April 20, 2022


9 min. read

What is Next.js? - Benefits for your e-commerce store

By Ton Koop

What is Next.js

Next.js is a Javascript framework that allows users to implement additional functionalities, structures, and optimizations in their React web applications. 

It is based on React - a JavaScript library for creating frontend user interfaces (UI). Next.js has several features, such as Automatic Static Optimization and Server-side rendering, that enables the development of fast web applications and also makes it easier to build React-based applications.

Let's discuss server-side rendering, for example. Unlike React-based applications, where developers can only render their website content in the client-side browser, Next.js allows for server-side rendering. This is a major feature and advantage of Next.js over React. 

Client-side rendering means that the initial rendering of the user interface happens on the user's device. The server sends empty HTML files without any content and the Javascript instructions. Then, the web browser compiles everything and renders the page to the user. 

On the other hand, in server-side rendering, the server generates the HTML page on every request and sends it to the client side along with the Javascript instructions for page interactivity. 

Next.js is a very popular tool among the developers' community. It is used by top companies like Netflix, Uber, Twitch, Staples, Hulu, and several other global brands. In this article, we will learn more about this framework and why it is a widely used tool.

What are the features of Next.js?

Built-in CSS support

Next.js allows developers to import CSS files from Javascript files and node modules. This means that Next.js `import` is not limited to Javascript alone. By default, Next.js uses styled-jsx for styling, which allows you to write scoped and encapsulated CSS to style your web page. You don't have to worry about unintended side effects when you make changes to any CSS component, as the styles you write for a component do not affect other components. Next.js also allows you to write global styles, which you can apply to the entire application.

File-system Routing

Next.js has a routing system based on the pages' concept. In react, developers must install additional tools like React Router for page routing. However, Next.js includes this tool and automatically provides routing when a file is added to the `pages` directory. It also supports nested routes, dynamic routes, and linking between pages.

Image Optimization and Component

The image component in Next.js is an extension of the image tag in HTML and built-in optimizations to improve the user experience better. The Next.js image optimization considers image resizing and provides the right image sizes for each viewport and device using modern image formats like WebP. In addition, the Next.js image only appears when they enter the viewport, enabling faster loading of web pages. 

Incremental Static Regeneration

Next.js's Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR) functionality combines Static Site Generation (SSG) and Server-Side Rendering (SSR). 

Next.js allows developers to use static generation per page without needing to rebuild the whole website. ISR allows you to generate static pages during the runtime instead of the build time. This means that the web page is generated on the initial request, and while the visitor is waiting for the data to be fetched, a fallback page is displayed immediately. 

Once the data has been fetched successfully, the final page is cached, and a cache version of the page is generated so subsequent visitors have a faster response time. You can also set when the page should be revalidated and updated.

Fast Refresh

Next.js provides immediate feedback when you make changes to your React components. So, once you change your code, the edits will be visible within seconds. The fast refresh feature is enabled by default on versions 9.4 and beyond. 

Search Engine Optimization

Meta tags are important aspects of SEO. And fortunately, Next.js helps to solve issues relating to independent titles, keywords, and portrayals for each web page. Next.js has a built-in Head component where you can add these elements to the `head` of the web page.

TypeScript Support

Next.js offers an integrated TypeScript experience and allows you to easily add Typescript to your new or existing project without any configuration. 

Data Fetching

Developers can render their content in various ways in Next.js. They can pre-render the page with Server-side Rendering or Static Site Generation and update or create web content at runtime using Incremental Static Regeneration.

  • Server-side Rendering (SSR): This refers to the process of pre-rendering web pages on the server when a user requests a page. The page interactivity is added when the pre-rendered page gets to the browser. This process speeds up loading time and is great for SEO purposes.
  • Static Site Generation (SSG): This refers to pre-rendering your web application at build time and not at the user's request in the case of SSR. In other words, the page will be rendered immediately, and the user won't have to wait for it to load in the browser. This process also speeds up loading time and is great for SEO purposes.

Lazy Loading

The Next.js lazy loading feature helps to provide a better user experience and web page optimization. If your website's loading takes more than 30 seconds, your visitors might abandon your website. This issue is what Next.js aims to solve with lazy loading. 

Lazy loading, also called code splitting, allows developers to improve their sites' performances and speed up the loading times. Here, web resources are delayed from loading at load time until they are needed instead of loading every resource at once. 

Why should you use Next.js?

Next.js is an excellent solution for developing fast and SEO websites. If you have an eCommerce business, we recommend that you use Next.js if you wish to:

  • Outperform your competitors
  • Increase the effectiveness of your marketing channels
  • Boost your revenue and conversions
  • Reduce your maintenance expenses
  • Provide a better user experience for your clients
  • Scale your company easily

Benefits of using Next.js for eCommerce stores

Every eCommerce business wants to improve conversion rates alongside sales. To achieve that goal, eCommerce brands must employ new technologies to provide a unique user experience that caters to current and potential clients.

