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"You've got three seconds, then I'm gone"

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Research conducted by Forrester Consulting in the US on behalf of content delivery network Akamai has looked at web site performance and its correlation with online shoppers' behaviour. It found that two seconds is the new threshold in terms of an average online shopper's expectation for a web page to load and 40 percent of shoppers will wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a retail or travel site.

Based on the feedback of 1,048 online shoppers the researchers found:

  • Consumers become impatient when pages take longer than two seconds to load. 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, representing a significant evolution in consumer expectation over Forrester's previous research on the subject in 2006, which showed customer expectations at four seconds or less. The researchers also found that 40 percent of consumers will wait no more than three seconds for a web page to render before abandoning the site.

  • Online shopper loyalty is contingent upon quick page loading, especially for high-spending shoppers. 52 percent of online shoppers stated that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty, up 12 percent from the 2006 study.

  • Shoppers often become distracted when made to wait for a page to load. 14 percent will begin shopping at another site, and 23 percent will stop shopping or walk away from their computer.

  • The consequences for online retailers with under-performing sites are lost sales. 79 percent of online shoppers who experience a dissatisfying visit are less likely to buy from that site again, up 17 percent from the 2006 study. 64 percent would simply purchase from another online store, up 16 percent from the 2006 study.

  • The impact reaches beyond the web. 46% of dissatisfied online shoppers are more likely to develop a negative perception of the company, and 44% will tell their friends and family about the experience. With 87% of consumers shopping in both online and retail channels, the impact of a bad online experience reaches beyond the web.


"The takeaway from this study is that site performance remains a major factor for keeping visitors coming back to a retail site," says Pedro Santos, chief strategist for ecommerce at Akamai. "Online shoppers demand — and expect — quality site performance which is a requirement for optimal online success. With two seconds as the new benchmark for a retail or travel site to load, it leaves little room for error to maintain a company's loyal online customer base."

You can download the full report free of charge from Akamai's website.
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