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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : January 26, 2012

Top-performing e-commerce websites take longer to load

Studies have emphasized the need for fast-loading e-commerce websites to accommodate the short attention spans of today's consumers. But a new study from site optimization company Strangeloop found that the top-performing e-commerce websites take longer to load than the average. Do consumers really care that much about load times?

by Helen Leggatt

strangeloopLogo.pngE-commerce web pages are getting bigger and bigger. While the average homepage in 1995 contained just 2.3 objects (files such as images, CSS, and JavaScript) today that figure is nearer 98 objects. Consequently, despite increased Internet speeds, some sites are taking longer to load.

Before conducting their research Strangeloop assumed that the top-performing e-commerce websites would have faster load-times than the average, but they were wrong.

Even though much previous research has shown that consumers won't hang around long to wait for a website to load - about 2-3 seconds at most - Strangeloop's research found that the top-performing e-commerce sites were taking, on average, 14.39 seconds to load, 28% longer than the average of 11.21 seconds.

Why? Perhaps consumers are willing to trade off a little waiting around in return for improved site functionality and experience. Videos, interactive displays and product information presentations all increase the time to load, but they also greatly improve site stickiness, conversion rates and, ultimately, revenue.

"Site speed is a constantly moving target," said Jonathan Bixby, CEO, Strangeloop Networks. "We're always hearing numbers from one-off reports, but trying to compare these reports is an apples-and-oranges exercise. Our goal in conducting these annual surveys is to establish a baseline across a large set of sites, then measure these sites every year and revisit that baseline. By doing this, we can identify changes and trends that will be useful to site owners and the web performance community at large."

Tags: e-commerce, load times, online retail, research, site optimization, website speed

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