How long are you willing to wait for what you want? In a shop perhaps you’d be happy to join a queue, well, maybe not happy, but accepting. Online however, waiting time patience is a different story. Digital performance analytics firm Dynatrace has recently released research that suggests that nearly half of us won’t even wait for three seconds.
Their research shines a spotlight on a problem website developers have long been grappling with - how to keep e-commerce sites fast in the face of increasing demands for impressive website features that require a huge amount of data to be retrieved per page load.
When buying an item online what kind of website features do you expect? The opportunity to share the page by email, or on a social network to celebrate a purchase, recommend it to a friend, or get a second opinion? The option to zoom in and move around the product, allowing you a chance to take in that fine detail. A ‘quick look’ option for browsing without losing your place? Perhaps the ease of being recommended similar items, or accompanying products?
All these helpful tools, aimed at helping consumers find the information they need and increasing their likelihood of buying something have come with an unforeseen cost - increased load times and decreased sales as impatient users time-out and switch off. In a recent BBC article Matthew Wall explains Dynatrace’s findings that “just a half second difference in page load times can make a 10% difference in sales for an online retailer.”
It is not just that e-commerce websites are now more likely to be packed full of features, page loads are also slowed by the international nature of the industry. It is not unusual for servers to be based in countries far removed from the main consumers of a website’s products. Internet speeds are impressively fast, but if data has to fizz along under seas and soils covering distances as far as the USA to Australia, it is difficult not to be stung by a few seconds delay. Indeed, in the last year alone Dynatrace claim that Australian retail sites have seen an average increase in their page load times from 5.4 seconds to 8.2 seconds. Looked at as a worldwide trend, the average page load has increased 7% since 2015, moving from 4.2 seconds to 4.5.
The challenge faced by retailers and their website companies today is how to reduce the time of their page loads whilst still competing effectively to meet their consumer’s expectations for detailed, interactive and personalised shopping experiences. The answer may lie in a employing a sleight of hand approach.
Website companies are now scrambling to understand and implement pages which ‘feel’ faster. Using techniques such as careful sequencing to select which page features load quickest and interim loading content the industry hopes to fight back. This way e-commerce businesses can be assured that their customers will get the experience they expect delivered at a speed that ‘feels’ speedy.