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Deal or no deal - depends on website speed

Developments in e-commerce means retailers need to make sure their infrastructure is up to scratch or risk their customers going elsewhere. 

That's according to Ixia, who says consumers are developing new expectations as the underlying hardware and software driving customer-facing retail web portals evolves and performance improves.

“Online customers won’t wait. If they can’t do what they want to do online immediately, every second that goes by increases the chances of them going elsewhere," warns Stephen Urquhart, general manager ANZ, Ixia. "Internet retailers should be aware of how general website performance and response times can affect customer behaviour and, as a result, revenues.” 

Urquhart says website pages once had to load within four seconds to keep a customer’s attention, but now the response time needed to keep customers interested is closer to two seconds. Amazon, one of the world’s largest online retailers, found that a two-second slowdown in web portal response time resulted in US$1.6 billion lost revenue per year per user, he says.

Research by Forrester suggests that 79% of customers who experience a dissatisfying visit to an online portal are unlikely to buy from that site. 

When organisations make sure that their underlying technology infrastructure can provide customers with a first-class online experience, the benefits can be multiplied, says Urquhart,

For example, online retailer, Shopzilla, saw a dramatic improvement by reducing page load times from seven seconds to two seconds, with a 7-12% increase in revenue as well as a 50% reduction in hardware and software costs.

“To make sure that the technology underpinning their customers’ website experience will deliver the desired response, online retailers need to test their solutions prior to implementation, as though they were operating in the real world," Urquhart explains.

“Organisations can get some idea of how long a website response rate might be if they test the hardware and software solutions behind it to breaking point before going live," he says. "If testing reveals that the website response time is so long that it will diminish customer engagement and sales, organisations will be in a position to work out how to shorten those times prior to the rollout date, maximising potential revenue from the web portal when it is live.”