Back to School: 2 Seconds Will Make or Break Mobile Retailers
August 08, 2016

Ann Ruckstuhl

Share this

As we enter August, back to school shopping season is in full swing. While research shows that a lot of back to school shopping still happens in brick-and-mortars, Americans are increasingly turning to their computers and mobile devices to stock up on back to school essentials.

According to the NPD Group, last year the e-commerce channel gained $90 million in dollar share growth versus brick-and-mortar, and predictions are that this year the gains could be even higher. As for mobile, new data shows that smartphone purchases for back to school have doubled.

But with this increase in mobile traffic comes a heightened expectation.

In 2014, the page load time that yielded the best conversion rate was six seconds. Now it's two. In other words, consumers will only give an online or mobile store two seconds to work — if a site or app jams or is slow, then it's hasta la vista.

The Continuing Rise of Mobile

SOASTA conducted a year over year comparison study of digital back to school traffic, discovering that in 2014, just over 60 percent of total traffic came from desktop users, while around 33 percent came from smartphones.

Just one year later, for the same set of sites, 65 percent of traffic came from smartphones, while 25 percent came from desktop. And this traffic does not solely consist of people browsing or window shopping on mobile devices only to return home and make purchases from their desktop computers. In 2014, the peak conversion rate for this set of sites was a mere 0.4 percent. Just twelve months later, the peak conversion rate for the same set of sites was over 2.2 percent — that's a change of 450 percent.

Americans Hate Delays

In a Harris poll of more than 2,000 Americans, 91 percent of back to school shoppers said they find making online purchases stressful, with 27 percent citing slow load times and 25 percent frustrated by pages crashing in the middle of a transaction.

If two seconds is fast, how do we define slow? SOASTA data shows that, while in 2014, conversion rates declined slowly after their peak at six seconds, in 2015, conversions take a sharper downturn. For both mobile and desktop devices, the "poverty line" — the point at which conversion rates dip down and plateau — begins at a page load time of four seconds and establishes itself at six seconds.

Retailers Have No Time to Spare

Huge improvements have been made — and continue to be made — in the mobile web and app space, both in terms of performance and user interface, and these figures illustrate that Americans are embracing the flexibility and portability of shopping from their smartphones. As Americans do more and more of their shopping from mobile devices, having a well-designed, high-functioning mobile website or mobile app is not a luxury for retailers but a mission-critical necessity.

Poor digital performance is now being measured by retailers in terms of lost customers and revenue — and the back to school shopping season, which accounts for 35 percent of the $11.8 billion in yearly sales in the US, is a true testing ground that will determine the winners and the losers in retail.

Ann Ruckstuhl is CMO of SOASTA.

Share this

The Latest

April 22, 2024

In our latest research, Cisco's The App Attention Index 2023: Beware the Application Generation, 62% of consumers report their expectations for digital experiences are far higher than they were two years ago, and 64% state they are less forgiving of poor digital services than they were just 12 months ago ...

April 19, 2024

In MEAN TIME TO INSIGHT Episode 5, Shamus McGillicuddy, VP of Research, Network Infrastructure and Operations, at EMA discusses the network source of truth ...

April 18, 2024

A vast majority (89%) of organizations have rapidly expanded their technology in the past few years and three quarters (76%) say it's brought with it increased "chaos" that they have to manage, according to Situation Report 2024: Managing Technology Chaos from Software AG ...

April 17, 2024

In 2024 the number one challenge facing IT teams is a lack of skilled workers, and many are turning to automation as an answer, according to IT Trends: 2024 Industry Report ...

April 16, 2024

Organizations are continuing to embrace multicloud environments and cloud-native architectures to enable rapid transformation and deliver secure innovation. However, despite the speed, scale, and agility enabled by these modern cloud ecosystems, organizations are struggling to manage the explosion of data they create, according to The state of observability 2024: Overcoming complexity through AI-driven analytics and automation strategies, a report from Dynatrace ...

April 15, 2024

Organizations recognize the value of observability, but only 10% of them are actually practicing full observability of their applications and infrastructure. This is among the key findings from the recently completed 2024 Observability Pulse Survey and Report ...

April 11, 2024

Businesses must adopt a comprehensive Internet Performance Monitoring (IPM) strategy, says Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), a leading IT analyst research firm. This strategy is crucial to bridge the significant observability gap within today's complex IT infrastructures. The recommendation is particularly timely, given that 99% of enterprises are expanding their use of the Internet as a primary connectivity conduit while facing challenges due to the inefficiency of multiple, disjointed monitoring tools, according to Modern Enterprises Must Boost Observability with Internet Performance Monitoring, a new report from EMA and Catchpoint ...

April 10, 2024

Choosing the right approach is critical with cloud monitoring in hybrid environments. Otherwise, you may drive up costs with features you don’t need and risk diminishing the visibility of your on-premises IT ...

April 09, 2024

Consumers ranked the marketing strategies and missteps that most significantly impact brand trust, which 73% say is their biggest motivator to share first-party data, according to The Rules of the Marketing Game, a 2023 report from Pantheon ...

April 08, 2024

Digital experience monitoring is the practice of monitoring and analyzing the complete digital user journey of your applications, websites, APIs, and other digital services. It involves tracking the performance of your web application from the perspective of the end user, providing detailed insights on user experience, app performance, and customer satisfaction ...