Brands and e-commerce platforms stand to lose huge amounts of revenue should their web sites prove lengthy in load time. Soasta, a market-testing and monitoring platform, recently released its biannual “The State of Online Retail Performance” analysis for spring, which reveals the pitfalls of sluggish user experiences.
The study reviewed insights from top online retailers spanning a one-month period that included 27.7 billion beacons’ worth of data, which converts to approximately 10 billion user visits. Its analytics engine applied its business-critic user experience metrics and key performance indicators that included bounce and conversion rates, and session length.
The results showed the need for retailers and fashion apparel brands to act on consumers’ mobile sensibilities — and fast. The report found that retailers who invest in mobile, social and e-mail strategies typically benefit from a 30 percent boost in sales and 25 percent more order values on average. Research on mobile devices and in-store price comparisons has driven up usage frequency. “To turn more of these browsers into shoppers, retailers should examine the barriers to completing transactions on their mobile sites,” researchers of the report said.
Those who are early to adopt will see big gains. For example, Fanatics, an athleticwear online retailer, discovered that 56 percent of its Thanksgiving Day sales occurred on mobile devices.
However, retailers and brands that take a proactive approach need to ensure page load times are as quick as possible. The research found that pages with the highest conversion rates were nearly 26 percent faster. To secure peak conversions, optimal load times ranged from 1.8 to 2.7 seconds spanning all devices. “On desktop, pages that loaded in 1.8 seconds experienced the highest conversion rate. Mobile pages that loaded in 2.7 seconds had the highest conversion rate and load times that were 1.9 seconds or faster saw the best conversions on tablets,” the report said.
Bounce rates mirrored consumers’ expectations — they expect comparable experiences regardless of device. “On desktop, pages that loaded in one second experienced the lowest bounce rate (13.1 percent). On mobile, pages that loaded in 700 milliseconds had the lowest bounce rate (14.1 percent) and on tablets pages that loaded in 1.2 seconds had the lowest bounce rate (14.2 percent),” authors of the report said. The research found that if a web site takes longer than two seconds, bounce rates rise to 103 percent.
Pages that provide render times between 0.9 and 1.5 seconds had the lowest bounce rates, the research showed. “Start render time — the moment when content begins to render in the browser — is a strong metric for measuring the user-perceived performance of a page. This metric is a solid measure of how long visitors are willing to look at a blank screen before they begin to leave a site. Not surprisingly, this user patience threshold is low,” said the report.
Despite the fact that mobile conversions were the lowest of devices — only 3.3 percent of mobile shoppers purchased an item — these shoppers expect their experience to mirror desktop versions.
Milliseconds mean money in the e-commerce landscape. “Pages that loaded 100 milliseconds slower — in other words, in 2.8 seconds — experienced a 2.4 percent decrease in conversion rate. Smartphones and tablets were affected more, with 7.1 percent and 3.8 percent decreases in conversion rates, respectively,” the report said. “Desktop pages that experienced a two-second delay — loading in 3.8 seconds instead of the optimal 1.8 seconds — had conversion rates that were almost 37 percent lower.”
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