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A recent article by Jamillah Knowles of The Next Web emphasized just how integral page load speed is to the customer experience, and consequently, to a business’s bottom line. To be exact, the article references research by QuBit  revealing that globally, sluggish sites cost online retailers more than £1.7 billion (2.6 billion US dollars) in lost sales. The data is dramatic, yet retailers continue to forgo sales due to a performance downfall that they have the power to control.
There’s no denying the impatience of the speed-accustomed online shopper demographic, yet a concern for swift page load time appears to rank low (if ranked at all) on e-retailers’ list of priorities when it comes to managing the customer experience. Well-versed online retailers understand the significance of page design and content, payment options, satisfactory shipping, and other common-knowledge determinants of customer satisfaction, but many are still ignoring the issue of latency. Here are a few key points from the article that should get e-retailers thinking about what they’re doing to proactively monitor site speed and the end-user experience:
    • In 2006, users were satisfied with 4 second load times. By 2009, 2 seconds became the acceptable standard.
    • Google deems any site that takes over 1.5 seconds to load to be ‘slow;’ According to Google, response times over 1.5 seconds justify a search engine ranking demotion.
    • Players as prominent as TicketMaster and Barnes & Noble are making customers wait too long
    • Faster pages result in increased traffic and site stickiness
    • Customers are more likely to take desirable actions related to marketing efforts if offers are delivered quickly and error-free

So, which retailer would you prefer to be – Retailer A who disregards page load time, turns customers away, gets knocked by Google, and contributes to the 2.6 billion dollar loss in e-retail sales? Or site speed savvy Retailer B who monitors application performance, fosters customer loyalty and retention, and takes full advantage of the proliferating E-commerce market? And from the customer experience perspective, are you willing to wait in Retailer A’s long virtual lines when Retailer B offers a shopping experience free of delays?

Looks like slow and steady isn’t winning the race this time.

[Image: Flickr user Dan Eriksson]

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