Speed is of the essence for eCommerce sites. Load time is no longer just a technical concern that can cause minor insignificance for customers; it’s a significant problem that can inspire them to give up on your site, go elsewhere, and never return. Indeed, 40% of shoppers saying they will wait no more than three seconds before leaving a retail or travel-based eCommerce site, while 47% say they expect a site to load in two seconds or less. On mobile, patience lasts longer, with customers estimated to be willing to wait between 6 and 10 seconds before leaving, but that figure is dwindling all the time and will continue to fall as public Wi-Fi improves and mobile sites get better.
It’s easy to dismiss such stats as simple impatience. After all, brand loyalty still counts for a lot, and that’ll be enough to inspire longer dwell times among customers eager to get that must-have item from you and you alone. Even if it doesn’t, they’ll come back to find what they wanted – if they were looking for it in the first place, that’s enough to suggest they’re interested in making the purchase and a couple of seconds delay here or there can’t change that intent. What matters is what happens when the customer is on their site; small margins in the loading don’t matter all that much.
But they do. Small margins they may be, but in a Micro Moments landscape where there’s a seemingly infinite amount of choice at the tips of customers’ fingers, even the slightest delay can have a big effect in three key ways.
Conversions and Revenue
In a 2008 survey of over 160 organisations, The Aberdeen Group found that a one second delay in page load speed can result in 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and critically a 7% decrease in conversions. On the reverse side, in 2008 Amazon found that even the most incremental of improvements can have a beneficial effect, with revenue increasing by 1% for every 100 milliseconds of increased speed. Site speed may be measured in seconds, but its real value it in pounds and pence.
It’s a simple equation that’s as true online as it is in-store: happy customers are not just likely to spend money, they’re likely to return and spend more money. Just as customers don’t want to spend time queueing or looking for items in a physical store, they don’t want to wait around online either. Research has found that 79% of shoppers who experience a poor performing website are less likely to return to it, while another 44% said they’d tell their friends about their bad experience. Customer satisfaction is not just about giving the customer what they want; it’s giving it to them when they want it.
It’s not just the customer who’s interested in load speed; Google is too. In 2010, the company announced it was factoring site speed into its ranking algorithm, saying: “We encourage you to start looking at your site’s speed – not only to improve your ranking in search engines, but also to improve everyone’s experience on the Internet.” Site speed isn’t a major ranking factor, but it clearly has some influence that could hamper even the best looking, most popular of eCommerce sites. More significantly, if that slow load speed means your site is generating less traffic or fewer links, it’ll mean it fails to satisfy other key Google signals and get a lower ranking anyway.
A slow loading site may not seem like a critical problem, but first impressions count for a lot, and if it’s a bad one, customers are unlikely to look twice. Think of load speed not as a technical issue, but one of simple customer satisfaction and the profit to be made from it. The more efficient their experience of your site, the more likely they are to spend and return, the more your revenue is likely to increase.
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