Faster internet speeds have allowed businesses to deliver far richer content to consumers as a way of converting website visitors into customers. However, many ecommerce organizations may not have the infrastructure and bandwidth required to deliver that content at acceptable speeds.
According to a recent study by website optimization technology company Strangeloop Networks, the average ecommerce website takes 10 seconds to load, despite the fact that website visitors are likely to abandon a page if loading takes more than three seconds. The cause of the slower speeds may be that companies are biting off a little more than they can chew - although the average site operates 10 percent faster than a year ago, actual load times are slower.
“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."
These statistics highlight a need to balance performance with complexity. While it can be valuable to produce high-end video content and graphics, the value of that content would be greatly diminished by performance roadblocks. In order to address this issue, businesses must not only select an ecommerce hosting provider that can meet the demands of the content they want to deliver, but actively test performance in different situations to ensure visitor experiences meet company objectives.
Factors limiting website speed
In addition to the capabilities of the ecommerce hosting provider, there are other factors that can result in poor user experiences. VentureBeat columnist John Koetsier recently highlighted a number of factors that contribute to reduced website performance. For example, many businesses utilize multiple services from different companies, effectively spreading out the management of their website. According to Koetsier, one slow server means the speed of the entire website is hampered.
Koetsier also raised the question of how this impacts top ecommerce websites such as Amazon. The study revealed that many of them don't function at optimal speed for users, yet this doesn't appear to be impacting sales. Bixby told VentureBeat that Amazon is simply an exception to the rule. In nearly every other situation, faster websites correlate with better core performance metrics such as shopping cart completions.