How Your Site Speed Is Hurting Your eCommerce Business

If you operate an eCommerce business, you may already be aware of how crucial it is to have a site that loads quickly across all devices.

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If you operate an eCommerce business, you may already be aware of how crucial it is to have a site that loads quickly across all devices.

But, a 2017 study from Akamai Technologies reveals just how blazingly fast your site needs to load in order to keep visitors from jumping ship. We’re talking lag times measured in the milliseconds that can add up to millions of dollars in lost revenue every year.

Akamai found that a mere 100-millisecond delay in load time dinged conversion rates by up to 7 percent, and optimal load times for the lowest bounce rates ranged from 700 milliseconds to 1.2 seconds.

Clearly, consumers have been conditioned to expect sites to load very quickly. Site speed is an important metric for every online business, but it’s especially mission critical for eCommerce stores. Your customers will be less likely to make it all the way through checkout if your pages don’t render fast enough for their preference.

Simply put, the faster your site loads, the better experience your customers will have, and the more revenue you’ll rake in.

Here are four big reasons why you should prioritize your page loads:

It Makes a Huge Difference in Your Conversion Rate

Any improvement you can make to your conversion rate is a direct improvement on your bottom line.

Online retailers have reported that even seemingly minor increases in their page load times have had a significant impact on their conversions. According to Akamai, Walmart saw a 2 percent improvement in conversions for every second of improvement in load time, and Staples improved conversions by 10 percent by boosting page load times by 1-6 seconds.

Akamai found that pages that converted were up to 26 percent faster than pages that didn’t convert.

When it comes to load times, online consumers are unforgiving:

  • On desktop, pages that loaded in 1.8 seconds experienced the highest conversion rate (12.8%)
  • On mobile, pages that loaded in 2.7 seconds experienced the highest conversion rate (3.3%)
  • On tablets, pages that loaded in 1.9 seconds experienced the highest conversion rate (7.2%)

The difference in conversion rates can be seen even in tenths of a second. While desktop pages that loaded in 2.7 seconds saw a peak conversion rate of 12.8 percent, pages that loaded just 100 millisecond slower — or 2.8 seconds — saw a 2.4 percent decrease in conversions.

When lag times reach a full 2 seconds, conversions drop dramatically: 25.1 percent on tablet, 26.2 percent on mobile, and 36.5 percent on desktop.

Think about this: You could be losing as much as a third of your revenue due to a slow loading website.

If an eCommerce site generates $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost $2.5 million in lost sales every year, according to Kissmetrics.

You’ll Never Be Able to Compete Against Amazon Without a Fast Site

Amazon is the gold standard for online selling today. The retail giant owns about 44 cents out of every U.S. dollar spent on eCommerce, and makes up 65 percent of the growth in U.S. online retail.

Not surprisingly, Amazon is absolutely obsessed with improving its site speed. The company was an early innovator in studying how latency rates in the milliseconds affect its conversion and bounce rates, sales, and revenue.

Greg Linden, a former Amazon software engineer, once described how the company deliberately delayed page loads to measure the results.

“In A/B tests, we tried delaying the page in increments of 100 milliseconds and found that even very small delays would result in substantial and costly drops in revenue,” Linden wrote on his blog.

All of this focus on speed has paid off for Amazon. According to digital research firm Catchpoint, Amazon’s U.S. desktop site managed to deliver a page speed below 2.6 seconds during the 2017 Black Friday period, while its U.S. mobile site loaded within 1.7 seconds.

That’s faster than the average page load time of 3.21 seconds for the internet at large, based on tests performed on millions of websites done by Pingdom, and much faster than most eCommerce sites. The average eCommerce site takes nearly 9 seconds to load, according to Kissmetrics.

Your Search Rankings Will Suffer with Slow Speeds

Site speed is important to Google. The search giant began using site speed as a ranking factor in 2010. It recently announced that mobile loading times would be a signal by July 2018 for its “mobile first” rankings that favor pages that load fast on mobile devices.

Google’s algorithm will compare your page speed to those of your competitors, and give you bonus points for having a faster site.

“A search result for a resource having a short load time relative to resources having longer load times can be promoted in a presentation order, and search results for the resources having longer load times can be demoted,” Google revealed in a patent filing made in 2014.

From an extensive test of 143,827 URLs, QuickSprout found that “faster site speed did correlate with higher Google search rankings… Overall page load time is especially faster for the first five positions. Rank 6 was, on average, 20 percent slower than rank 1.”

To be fair, site speed is just one factor among many that Google uses to determine your search rankings. But in a hyper-competitive environment for eCommerce dollars, every improvement in your Google rankings can translate into real revenue.

Speed Is Critically Important in a Mobile-First World

According to Google’s recent research, the average mobile landing page takes an eternal 22 seconds to fully load. However, 53% of people indicate that they will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

That’s why Google is cracking down on slow mobile sites by using page load times as a factor in its mobile-first rankings, as mentioned earlier.

Site speed isn’t just important for mobile SEO. It’s critical to the success of your business, period.

That’s because much of eCommerce is moving over to the mobile web. Mobile-powered commerce sales totaled $1.357 trillion worldwide in 2017, making up 58.9 percent of digital sales — a significant jump from 40.2 percent in 2015, according to a report from eMarketer.

“A majority of first-time digital buyers are now completing transactions via mobile devices, specifically smartphones. And as this audience becomes digitally mature—moving from browsing to buying—their purchase frequency and amount spent online will only increase,” the research firm said.

While conversions are lower on mobile than on the desktop environment, that trend will likely flip as smartphones become the preferred way to shop. If your business isn’t keeping up with consumers’ high expectations for a quick and painless shopping experience, you’re going to be left behind.

One final word on site speed: You only have one chance to make a first impression. According to Akamai, 28 percent of customers won’t return to a slow site.

Consumers equate speed with legitimacy. You quickly lose credibility as a business if your site loads too slowly, which is a revenue killer to say the least.

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