Site Speed Matters

With more and more consumers shopping online these days, retailers are ramping up spending on search engine marketing (SEM), paying close attention to search engine optimization (SEO), and revamping landing pages. Yet the time, effort and money used to maximize sales could be in vain if the traffic they’re driving to the site causes it to slow down or even crash. For those brick and mortar stores considering a B2C site, this could be crucial information as they attempt online retailing for the first time.

It’s no secret that website performance matters to users. And one of the most overlooked success factors for a landing page is speed. Site speed directly affects bounce rates, conversion rates, user satisfaction, revenue, search engine page rank and virtually every other business metric worth tracking. If a site takes too long to load, users leave and find another resource. And many of them won’t come back. Not so long ago, eight seconds was cited as a tipping point beyond which users would abandon a website. Today’s rule of thumb is two seconds. Consumers expect quick, readily available access to information, and if they don’t get it at your website, they’ll find another site that provides it, and faster. The bar is high for online retail sites, and it’s rising all the time.

User patience is not linear. Almost no one abandons a site for being too slow within the first second. But beyond that first second, absent some feedback (such as the browser title bar showing the page title), users start to bounce at an accelerating rate. By three or four seconds a typical site might lose half its potential visitors and buyers. Of course the specific thresholds vary by website, user action, intent and other factors, but the principle remains the same: time is money.

Speed is critical in today’s fast-paced world. And a slow website affects brand perception. Visitors’ attitudes toward a brand are formed within a few seconds, and a slow website that they never see is a lost opportunity to make a good impression. More importantly, this lost opportunity equals revenue loss. Retailers can save themselves a lot of money by asking themselves the three critical questions: How fast are your landing pages? How does your web development team monitor and ensure all landing pages are loading fast? And realistically, how much can you spend to positively impact speed?

The upside is tools exist today to help ecommerce sites increase web performance without breaking the bank, which is perfect for those retailers running a brick and mortar, and investing in an online shopping channel. Automating site speed through cloud routing and web performance optimization technologies can offer retailers the web performance solutions at attainable price points, resulting in long term benefits.

Contributed by Coach Wei, CEO of Yottaa, a company focused on web performance optimization, as well as improving page speed, site monitoring.