Web Performance
17. July 2014


Competition is fierce in ecommerce and appealing offers and product selections alone are no longer sufficient for getting ahead of the competition. Online shoppers demand a good user experience comprised of user-friendliness, site reliability, and speed (responsiveness). Of these components, website speed continues to grow in importance due to its direct impact on sales and conversions.

Many studies and articles have been published on stressing the importance of website speed and its impact on sales. A slow loading and unresponsive website is a major deterrent, as the average online user will only tolerate load time of up to 2 seconds. In addition to keeping shoppers engaged, improving website speed will put you ahead of the competition for the following reasons:

Satisfied Shoppers
No one likes to wait in line and everyone have at least left a store once without buying anything because the checkout line was too long or moved too slowly. The same behavior occurs if a website is taking too long to load, shoppers will not hesitate to abandon it and move on to a competitor site.

The average online user is extremely impatient and every millisecond can have an impact on their purchasing behavior and decision making process. Statistics show people will visit a site less often if it’s slower than a close competitors’ by more than 250 milliseconds.

Conveniently accessible social tools offer an easy outlet to share and be vocal about any dissatisfying experiences one may have suffered on your site. According to Nielsen research, 92% of people trust recommendations from their friends or family more than all other forms of marketing. With people being more connected and willing to share information (through social media) than ever before, a slow and unresponsive online shopping experience is the last thing any ecommerce site wants to be associated with.

The bottom line is people will not wait for a slow loading and are not afraid to share their experiences. Ecommerce website managers must ensure they keep users satisfied by providing great online experience, starting with a fast loading site.

Increased Sales and Conversions
For modern online retailers, keeping up with the competition means constantly juggling multiple components to increase customer satisfaction. Great offers, visually appealing site design and website speed are among the top components. However, no matter how great the offers are or how visually amazing the site is, a slow loading website is not going keep users engaged, let alone convert sales.

One of the biggest challenges online retailers are facing is reducing shopping cart abandonment. According to statistics in an Unbounce post, “The total cost of abandoned shopping carts for online retailers has been estimated to be over $18 billion a year.” The same statistics also reveal that 18% of those abandoned carts are the result of slow page-load times. That figure translates into more than $3 billion in lost sales per year for ecommerce sites because of the inefficiencies of the checkout process. Still not convinced? Here are a few more notable statistics that show how much each second is worth when it comes to e-commerce sales:

  • Reducing load time by 3 seconds increases revenue by 7-12%
  • If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second delay in the average site load time could potentially cost the site owner $2.5 million in annual lost sales
  • A site that loads in 3 seconds or more yields 22% fewer conversions than a site that loads in one second

Website speed significantly impacts the bottom line and steps to improve it should be taken whenever possible.

Higher SEO Rankings
It’s every business’ goal, especially those that rely heavily on the web for sales, to improve their ranking in search results. While there are certain “SEO fundamentals” that should be followed to get a site off the ground, website speed is a ranking factor that seems to be growing in importance.

Google has recently released a patent, published in February of 2014, indicating the impact website speed will have on search rankings. In short, the patent states that Google certainly does take page speed into account and even compares site speed with other sites appearing for similar queries. So, what’s the big deal? Google will actually provide a ranking bonus to the page that has the faster loading time among the relevant queries, giving that page a bump in organic search results (yes, this means a leg up on competitors).

Here is the statement referenced from Google’s patent

A search result for a resource having a short load time relative to resources having longer load times can be promoted in a presentation order, and search results for the resources having longer load times can be demoted. The demotion can, in some situations, result in a search result for a resource having a short load time being presented earlier in the order than a search result for a similarly-relevant resource having a longer load time.

An ecommerce website that delivers a user-friendly experience, starting with a fast load time, is more likely to sustain competitive advantages. From satisfying shoppers to achieving higher search engine rankings, the importance of website speed must not be overlooked and constantly accelerated when possible.

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