDN)
  • Implementing caching (server-level and browser-level)
  • Optimizing images
  • Reducing image sizes
  • Resolving render-blocking Javascript and CSS

A combination of the above will free up server-side space to ensure that your website loads efficiently even in the face of high traffic volume.

Interaction to Next Paint

While INP will not replace FID until March 2024, you can still pre-emptively optimize INP. The plus side is that improving INP will also have a positive impact on FID.

Interaction to next paint is the average time it takes for the page to respond to user interactions across the entire visit. This includes clicks, taps, and keyboard interactions.

Just think about how poor of a user experience it would be if a user was browsing a product image gallery and each click required extensive time to next interaction! Laggy interactions are a conversion killer.

Here are steps you can take to reduce INP:

These steps will ensure that user interactions take the front seat for every page of your website.

Cumulative Layout Shift

Cumulative layout shift is the sum total of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected shift that occurs during a visit on a page.

The most common causes of unexpected layout shifts are elements without defined dimensions. For an e-commerce site, that might be a newsletter widget or a “spin the wheel” style pop-up:

A screenshot of a game

It’s easy enough to see where your CLS’s are coming from so you can remedy the right elements. A few examples of improvements you might need to make include:

  • Include width and height size attributes on all image and video elements
  • Reserve space for late-loading content (e.g. ads, widgets)
  • Avoid loading new content without user input
  • Place late-loading content lower on the page

While unexpected shifts will happen, especially if you’re loading third-party advertisements or widgets, you can do your best to minimize how often they occur.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are Core Web Vitals important?

Google’s Core Web Vitals were created as a measure for improving user experience. It’s important that you implement CWVs on your website for two reasons. First, it can provide a smooth web browsing experience for your e-commerce customers. Second, it signals to Google that you are serious about delivering a quality experience. Passing Core Web Vital scores will help you to rank better on search engine results pages.

What are the 3 Core Web Vitals?

The three Core Web Vital metrics are largest contentful paint, first input delay, and cumulative layout shift. In March of 2024, interaction to next paint will replace first input delay as a metric.

Conclusion

Performance metrics like Core Web Vitals are a guideline for you to follow. You may not have passing Core Website Vitals scores now, but as long as you’re working to improve your overall performance, you’ll be in a better position.

Just take a look at the four e-commerce websites we covered. They are far from perfect, but all four are still well-known and highly-visited online stores. Unfortunately, smaller websites are likely to see a larger impact than the sites we highlighted. However, when you focus on improving the three main CWV metrics—INP, LCP, and CLS—the rest will fall into place.

What is your biggest struggle when it comes to achieving passing scores on Core Web Vitals? Let us know in the comments below.

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