3 Ways E-Tailers Can Make Their Sites Faster
There was a time when retailers could only impact their bottom line during the course of normal business hours. Now in the era of "e-everything," retailers enjoy the ringing of cash registers 24/7. From desktops to mobile devices, online stores cash in on consumers’ insatiable appetites to shop wherever and whenever. This trend helped brick-and-mortar retailers expand their reach. However, it's also become an ongoing challenge, fueling the compelling argument as to why companies, particularly online retailers, should care about serving faster web pages to their users.
The magic number to keep a visitor from abandoning your web page is just three seconds. You have less than three seconds to engage visitors, whether your goal is to serve content to as many people as possible or to convert browsers into buyers.
Countless studies have found an irrefutable connection between load times and key performance indicators, ranging from page views to revenue. For instance, big-box retailer Wal-Mart experienced up to a 2 percent conversion increase on its website for every one second of speed improvement. When auto parts retailer AutoAnything.com cut its web page load times by 50 percent, it experienced a 13 percent increase in sales. In a world where every second counts, retailers can hurt their users’ experience — and ultimately their own bottom line — if they don't meet expectations of how long it takes for a page to load.
According to a 1999 study by Zona Research, the time an average user was willing to wait for a page to load was eight seconds. Seven years later, that number decreased to four seconds. By 2010, 57 percent of online shoppers would abandon a page after waiting three seconds for it to load.
What makes a page slower? Performance culprits are a page's size and complexity, which typically translates to slower load times. Currently, of the top 100 retail websites as ranked by Alexa.com, the median page is 1354KB in size and contains 108 resource requests. Images comprise 50 percent to 60 percent of the average page's total weight. Of the top 100 sites, 43 percent failed to compress their site's images, which is a core optimization technique.