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Why Website Optimization Translates Into More Sales (with Examples)

As we take stock from Black Friday and look to Cyber Monday, it’s worth noting that shoe shopping is visually very similar to buying a car. Most footwear websites let you look at the goods from every imaginable angle before you take a test drive.

ShoeBlog_Mosaic

According to Time Magazine, the average man owns about 12 pairs of shoes. A new study by the Diamond insurance company claims that the average woman owns 19 pairs of shoes but really only wears 7. And if you’re pop star Celine Dion, you own 3,000 pairs!

Really.

Next time you’re in a crowded place, spend some time staring at people’s feet. Sneakers are a dynamic way to express our personalities. We thought it would be fun to track down some of the funkiest styles and compare the customer experience on seven popular eCommerce sites.

Using our recently released Benchmark Tool, we analyzed the past 30 days of page views for the colorful assortment of shoes pictured above. Your company can use this tool by setting up a free Yottaa account, giving you an ongoing status report on the performance of your eCommerce site compared to your competition.

ONLINE FUNKY SNEAKER SALES (November 2013)


ShoeBlog_Trend

The vertical axis is the Time to Interact, which is how long it takes from when the customer arrives at the website until the first moment he or she can buy sneakers. Not everything may have been fully loaded at this point, but customers can now click, scroll or search as they begin to shop.

Here are the sneakers we window shopped for and their respective online retailers:

1. Porsche Design Adidas Sneakers (LUISAVIAROMA)

2. Puma Rainbow Sneakers (Nordstrom)

3. Iron Fist Zombie Stomp Sneakers (Heels.com)

4. Converse Chuck Taylor XX-Hi Zipper Shoes (DressCodeClothing.com)

5. Converse All-Star Batman Sneakers (Journeys)

6. Yoki Funky-33 Pink Rhinestone Sneakers (Sears)

7. Vibram FiveFingers Barefoot Running Shoes (Zappos)

The higher the points on the above graph, the longer customers are waiting to see page content – and ultimately, make a purchase decision or choose to jump ship. With astounding frequency, some of these shoe sites have taken longer than 20 seconds (an eternity) to engage. The Green (Square), Orange (Circle) and Blue (Triangle) lines are tracking the Zombie Sneakers, the Pink Rhinestones and the Converse Batmans respectively.

Holy Shopping Delays, Batman!

Analyzing the Results

One way Yottaa’s Benchmark Tool evaluates your website performance is with the Traffic Light chart. With a quick glance, you can see the sites categorized by Green (“superior web performance”), Yellow (“needs improvement”) and Red (“poor web performance”).  You can see the ongoing live monitoring of all these metrics on our sample Sneaker Sales Benchmark Page.

ShoeBlog_TrafficLight

Fittingly, the luxury retailer LUISAVIAROMA.com is serving up its Porsche sneaks the fastest, more than twice as speedy as the sluggish Zombie shoes at Heels.com. Looking at the column on the right, there are several superior Green ratings for Time to Start Render, which measures the time from when the user requests the website to the first moment they see visible content.

Time to Start Render gives your customers their first confirmation that your website is loading. Every second delay at this point can increase your potential bounce rate by 65 percent. Again, the Heels.com Zombies are woefully behind the pack here – more than three times slower than the FiveFinger toe shoes at Zappos.

Here’s another way to express customer wait time through a half-second time lapse of what they see appear on their computer screens:

ShoeBlog_Screenshots

From the Zombie perspective, when you’re dead, apparently there is no need to rush.  The bounce rate relects the customers’ perception of your brand quality. It?s worth remembering that more than 40 percent of bounced shoppers will never return back to your site.

Diving Deeper Into the Metrics

Because the parameters of content delivery constantly fluctuate on the Web, there is always room for improvement. Zappos, which is widely hailed as an industry leader in customer service, took almost 25 seconds to interact in this page view sample, which was taken in San Francisco at 11:34 p.m. on Nov. 5 using the Chrome browser:

ShoeBlog_YottaaScore

This is the page that took 24.7 seconds to interact:

ShoeBlog_Zappos

Why did it take so long?  Looking at the page’s Waterfall Chart, which visually tracks the flow and loading speeds of each individual asset, we can see there is an 8-second logjam with this product video:

ShoeBlog_Waterfall1

And there is an additional 6-second wait to load a series of thumbnail product photos like this one:

ShoeBlog_Waterfall2

You can find the full Waterfall chart by scrolling down on your Benchmark page. The horizontal bars, which ideally should be tracking time in milliseconds and not seconds, represents the customer’s total wait.

Taking the Next Step

All eCommerce sites constantly juggle the desire for a speedy website with the goal of delivering rich product content to engage the customer. A large number of assets, regardless if they are as small as thumbnail photos, can significantly slow down a website.

Whenever possible, you should combine multiple assets so they load with a single request rather than individually. Combining JavaScripts or rewriting them so they load asynchronously will help speed things up. Ditto for reducing the number of total images and decreasing the size of large images for web resolution.

But it’s not just about WHAT is loading on your page. WHEN it’s loading matters a great deal, too. Take a look at this screenshot from one of the Porsche sneakers – slower moments. In the initial few seconds, a transparent overlay obscures all of the LUISAVIAROMA.com content.

Shoppers can’t click on any content, but more importantly, they can’t SEE any content either as the circular loading icon is doing its thing. It’s like a big shower curtain has been draped over the computer.

ShoeBlog_Loading

With Yottaa’s Application Sequencing feature, customers will never see the “I’m busy” signal. Content is loaded sequentially based on priority of engagement, focusing the customer?s attention on relevant imagery/messaging while the rest of the site loads.

This prioritization maintains and cultivates your customers’ interest and increases conversions on any device and on any network. Yottaa serves up the right content at the right time based on your business goals and customers? buying habits.

Looking back at that 8-second page loading delay for the Zappos video, Yottaa’s global Content Delivery Network (CDN) also serves up complex content from the closest geographic server – taking pressure off your infrastructure.

Yottaa will make you perform better regardless of which style of sneakers you are wearing. Sign up for our Free 14-Day Trial now and see how improved website speed and optimization can convince your customers to keep running back.

Speeding up page load times is the most efficient way to increase online sales. Check out our free eBook, “How to Prove the ROI of Web Performance Optimization: A Comprehensive Guide.” Download now.

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