The effect of Web performance on online shopper satisfaction

RetailAs you might have noticed, we follow the retail industry — and more specifically, e-commerce — fairly closely here at AlertSite, as such a large portion of our customer base consists of online merchants. As the Web has become an increasingly more integral and competitive channel for retailers, performance monitoring has become more a necessity than an option. In fact, I imagine you’d be hard-pressed to find many retailers that don’t operate a webstore, or at the very least, a website.

That said, I came across the results of a survey last week that indicates an increase in online customer satisfaction. The survey, conducted by ForeSee Results, found that consumer satisfaction with the top 100 Web-based retailers rose five points this year from 2009. The winners? Netflix came in first with a score of 87 (out of 100), Amazon came in second with 86 points, and Avon.com and Apple were tied for third with 83 points a piece.

According to the survey, several factors contribute to a satisfied online customer: fair and competitive prices, variety and availability of products, usability of the retailer’s website, and accuracy and quality of information on the site. I’d go a step further and say that availability and performance of the site also factor into the satisfaction equation.

We already know that site speed can influence a shopper’s willingness to shop and buy. And if a customer can’t purchase an item they want because the shopping cart won’t load, I can’t imagine they’ll be all too satisfied with the experience.

On a hunch, I looked at the performance metrics we recorded for Internet Retailer’s Top 50 Retailers during the first quarter 2010. Not surprisingly, the most satisfying retailers in ForeSee’s survey all performed above average during the three-month period ending March 2010. Homepage availability of these sites was above the industry average of 99.17 percent: Apple, Netflix, Avon and Amazon all experienced availability upwards of 99.50 percent.

AlertSite_Q1Availability_Retail

Response times mirrored this trend. On average, it took five seconds for retailers’ homepages to load. The leaders of the survey all fell below this threshold.

AlertSite_Q1ResponseTimes_Retail

I’m curious as to how ForeSee Results determined the criteria for its survey, and would be interested in seeing the outcome of a survey that also took site performance into account. I wonder if the results would change at all.

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