Amazon Secret Weapon

How long is too long for a web page to load in 2017?

According to the data of about 10 billion user visits to online shopping sites, three seconds. After that, more than half of shoppers will have left the page.

Thirty per cent of online customers will not return to a slow site, while a website load time delay of just 100 milliseconds can impact conversion (sale) rates by 7 per cent.

The figures were revealed in the latest Akamai State of Online Retail Performance report, which compiled one month’s worth of data from leading retail sites (predominantly from North America).

The biennial study found that while half of all consumers use their smartphones to browse for products and services, only one in five completed purchases on those same devices, suggesting that even the smallest improvement to speed and user experience could translate into increased sales.

It is a theory being explored by retailers the world over.

For example, the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, tested the consequences of a slow website when it artificially delayed its pages by small amounts, and found that every second of improvement of their website’s loading time would increase conversion by 2 per cent.

US online giant Amazon was one of the earliest adopters in the study of seconds and milliseconds, and how they influence consumer behaviour.

With Amazon soon to hit Australian shores, while promising to “destroy the retail environment in Australia,” analysts are calling on local retailers to prepare for its impending threat.

Comprising almost 66 per cent of the $53.1 billion growth in online retail in the US last year, Amazon’s market cap is now greater than the combined total of the largest eight traditional retailers in the US.

In Australia, Amazon’s rollout is expected to be gradual, with an initial focus on consumer and home electronics, non-perishables and other household necessities.

Before its launch, the retailer is expected to collect price points on everything, before setting prices at a 30 per cent discount.

Amazon’s secret weapon has really been putting the customer first, focusing on the experience the end user has,” said Jason Hatch, Akamai senior director of product management.

“Amazon really focused early on trying to measure the effect that experience had on the actual revenue and business metrics.”

Mr Hatch said Amazon’s arrival would “absolutely” leave Australian retailers with no choice but to optimise online shopping experiences.

According to Akamai’s report (for which data was compiled by SOASTA), online shopping pages that converted to sales were up to 26 per cent faster than those that did not, while optimal load times for peak conversions ranged from 1.8 to 2.7 seconds from desktop, to mobile and tablet.

Conversion rates were most common on desktop, with an average of 4.1 per cent, followed by tablet (2.7 per cent) and mobile (1.4 per cent).

Mr Hatch said that while the internet around the world had improved in speed and efficiency, websites had become more complex, which often strained the online experience.

“Images are bigger, codes are larger and the complexity of a page is so much greater that websites are actually getting slower rather than faster,” he said.

“This report is about understanding what it means if my page loads 100 milliseconds slower. How long do people spend at my site, how many items do they look at, what can I do to prevent them leaving?”



Credit: Sydney Morning Herald article by Lucy Cormack, 20 April 


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