Why Are Online Retailers Leaving Millions Of Dollars On The Table?

Online retailers are leaving millions of dollars – yes, millions – on the table.  Why is this?

In the hyper-competitive world of online commerce sites, every second is absolutely critical in ensuring a user experience that will yield the maximum likelihood of conversion, meaning a site visitor follows through and makes a purchase.

Site developers typically agonize over eye-catching spreads, placing their feature images front-and-center and surrounding them with links and other images and graphics – if not bandwidth-hogging videos and other rich elements. It all leads to page bloat, which undermines the point of all that flashy eye candy by increasing load times.

In a world where visitors will abandon a page after a mere three second (as multiple studies have shown), if there are unoptimized elements dragging down a page’s load time, a whopping 57% of visitors are likely to bounce, taking their money with them. A more responsive page is always just a click away.

Assuming your site:

  • averages 100,000 visitors per day
  • with a 2% conversion rate (a common conversion rate for ecommerce sites is ≈ 2%)
  • and those conversions average $54 each (90% of ecommerce shoppers spend an average of $54 per order)

You would ideally be looking at $108,000 in daily revenue. But if 57% of your total visitors leave, that equates to a loss of $61,560 daily, or $22,469,400 annually. Here’s the equation, where x = visitors and y = average revenue per customer, multiplied by 365 days:

(.57x)(.02)(y)365 = $Lost Revenue$

It’s seems too big to ignore, but many sites are doing just that.

Would You Put Up With This At A Physical Store?

Think of it this way: Let’s say you have a physical store, and you’ve put a great deal of time, effort and money into crafting a shopping experience that keeps customers happy and hopefully buying merchandise. You’ve got sales people on the floor, attractive layouts and seasonal items set up in the front for customers.

But, for some reason, people are walking out right after they walk in. Wouldn’t you want to know why, so you could rectify the problem?

The same should hold true for an ecommerce site.

Yes, You Can Fix The Problems

Thankfully, there are tools and solutions for identifying what’s dragging down your page, and optimizing the elements so that doesn’t keep happening.

First, you’ll want to analyze the real-world experience of accessing your site. One valuable tool can be found at WebPagetest.org, where you can run tests by location, browser type and connection speed, among variables. This will generate a waterfall where you can see what loads when, as well as a nice breakdown of your performance results, which looks like this:

In analyzing the waterfall, you can identify the elements slowing down your site’s loading time. In the example below (identifying information redacted), the feature image doesn’t begin to load until 10 seconds into the page’s total load time, and takes a whopping 30+ seconds to fully render.

According to HTTP Archive, about 60% of the average page’s weight comes from images, and the page tested for this article actually has images accounting for over 83% of its size:

With unoptimized images typically a key culprit in the makeup of slow pages, looking for a solution for image optimization automation can make all the difference, reducing the image sizes and sending the best image type to the various browsers customers are using to access your site.
Why is this important? Without getting too technical, each browser “likes” certain image types better than others, meaning certain image formats load more quickly in Chrome, Firefox or Safari than others. A good automation solution will handle all of this for you.

The Bottom Line: Speed Matters

Ultimately, there needs to be a happy medium between lush, rich pages and the time it takes them to load, and optimization is key. With potentially millions of dollars on the line, can you afford not to?

For an in-depth look at how the world’s top ecommerce sites are performing, as well as valuable tips on how to get your site within the “3-second window” customers demand, read our new Summer 2015 report, “State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance.”

You can make your site faster, and your customers will thank you.

Matt Young

As a technology evangelist and writer for Radware, Matt Young delivers research and articles to the application delivery and web performance community. Before joining Radware, Matt was a top blogger for BlackBerry and he also served as the Web Editor for Avaya and as a freelance technology writer in the Greater Bay Area. Matt has a Journalism degree from San Jose State University.

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