What Paws-itively Scares Us? Sluggish eCommerce Sites
Feeling a Halloween candy hangover this morning? You?re not the only one. I ate WAY too many ?Fun Size? Butterfingers. Sugar buzz aside, I was amused by the number of pet costumes I saw last night while taking my kids trick or treating.
According to Inc. Magazine, Americans spent more than $50 billion on the pet care industry last year and 62 percent of households now have a beloved animal member of the family. Using our recently released Benchmark Tool, we thought it would be fascinating to explore what kind of experiences shoppers had over the past month while searching for dog and cat costumes.
You can use our Benchmark Tool by setting up a free Yottaa account. It can give you an ongoing health report on your eCommerce site compared to your competition over any period of time.
In the spirit of Halloween, we analyzed the performance of the following pet Websites during October. In addition to six costume sites, we couldn’t resist tossing in a gourmet pet snack company as well:
- CostumeCraze.com: Dog Rider costume that lets a stuffed monkey play jockey with your Fido.
- PartyCity.com: Princess Leia dog costume, complete with earmuff hairdo.
- HalloweenCostumes.com: Darth Vader costume, voice changer not included.
- Amazon.com: Shark cat costume, Jaws theme not included.
- PetSmart.com: French Maid dog costume.
- Petco.com: Halloween Orange and Black Nail Caps for cats.
- PetFoodDirect.com: Beer Bones Pumpkin Harvest Dog Biscuits.
We don?t know why a dog owner would ever choose a frilly French Maid costume, but we’ll leave that speculation for another article elsewhere.
Take a look at the “Traffic Light” metric chart below. Areas shaded in green reflect a superior web performance (top 25 percent of all websites). Yellow means needs improvement (middle 50 percent), while red indicates poor web performance. The pet sites are ranked in order of Time to Title, which is how long it takes for the name of your website to appear in the browser bar ” a key indicator to your customer that they are on their way to purchasing your stuff.
Analyzing the Results
Now let?s take a look at the critical Time to Interact metric, which means that your eCommerce site is fully functional and ready to take orders. As you can see, there is quite a large range, with CostumeCraze’s Dog Jockey being twice as fast as PetFoodDirect’s pumpkin biscuits and Petco’s colored cat nails. Giving the racing theme of the costume, perhaps it was destiny:
What?s the big deal you say? What?s a few extra seconds to wait for the puppies and kittens you love? Well, it?s all about the user experience. When a customer is accustomed to quick browsing and checkout on an eCommerce site, it will become really obvious when their shopping becomes a hassle. (See the Aberdeen Group Study, “Customers are Won or Lost in One Second“.?) And, there is no shortage of other pet costume sites to turn to out of frustration. Star Wars costumes, for example, are available at a myriad of e-retailers. Stores that sell one of the characters likely stock them all. So in our friendly holiday competition, why is HalloweenCostumes.com?s Darth Vader (6+ sec) almost one-third faster than PartyCity.com?s Princess Leia? Presumably, in a foot race Leia would easily scoot by Vader, who is weighed down by all that life-sustaining equipment.
What?s really weighing down Leia? Using the Benchmark Tool, we clicked on a random URL test sample taken in San Francisco on Oct. 25. The product page?s Time to Interact was an abysmal 24.6 seconds!
Think about being first in line at a supermarket and having the cashier blankly stare at you for 25 seconds before he or she will take your money. Chances are, you?d walk out of that store without your groceries.
A closer look at the Content Complexity of this product page indicates an immediate problem. Web pages are slowed down by Content Weight and by Asset Count. The larger the files and the more assets, regardless of size, the more sluggish your site will be.
The typical number of images on a page is no more than 25. Here we have 78. The solution is to reduce the number of images (perhaps by combining some) or reduce the size of images when applicable.
You can quickly isolate the problem area by scanning the Yottaa Waterfall Chart, which is a visual representation of where content is flowing and where it is interrupted. The Waterfall breaks down the loading speeds of every web page asset, which in this case is 195 separate items. The longer the bar, the slower the loading speed:
Your IT manager can click on the problem areas and best determine how to alleviate the logjam (or check out how Yottaa automates the process). In PartyCity’s case, a thumbnail photo of a different style Princess Leia dog costume (the bikini version) and a Costume Size Chart for Dogs are responsible for slowing down the rest of the site. (Learn more about how to read and respond to your own Waterfall Charts here.)
How to Identify Speed Bumps on Your Site
Yes, seeing a cat scamper around in a shark costume is super cute. But there?s nothing even remotely cute about poor web performance. Find out what?s happening in your neck of the woods.
First, try out Yottaa’s 24/7 site monitoring capability and see how you?re faring against your competition. Then, curl up with some leftover Halloween candy and download “A Beginner’s Guide to Web Performance” that more deeply explores all these metrics and tells you how to act on them.
The free service includes email, text and SMS alerts to keep you in the loop whenever site-critical issues arise. See what your users see from any device, any location and any browser ? and make shopping a lot less scary for them!