New Data Questions “Do Retailers Face Extinction?”
The hard truth is, for many years, retailers have been way behind when it comes to eCommerce site performance and the ability to handle traffic spikes during peak shopping periods. But with the onset of the global pandemic, these previously “frustrating” factors have very quickly become what will ultimately make or break digital brands.
With the recent publication of a new research report titled, “2020 Retailer Website Performance Evaluation – The Digital Experience: Retailers Who Neglect It Face Serious Consequences,” these issues and more are coming to the surface. The research, which is now in its 4th year of publication, was conducted by Retail Systems Research (RSR) and evaluates 80 major retail websites on page speed performance and shopper experience. The report also includes survey results from 1,100 consumers to provide their perspective on eCommerce site performance.
This year, RSR, an industry market intelligence firm that helps retailers make more strategic decisions about the role of information technology in their enterprise, focused primarily on retailers’ mobile sites, due to consumers’ rapidly increasing trend to make that channel their primary point of contact with a brand and its products.
Here are some of the results of the report:
The Pack Leaders
Although the majority of brands are struggling to improve digital experience during these unpredictable times, some retailers are on the right track.
Based on the criteria for the report, where a full range of 0-3 points was available across 18 categories that focused on performance, shopper experience, and checkout, the following retailers took top honors (all scores are out of 54 possible points):
Here are this year’s fastest sites:
Why Site Speed is Critical
At the root of RSR’s research is the assumption that website speed matters, especially during a pandemic when shopping is mainly conducted digitally, and brands are seeing traffic spikes like never before. RSR asked shoppers to weigh in on what happens when a site loads too slowly. For the second year in a row, approximately 9 out of 10 shoppers say they will abandon a site if it is too slow. When asked if they get frustrated when they go shopping online and the site is slow, only 8% of shoppers report this as not being an issue, with 52% citing it as a major sore spot. With the massive shift to shopping online currently taking place around the globe, this is no time for retailers to be slow.
So, are eCommerce sites actually too slow for what shoppers need? Undeniably, yes. Although the overall site speed of brands has decreased to an average of 7 seconds from last year’s 9.25 seconds, this is still an entire 4 seconds slower than what shoppers need to stay on the site and complete the purchase. The question now is not “Will sites speed up for next year?” but “Is it too late for online brands to fix their site speed issues?”
Want to see what’s slowing down your site? Get a free Site Performance Snapshot today!
Shopper Security Concerns are Rising
When asked about their concern that 3rd party technologies could access their personal information without the knowledge of the retailers, 89% of shoppers indicated they are in fact worried.
But is this a legitimate concern? Considering the brands RSR evaluated had an average of over 25 3rd parties on the checkout and login pages, shoppers should be more than concerned; they should be alarmed.
As a best practice, brands should only have absolutely essential 3rd parties firing on pages where shoppers enter sensitive information or choose from a drop down, like checkout and login pages. At a time when consumers are so vocally hesitant to visit stores due to health concerns, it would be absolutely catastrophic for brands to lose online sales due to concerns over the use of personal information on their websites. With the already tight speed expectations, shoppers do not need another reason to take their business elsewhere.
A Time Like No Other
This year’s report is more important than past years. Because this data was gathered right in the thick of the pandemic, the information it contains should be used to help brands position themselves for what will certainly be the most unpredictable and critical Holiday season ever.
“With consumers shopping primarily online and retailers desperate to make up lost revenue from recent brick and mortar store closings, digital channels are the last frontier of survival for retail brands,” said Steve Rowen, Managing Partner, Retail Systems Research (RSR). “Based on the findings from our new report on eCommerce site performance, retailers that cannot rely on their online offerings’ ability to serve as their primary face to the consumers now face the very serious chance of extinction.”