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e-Commerce Industry News

February 21, 2014
Are retailers failing to meet customers' need for speed with the online shopping experience?
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February 21, 2014
Slow-loading websites may discourage customers from shopping. Slow-loading websites may discourage
customers from shopping.
With recent studies suggesting that the Internet may influence as many as 60 percent of retail sales in the near future, it's quite clear that merchants need to offer a fully optimized online shopping experience. This will challenge retailers to fine-tune their online stores.

However, it seems many retailers aren't quite living up to their customers' expectations. For example, one report from Radware suggested some of the top retailers' websites are actually loading more slowly, with response times up nearly two seconds over the past year.

"Median Time to Interact (TTI), a metric introduced in a previous report that analyzes the 'point at which a page displays its primary interactive content,' also remains slower than the ideal," Marketing Charts added, citing the report. "The metric is designed to be a key gauge of how quickly a page can deliver a satisfactory user experience, according to the researchers, as well as how rapidly the page can accomplish the site owner's goals."

Balancing the front-end and back-end operations of online stores
Many merchants are investing more resources into improving the shopping experience and implementing omnichannel retailing strategies. New features, such as ship-from-store and in-store pickup promise customers new ways to enhance online shopping, helping merchants shorten the time between when customers complete a purchase and when they receive their goods.

These are good investments, but retailers need to keep in mind how important it is to have a streamlined website as well. Long loading times can be a huge deterrent, with customers closing the browser and trying another site if the home page loads too slowly. This is even more applicable with the rise of mobile devices, which often have slower Internet connections. The bottom line: failure to load can result in lost sales.

People are spending more money online and consumers are also conducting more retail-related activities on the Web. As merchants deploy omnichannel efforts, it's crucial their online store is the rock of their operations. Slow-loading and otherwise unusable websites can go a long way in deterring sales, which is something every merchant should be cognizant of as they look for ways to improve their online efforts.