2 Seconds is the new threshold of acceptability for eCommerce web page response times
A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Akamai examining eCommerce web site performance and its correlation with an online shopper’s behavior reveal that two seconds is the new threshold in terms of an average online shopper’s expectation for a web page to load and 40 percent of shoppers will wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a retail or travel site.
Additional findings indicate that quick page loading is a key factor in a consumer’s loyalty to an eCommerce site, especially for high spenders. 79 percent of online shoppers who experience a dissatisfying visit are less likely to buy from the same site again while 27 percent are less likely to buy from the same site’s physical store, suggesting that the impact of a bad online experience will reach beyond the web and can result in lost store sales.
In 2006, Akamai conducted a similar study to understand consumer reaction to a poor online shopping experience. The 2009 study is a follow up to examine how customer expectations around online shopping have evolved in the past three years.
Based on the feedback of 1,048 online shoppers that were surveyed, Forrester Consulting concluded the following key findings:
• Consumers become impatient when pages take longer than two seconds to load. 47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, representing a significant evolution in consumer expectation over the 2006 study, which showed customer expectations at four seconds or less. Forrester found that 40 percent of consumers will wait no more than three seconds for a web page to render before abandoning the site.
• Online shopper loyalty is contingent upon quick page loading, especially for high-spending shoppers. 52 percent of online shoppers stated that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty, up 12 percent from the 2006 study.
• Shoppers often become distracted when made to wait for a page to load. 14 percent will begin shopping at another site, and 23 percent will stop shopping or walk away from their computer.
• Retail and travel sites that underperform lead to lost sales. 79 percent of online shoppers who experience a dissatisfying visit are less likely to buy from that site again, up 17 percent from the 2006 study. 64 percent would simply purchase from another online store, up 16 percent from the 2006 study.
• Mobile is an emerging shopping channel, and performance is a key to consumer adoption. While only 16 percent of consumers have shopped via mobile or smart-phones, consumers are interested in using these devices for research and shopping activities in the future. One third of consumers report wanting to shop via their smart-phones in the future.
The study also shows that consumers continue to be frustrated by online shopping sites’ performance, which leads to an increase in site abandonment. 23 percent of dissatisfied online shoppers attributed their dissatisfaction to the web site being too slow or taking too long to load, while 57 percent of online shoppers insist on a rapid checkout process, up nearly 10 percent from three years ago. One-third of shoppers who abandoned a recent shopping session were dissatisfied with a retail or travel site’s performance. These results demonstrate that a poorly performing web site can be damaging to retailer’s brand and reputation.
“Today’s consumers demand a fast, engaging and secure online shopping environment when searching for a product online. We see a direct relationship between online revenues and site performance and therefore, we have to ensure our site performs well and loads fast,” said Michael Cooper, Vice President and General Manager, HomeDepot.com. “Akamai helps us achieve these goals. Leveraging Akamai’s Dynamic Site Accelerator solution, we can deliver an enhanced and reliable online shopping experience to our customers, and shoppers will want to keep coming back to our site.”
The Forrester study also states that usability, site content and speed are key factors to online customer loyalty. By taking the time to improve the overall site content and functionality, retailers can bolster the overall brand and image of their company. For example, adding rich, interactive and dynamic content to a retail site can help reflect the in-store experience for the consumer, which can lead to increased satisfaction and loyalty from the consumer.
“The takeaway from this study is that site performance remains a major factor for keeping visitors coming back to a retail site. Online shoppers demand – and expect – quality site performance which is a requirement for optimal online success,” said Pedro Santos, Chief Strategist for eCommerce at Akamai. “With two seconds as the new benchmark for a retail or travel site to load, it leaves little room for error to maintain a company’s loyal online customer base. Leveraging Akamai's Dynamic Site Accelerator services and our globally-distributed network, retailers have been able to speed up page response times, meaning less shoppers abandoning the site due to slow response times and more shoppers making their purchases as a result.”
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