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eCommerce 3rd Party Technology Index: Which Ones Will Slow Web Pages?

eCommerce websites are too slow, according to recent studies from Retail Systems Research and Google research. But performance is no longer dictated by images and bandwidth. When shoppers have to wait more than 3 seconds for slow web pages, it’s usually due to 3rd party services that are loading in the background.

The first step to making your eCommerce website faster is knowing where to start. So today we launched the 2018 eCommerce 3rd Party Technology Index. The index will give you visibility into which eCommerce 3rd party technologies are most widely embraced by the industry, and which ones are most likely to cause slow web pages this holiday season.

What is the eCommerce 3rd Party Index?

Yottaa collects performance data on 3rd party technologies used by over 1,000 eCommerce websites operating on our eCommerce Acceleration Platform. This data is used in our core business of making websites load faster by optimizing and sequencing 3rd parties, images, and other page elements. But this data also gives us insight into which technologies have the greatest performance impact across thousands of retail websites.

We published this data in our 2018 eCommerce 3rd Party Technology Index. The index rates each 3rd party technology based on category, adoption rate, and performance impact rating (PIR). PIR measures  how much the technology impacts website performance.

This index is a great starting point for evaluating your performance risks for the holiday shopping season.

Which eCommerce 3rd party technologies lead to slow web pages?

We discovered almost 700 different 3rd party JavaScripts used on the 1,000+ websites studied. We grouped the 200 most widely adopted technologies into 29 categories based on their function and purpose, and calculated their PIR.

Three categories had the most negative impact on web page performance:

1. Personalization – Personalization technologies use customer intelligence to deliver personalized experiences and recommendations to each shopper. Personalization vendors conduct their computations on remote servers before delivering the right content to the website. Unfortunately, this exchange of data and the subsequent computations are subject to latency and can delay large sections of your experience from loading. The ROI for personalization is typically very strong, but you don’t want it adding seconds to your page load times.

2. Tag Management – “Tags” are the 3rd party pixels, beacons, and JavaScripts that enable special features on your website. Tag Management technology allows business and IT to rapidly insert 3rd party tags within your online experience. Unfortunately, these systems don’t help prevent delays caused by 3rd party tags. Which is why they are the second worst performing technologies found on eCommerce websites.

3. Ad Tech – A wide variety of advertising technology (“ad tech”) can be found on eCommerce websites. Tracking tags, retargeting tags, display ads, etc. But the revenue generated by these ads better be significant enough to justify the delays they cause, given how frequently they cause errors and slow web pages.

Which technologies do eCommerce websites love anyway?

Even though 3rd party technologies are causing slow web pages, retailers need them to meet rising customer expectations. So which technologies are most frequently found on retailer websites?

1. Ad Tech – The third biggest source of website delays is also the most popular. Almost every retailer runs online advertising campaigns and embeds 3rd party tags on their site to serve or track results. In fact, 96% of the eCommerce sites indexed had ad tech embedded on their pages.

2. Analytics – Conversion funnels, bounce rates, conversion rates would all be unknown concepts without the analytics tracking tags. Analytics technology is found on 95% of eCommerce websites.

3. Social Media – Retailers want to give shoppers the opportunity to post their favorite products or styles on social media. Shoppers must be taking advantage of it, because 92% of eCommerce sites include integration with social media like Facebook, Instagram, etc.

What can you do with this?

The list of 3rd party technologies and their PIR is eye opening. If you download the report, you will find several technologies already in use on your own website. You may be pleased to discover that most of your 3rd party vendors are listed as “Green.” This means they have minimal to no performance impact. But you will likely find that several on your site (or planned for the next release) are have a negative impact on performance.

Before this holiday season, you need to be sure you have the right technology and strategy in place to control third party delays. Speed up your pages before one failure disrupts your biggest shopping day. The Gap learned the cost of a 3rd party tag failure last Thanksgiving, as did Amazon when a Prime Day tag delay cost them millions.

Who are the biggest violators on your website? Which vendors do most of your peers use? These answers and more can be found in the 2018 eCommerce 3rd Party Technology Index. Download it now so you are ready for 3rd party unpredictability this holiday season.

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