Three Seconds And You're Out

According to the recent State Of Online Retail Performance by Akamai, retail businesses today face enormous challenges in delivering the fast, reliable, 24x7 omnichannel experience that users demand. And those users won’t wait around ‘til it’s right. 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load, says the report.

The Online Retail Performance Report delivers insights into how web performance affects consumers and, ultimately, online businesses. The report explores the “magic number” for page load times and the impact of one-second performance improvements, or slowdowns, on conversion and bounce rates, as well as impact of performance on session length.

The report says that in recent years, many leading retailers have discovered that the page load times of their websites and apps have a significant and measurable impact on metrics like conversions and engagement:

  • Walmart saw up to a 2% increase in conversions for every second of improvement in load time. Every 100ms improvement resulted in up to a 1% increase in revenue
  • Fanaticsshaved two seconds off its median page load time and almost doubled mobile conversions
  • Staplesimproved page load times by 1.6 seconds and improved conversions by 10%.

Key Insights From The Report

  • While almost half of all consumers browse via their phones, only 1 in 5 complete transactions on mobile
  • Optimal load times for peak conversions ranged from 1.8 to 2.7 seconds across device types
  • Just a 100-millisecond delay in load time hurt conversion rates by up to 7%
  • Bounce rates were highest among mobile shoppers and lowest among those using tablets
  • Optimal load times for lowest bounce rates ranged from 700ms to 1.2s across all device types
  • A two-second delay in load time hurt bounce rates by up to 103%
  • Pages with the lowest bounce rates had start render times ranging from 0.9 to 1.5 seconds
  • A two-second delay correlated with up to a 51% decrease in session length

While 47% of all consumers browse via their phones, only 1 in 5 complete transactions on mobile, says the report. There are many reasons why shoppers use their phones in the purchase process – from consulting reviews to in-store price-checking. Mobile is a critical tool in the browsing process. To turn more of these browsers into shoppers, retailers should examine the barriers to completing transactions on their mobile sites.

Retailers that invest in mobile, email and social see 30% more sales on average and 25% higher average order values, says the report. Some retailers have already experienced the mobile tipping point, with the majority of their sales coming from smartphones and tablets. Fanatics, an online retailer of licensed team sports apparel, found that 56% of its Thanksgiving Day sales happened on mobile, 42% via phones and 14% via tablets.

Consumers have similar expectations and behaviors, regardless of whether they’re using their desktop or their tablet. While the peak conversion rate for desktop was much higher than the peak conversion rate for tablets, the average and median conversion rates were closer in range. (Note that in this research, “load time” refers to the median load time for pages in a user session)

While mobile users lagged in all metrics, it’s important to note that user expectations are still quite high: 2.7 second load times are difficult to achieve on mobile, but this is what consumers expect.

Conversion and Loading Timer

Conversion Rate




Average Conversion Rate




Median Conversion Rate




Peak Conversion Rate




Loading Time




Source: Akamai, August 2017

Even tenths of a second count. Desktop pages that loaded in 2.7 seconds experienced a peak conversion rate of 12.8%. Pages that loaded 100 milliseconds slower, 2.8 seconds, experienced a 2.4% decrease in conversion rate. Smartphones and tablets were affected more, with 7.1% and 3.8% decreases in conversion rates, respectively.

The complexities of online business, and the sophistication of digital marketing, are evolving rapidly, says the report. Understanding and managing digital performance has never mattered more than it does now. Only those retail brands that adapt their current approaches can survive, concludes the report.

For additional information from Akamai, please visit here.



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