In part one of this blog series, I touched upon the enormous opportunity holiday season presents for any internet retailer. While this all sounds like great news for e-retailers, the holiday season comes with its own set of challenges. Even though customer spend and traffic continues to increase on year-over-year basis, not all retailers have been able to use this to their advantage during the holiday season because they were not well prepared. Toysrus.com for instance experienced a 14 hours of downtime during the 2013 holiday season. In other words, many of the visitors who were trying to shop at Toysrus.com during those 14 hours, ended up making purchases at one or more of its competitors. Remember, unless you are selling something that is truly one of a kind, your competition is only about 3 clicks away – and I don’t know about you, but personally, I’m *far* more likely to invest 3 clicks to go to a different store if I am dissatisfied, if it’s taking too long, or if it’s closed than I am to drive across town to see if the competitor is will provide service more to my liking.
In the case of Toysrus, their moderate page load time of 4.089 sec in comparison to Target’s 2.55 sec and BestBuy’s 3.494 sec, certainly didn’t help matters for them. Toysrus.com definitely ended up losing some of its impatient customers to competitors even when the website was up and running.
On the first look, a one and a half second delay in page load may not appear to make a big difference, but think about it. How many pages do you visit while you’re shopping for the perfect gift? How many half seconds is that compared to how many half seconds it takes you to get to competing e-retailers whose responsiveness isn’t undermining your holiday spirit while you’re gift hunting?
To fully grasp how much difference this half second can make, let’s take a look at some trends in how consumer behavior is changing while making purchases online. Research conclusively shows that consumer attention continues to dwindle to new lows every year. Average Session Length and Page Views per Session, both metrics which demonstrate consumer attention, have hit new bottoms for each of the past three years. These dwindling attention spans means if e-retailers don’t pay special attention towards site performance, they will, not might, but *will*, end up losing customers to competitors.
Throughout the remainder of this series of blogs, we’re going to explore specifically how the much difference a half second can make, how easy it is for the traffic increase of the holiday season to slow your site down by that half second, and specific things you can do to keep your holiday revenues from falling victim to that dreaded half second (or worse, downtime!).
Check out the other posts in this 5 part series!