The 'World Wide Wait' Is Still a Thing in Retail

Author: Andria Cheng

June 28, 2017

The promise of online sales and traffic has got retailers across the board focused on investing more money online, but many retailers are still falling short in some of the basics of digital.

According to a study by Retail Systems Research (RSR), retail websites take an average of 9.5 seconds to load on mobile devices, and 16.6 seconds for desktop. The study of 80 major retail sites was conducted in April and May and was commissioned by Yottaa, which helps retailers speed up loading of their pages.

Among the reasons for slow page loads were digital bells and whistles: live chat, product recommendation and personalized offers, to name just a few. Retailers in the study used an average of 70 third-party ecommerce applications, and waiting on them takes up as much as three-quarters of the time required to load a page, the study found.

Another speed block is images. The RSR study found that 55% of site content is images, many of which simply wouldn’t load.

“Retailers don’t understand that they are actually sacrificing shopper experience due to the impact slow loading images have on performance,” RSR said. ”Feature-rich sites make the shopping process so much more engaging—but only if they work properly."

RSR made the point that Amazon's success is not necessarily based on beautiful design." Amazon continues to win customers by making the shopper flow convenient, easy, and relevant—all in a way that is not particularly visually stunning. What’s most important to the brand—glitz? Efficiency?”

In terms of popups, the study found that many sites not only hurt site performance but also annoy shoppers. A prime example, it said, is sites that feature a popup window that appears immediately upon arrival at a site.

The study also found that even though mobile is increasingly where shoppers begin their product search and site visits, retailers are making a mistake if they fail to focus on desktop experience.

“Desktop still outperforms relative to mobile when it comes to conversion rate, so it is imperative that retailers keep the desktop experience up-to-date,” RSR said.

eMarketer estimates mobile commerce, while growing rapidly, still only makes up 34% of total retail online sales.

When it comes to mobile websites, RSR noted it was “genuinely impressed” by what retailers have done to beef up consumers’ mobile experience, which not long ago “were slow-loading and difficult to navigate,” and didn’t offer shoppers much beyond the ability to find a nearby store.