E-Commerce Secrets to Retail Holiday Success - Part 1
July 24, 2017

Ari Weil

Share this

Since forever, fourth-quarter holiday sales have been the key to retail success. It was true when retail was strictly bricks-and-mortar, and it is true now when online counts for a bigger and bigger share of holiday sales. Optimizing online web performance is critical to keep and convert customers and achieve success for the holidays and the entire retail year.

Recent research from Akamai indicates that website slowdowns as small as 100 milliseconds can significantly impact revenues. Whether on desktop, tablet or mobile, consumers will not tolerate delays. Higher-than-ever expectations for mobile pose challenges.

Akamai's The State of Online Retail Performance report lays out the challenges online retailers face. But it also illuminates ideal performance benchmarks that retailers can target to make sure shoppers stick with their sites, explore their offerings, and convert into purchasers.

It takes effort to optimize your users' experience, both on the front-end and on the back-end, to achieve those benchmarks. To be successful in the fourth-quarter holiday season, that work needs to start now and continue right through the end of the year.

Study Data Correlate Web Performance and Retail Results

For the study, Akamai assembled a massive volume of user data — the equivalent of 10 billion user visits — to uncover the performance sweet spots that correlated to the lowest bounce rates, the longest user sessions, and the highest conversions.

The data show that desktop is still the online channel that delivers the highest conversions and, by inference, the most revenue. And while mobile now accounts for virtually half of online shopping, it still lags far behind in keeping and converting shoppers — just one in five transactions are completed on mobile, compared to desktop's nearly 70 percent share of completed transactions.

These numbers, however, can be deceiving when we take the consumers' cross-device journey into consideration. Many users will start their product research process on mobile devices because of their convenience. For example, users might use their mobile devices when they are on the train going to the office, and then they will complete the transaction on a desktop at work. If we look at it through this lens, a poor mobile experience will not only hurt your mobile conversion but quite possibly also damage your desktop conversion rate.

Tablets are a modest but consistent bright spot, according to the study. While they represent the smallest share of shoppers, they enjoy high conversion and low bounce rates, and consumers appear to be more tolerant of small slowdowns or performance glitches on tablets than on either desktop or mobile. These findings once again highlight the multi-device consumer path to purchase; while they may not be willing to wait on other devices, often when users are on their tablets, they are multi-screening, meaning it may increase their willingness to wait.

A One-Second Slowdown Slashes Conversion by 20 Percent

There is simply no wiggle room when it comes to website load time. Even just a 100ms delay — 1/10 of a second — reduces conversion by 2.4 percent on desktop and over 7 percent on mobile. When the delay increases to a full second, conversion plummets by more than 20 percent on desktop and mobile and almost 18 percent on tablet.

The number to aim for is the load time that delivers “peak conversion,” when the highest proportion of visitors are going to complete an action. For desktop, the magic number is 1.8 seconds to achieve a conversion rate of 12.8 percent. For mobile, a 2.7 second load time correlates to a 3.3 percent conversion rate, and on tablets, a 1.9 second load time delivers 7.2 percent conversion.

On average, the difference between a converted and non-converted session is 1.1 seconds on desktop, 0.6 seconds on mobile, and 1.0 second on tablet. All of those numbers add up to one compelling conclusion: every millisecond matters.

Read E-Commerce Secrets to Retail Holiday Success - Part 2

Ari Weil is Global VP of Product and Industry Marketing at Akamai
Share this

The Latest

October 10, 2019

The requirements of an APM tool are now much more complex than they've ever been. Not only do they need to trace a user transaction across numerous microservices on the same system, but they also need to happen pretty fast ...

October 09, 2019

Performance monitoring is an old problem. As technology has advanced, we've had to evolve how we monitor applications. Initially, performance monitoring largely involved sending ICMP messages to start troubleshooting a down or slow application. Applications have gotten much more complex, so this is no longer enough. Now we need to know not just whether an application is broken, but why it broke. So APM has had to evolve over the years for us to get there. But how did this evolution take place, and what happens next? Let's find out ...

October 08, 2019

There are some IT organizations that are using DevOps methodology but are wary of getting bogged down in ITSM procedures. But without at least some ITSM controls in place, organizations lose their focus on systematic customer engagement, making it harder for them to scale ...

October 07, 2019
OK, I admit it. "Service modeling" is an awkward term, especially when you're trying to frame three rather controversial acronyms in the same overall place: CMDB, CMS and DDM. Nevertheless, that's exactly what we did in EMA's most recent research: <span style="font-style: italic;">Service Modeling in the Age of Cloud and Containers</span>. The goal was to establish a more holistic context for looking at the synergies and differences across all these areas ...
October 03, 2019

If you have deployed a Java application in production, you've probably encountered a situation where the application suddenly starts to take up a large amount of CPU. When this happens, application response becomes sluggish and users begin to complain about slow response. Often the solution to this problem is to restart the application and, lo and behold, the problem goes away — only to reappear a few days later. A key question then is: how to troubleshoot high CPU usage of a Java application? ...

October 02, 2019

Operations are no longer tethered tightly to a main office, as the headquarters-centric model has been retired in favor of a more decentralized enterprise structure. Rather than focus the business around a single location, enterprises are now comprised of a web of remote offices and individuals, where network connectivity has broken down the geographic barriers that in the past limited the availability of talent and resources. Key to the success of the decentralized enterprise model is a new generation of collaboration and communication tools ...

October 01, 2019

To better understand the AI maturity of businesses, Dotscience conducted a survey of 500 industry professionals. Research findings indicate that although enterprises are dedicating significant time and resources towards their AI deployments, many data science and ML teams don't have the adequate tools needed to properly collaborate on, build and deploy AI models efficiently ...

September 30, 2019

Digital transformation, migration to the enterprise cloud and increasing customer demands are creating a surge in IT complexity and the associated costs of managing it. Technical leaders around the world are concerned about the effect this has on IT performance and ultimately, their business according to a new report from Dynatrace, based on an independent global survey of 800 CIOs, Top Challenges for CIOs in a Software-Driven, Hybrid, Multi-Cloud World ...

September 26, 2019

APM tools are your window into your application's performance — its capacity and levels of service. However, traditional APM tools are now struggling due to the mismatch between their specifications and expectations. Modern application architectures are multi-faceted; they contain hybrid components across a variety of on-premise and cloud applications. Modern enterprises often generate data in silos with each outflow having its own data structure. This data comes from several tools over different periods of time. Such diversity in sources, structure, and formats present unique challenges for traditional enterprise tools ...

September 25, 2019

Today's organizations clearly understand the value of digital transformation and its ability to spark innovation. It's surprising that fewer than half of organizations have undertaken a digital transformation project. Workfront has identified five of the top challenges that IT teams face in digital transformation — and how to overcome them ...