The benefits of Next.js

Next.js has features that help eCommerce businesses create quick and versatile websites and webshops. Here are some of the features and their applications:

1. Collaboration with Next.js Live

An collaboration with Next.js

Ecommerce ventures are more successful when marketing, design, and development teams collaborate seamlessly. Next.js lets you create a live URL for your project that you can share, discuss, draw on, and edit code directly from your browser.

Everything possible when you execute Next.js on your workstation is now also possible in the context of remote collaboration. Next.js Live tightens and speeds up feedback loops for eCommerce teams and even supports offline collaboration.

With this advanced collaboration benefit, development teams can reduce the time spent to create a fully functional store and effectively implement iterations based on feedback.

2. Page and Image Speed Optimization

Did you know that the first five seconds of page load time have the highest impact on conversion rates?

Conversions drop by 7% for every second it takes for a page to load, implying that page speed is money for eCommerce businesses. 

Next.js image loading and performance are now considered world-class in every project. Automatic Image Optimization works with any image source (CMS, data source, etc.), optimizes images on-demand, and only loads images when the client requests them.

Next.js handles image optimizations with performance, ensuring that websites are always quick to load, resulting in a better product discovery experience for customers and improved conversion rates.

3. Internationalization

Ecommerce businesses have excellent access to a global audience of customers. However, for an eCommerce website to be relevant to a global market, the content, products, and checkout forms must be available in the consumer's native language.

In Next.js, the built-in internationalization routing allows you to statically serve different languages on your site at build time with lightning speed.

4. Search Engine Traffic and Analytics

More visits to your website means more purchases. Next.js caters to the on-page UX factors that affect SEO and make your site easier to crawl for search engines. 

Images, for example, are always rendered to avoid Cumulative Layout Shift, a Core Web Vital that Google has begun to use in search ranking.

Beyond SEO, Next.js provides analytics to help you understand how your customers interact with your online store. You'll see customer interactions through metrics like:

  • Time to Interactive (TTI)
  • User experience score
  • Speed index

The Next.js team collaborated closely with Google and the Web Performance Group to bring analytics to life.

The Next.js support for application analytics gives your eCommerce business an advantage. It allows you to immediately discover where improvements are needed so that customers continue to enjoy the best shopping experience possible. Next.js Analytics takes this data and creates a Real Experience Score, which shows your app's performance and ease of use.

5. Page Pre-rendering

Next.js pre-render every page by default. This indicates that instead of relying on client-side JavaScript to build HTML for each page, Next.js does so ahead of time. 

Next.js uses server-side rendering to pre-render the static elements on a page then. This pre-rendering of web pages leads to improved SEO and performance.

Which companies are using next.js?

With all the great benefits listed above, it is no surprise that Next.js is used in building the world's biggest e-commerce brands. These are websites with a large number of users, high traffic, and data generated in real-time. Here are some of the companies that have built their platforms with Next.js:

*AT&T

An platform that is build with Next.js

Telecommunications giant AT&T is using Next.js to power its online storefronts across the United States. The brand uses Next.js's architecture to integrate its online shops with third-party systems such as their CMS, their PIM, and their ERP.

*Walmart

Walmart using Next.js

Walmart also benefits from the extreme speed of Next.js. Their webshop contains thousands of products that all load at lightning speed. Next.js also allows Walmart to integrate personalisation features and good personal data security into the platform.

*Nike

Nike using Next.js

Nike wants a fast website because it wants to convert visitors into customers. Next.js is the driving force behind Nike's website. This gives them the features and performance benefits to attract and convert new visitors.

Why we like using Next.js at Afosto

At Afosto, we understand that every business wants to boost conversions and improve sales. And to achieve this, eCommerce businesses must employ the right tools and technologies to create a distinctive shopping experience for their users. This is why we love and use Next.js.

Next.js helps eCommerce businesses to provide a unique shopping environment for their customers by providing them with the needed tools and support. 

Questions about Next.js

Next.js is a React framework with many features that provide the building blocks for creating web apps. Next. Js is the framework that manages the customization required for React and provides additional structure, features, and optimizations for an application.

Software projects use Next.Js because it enables developers to create full-stack apps with a single language and development kit while also providing a better user experience, resulting in a faster initial page render.

Many big E-commerce websites use Next.Js. Netflix, AT&T, Lego, Doordash, Nike, and Walmart are some of the big names that built their websites with Next.Js as of April 2022.

There are two ways to start a project with Next.Js

* The Automatic setup

* Manual setup

We recommend you go check the [beginners course](https://nextjs.org/learn/basics/create-nextjs-app) if you are new to Next.Js.

**System requirements include:**

* [Node.js 12.22.0](https://nodejs.org/) or later

* MacOS, Windows (including WSL), and Linux.

Written by
Ton Koop

My name's Ton, co-owner at Afosto and holder of a master's degree in International Business and Management. At Afosto, I take the lead in driving our clients' entrepreneurial success. My extensive expertise in e-commerce and a deep-seated passion for business development are central to my approach in supporting retailers. Leveraging Afosto's advanced headless commerce platform, I provide inventive solutions that boost efficiency and foster business growth. I'm all about sharing knowledge – it's through this we achieve success together.

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