was originally published on BusinessInsider.com on 6/15/2011]
Groupon is going public. LivingSocial is now averaging more than $1 million in revenue per day and expects to double its size in 2011 to 300 markets. Social shopping websites have gone mainstream and are weaving their special offers into the fabric of consumer culture. One aspect they all share is the need for speed. Website visitors, particularly the younger and middle aged demographic that these sites covet, surf the Internet at lightening speeds thanks to almost universal broadband access they have.
This speed has raised the bar ? users expect websites to load quickly and social shopping sites feed on the impulse buy. Consumers want to go from the email in their inbox advertising the today?s deal to the website to get the details. Along the way speed is key. If users continually sense that the website of a specific site is slow they may be less likely to visit it in the future. We thought it would be interesting to compare each of the major social commerce websites speed and learn which is fastest. In this benchmark we looked at: Groupon, Gilt.com, Rue La La, Living Social, BuyWithMe, SocialBuy and DealOn. We measured each site?s home page between June 7 and June 13, 2011 from the US, Europe and Asia, to get a true sense of website performance for users in different locations.
Each site was assigned a score which measures several aspects of web page load speed, as experienced by the website visitor. This score factors in how fast the site displays the page title, the time it takes for core content to appear, and the time it takes for the page to be fully usable (?time to interact?.) This score ranges from 0 to 100. A higher score means a better page load user experience.
Looking at the chart we can clearly see that the two sites that provided the best user experience were Gilt.com and Rue La La. These two eCommerce sites thrive on daily deals and sample sales and have evidently spent some time developing their sites to be responsive to users. Groupon and LivingSocial have similar scores too. While their simple daily deal websites provide a good experience there is always room for improvement, especially when shoppers are rushing to get a hot deal.
The slowest sites in this benchmark are the smaller startups that are competing with the more established social shopping sites. For them, improving website speed by just a few milliseconds could bring additional revenue. For example Amazon.com reported that a 100ms site speed delay caused a 1% drop in revenue (and for Amazon, that means some big $$.)
If we were to looking at ?time to interact? as a standalone point of comparison, the fastest website was Rue La La at 2.36 seconds and the slowest was DealOn at just over 6 seconds.
While speed is important in all aspects of business, it?s probably mission critical for competitive websites in the social shopping category. After all, today?s hot deal isn?t so hot if slow speed gets between you and the bargain.
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