While doing some research this week, I ran across an article from 2008 summarizing research on the relationship between website performance and e-commerce purchasing. While your first thought may be that the article is a bit dated, let’s take a look at the findings — are we there yet?
In the section called Conclusions from Forrester / Akamai Study, Linda calls out 4 conclusions. The earlier sections are worth reading, there is valuable insight in some of the stats, however I’m focusing on the conclusions from 2008 and our response to them.
Conclusions From Forrester / Akamai Study
- Perceived page load times should be no more than two seconds
- Companies direct online sales suffer when not meeting those expectations
- Companies will suffer in-directly across all channels and in the consumers’ perceptions of their brand
- Much of what we found in this survey is in the control of the online retail or travel company directly, including some which are quick wins
Quoted from Linda Bustos’ article, Every Second Counts.
The first conclusion is that page loads should be no more than 2 seconds. 2 seconds! I’m sure this bullet point brings to mind a few sites we’ve used that we can point at and say “yep, they need this advice.” And at the same time, give ourselves some space on our own site, “We’re working on it…” or “We’ve made a lot of progress…” Are you realistically evaluating your site against this metric? Do you know where you stand?
And then we ask, “So what?” But the second bullet point drives it home. “Online sales suffer when not meeting those expectations…” When you consider where your business is now and what you would like to do to improve your business, this needs to be on your list. For some companies this may be a small factor, but for some this may be quite large. Either way you need to think about it.
And point 3 relates to the second point by extending the impact of a negative experience to reflect on your brand. In my opinion this is harder to measure. And if you sell through non-company owned sites, it may not mean it’s in your direct control. However it doesn’t invalidate the point, that we should consider the website experience/performance as a factor of our brands.
Lastly, and this is something I don’t want you to miss, the final point essentially says, “Hey dummy, you are in control of your website and you can do something about it.” While that may seem harsh, it is a positive, constructive thing to say. Many things lie outside of our control, but this isn’t. Performance is something that is well within our control. A place that we have the opportunity to make a difference for our business.