How Retailers Can Fight Against Slowing E-Commerce Sites
A typical retail site today takes 6.2 seconds to load its primary content — well short of the ideal load time of three seconds or less. Not only are e-commerce pages too slow to load, they appear to be getting slower rather than faster. Last summer, a typical page took 4.9 seconds to load primary content. This represents a 27 percent slowdown in just one year.
What Impact Does This Slowdown Have on Retailers?
According to a widely cited study by Aberdeen Group, a one-second delay in page load time equals, on average, a 7 percent loss in conversions, 11 percent fewer page views and a 16 percent decrease in customer satisfaction. Not surprisingly, offering a faster user experience has a positive impact on business metrics. Wal-Mart has famously announced that for every one second of performance improvement, its site sees up to a 2 percent increase in conversions.
Why the Dramatic Slowdown?
The sheer growth in web page size and complexity is largely responsible for this deterioration in performance. The median retail page is 1,677 KB in size and contains 100 resources (e.g., CSS, image files, etc.). Last summer, the median page was 1,007 KB in size and contained 82 resources. In other words, a typical page has grown by 67 percent in just 12 months. This rate of growth is unprecedented in the history of the web.
Poorly Implemented Responsive Web Design (RWD)
Responsive design is the practice of constructing a single website so that it renders in the ideal size and format across all platforms. While RWD has been hailed as an alternative to overly simplified mobile sites, critics claim that responsive pages are inherently slow. This criticism is understandable. A few months ago, I conducted an informal survey of 60 popular sites that use RWD and found only 20 percent delivered an even remotely speedy user experience.