New Findings: State of the Union for Ecommerce Page Speed and Web Performance [Spring 2015]

There are compelling arguments why companies – particularly online retailers – should care about serving faster pages to their users. Countless studies have found an irrefutable connection between load times and key performance indicators ranging from page views to revenue.

For every 1 second of improvement, Walmart.com experienced up to a 2% conversion increase. Firefox reduced average page load time by 2.2 seconds, which increased downloads by 15.4% — resulting in an estimated 10 million additional downloads per year. And when auto parts retailer AutoAnything.com cut load times in half, it experienced a 13% increase in sales.

Recently at Radware, we released our latest research into the performance and page speed of the world’s top online retailers. This research aims to answer the question: in a world where every second counts, are retailers helping or hurting their users’ experience – and ultimately their own bottom line?

Since 2010, we’ve measured and analyzed the performance of the top 100 ecommerce sites (as ranked by Alexa.com). We look at web page metrics such as load time, time to interact (the amount of time it takes for a page to render its feature “above the fold” content), page size, page composition, and adoption of performance best practices. Our goal is to obtain a real-world “shopper’s eye view” of the performance of leading sites, and to track how this performance changes over time.

Here’s a sample of just a few of the findings from our Spring 2015 State of the Union for Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance:

Time to interact (TTI) is a crucial indicator of a page’s ability both to deliver a satisfactory user experience (by delivering content that the user is most likely to care about) and fulfill the site owner’s objectives (by allowing the user to engage with the page and perform whatever call to action the site owner has deemed the key action for that page). The median TTI in our research was 5.2 seconds.

Ideally, pages should be interactive in 3 seconds or less. Separate studies have found that 57% of consumers will abandon a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. A site that loads in 3 seconds experiences 22% fewer page views, a 50% higher bounce rate, and a 22% fewer conversions than a site that loads in 1 second, while a site that loads in 5 seconds experiences 35% fewer page views, a 105% higher bounce rate, and 38% fewer conversions. Only 14% of the top 100 retail sites rendered feature content in 3 seconds or less.

Page size and complexity typically correlate to slower load times. The median top 100 page is 1354 KB in size and contains 108 resource requests (e.g. images, HTML, third-party scripts). In the past two years, the median number of resources for a top 100 ecommerce page has grown by 26% — from 86 resources in Spring 2013 to 108 resources in Spring 2015. Each of these page resources represents an individual server call.

Images typically comprise between 50 to 60% of a page’s total weight, making them fertile territory for optimization. Yet 43% of the top 100 retail sites fail to compress images. Only 10% received an ‘A’ grade for image compression.

Despite eBay and Walmart’s status as retail giants, both sites have had less than stellar performance rankings in previous ecommerce performance studies. In our Fall 2014 report, these sites ranked 36th and 57th, respectively, out of 100. Our latest research, however, finds that both companies have made an impressive performance comeback – with each site’s home page rendering primary content in fewer than 3 seconds. The report provides insight into what each site did to improve its performance.

The good news is that there are opportunities for every site – even those that are relatively fast already – to fine-tune performance by taking a more aggressive approach to front-end optimization.

Get the report: Spring 2015 State of the Union for Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance