Site speed is vital for e-tailing

3 October 2014

SYDNEY: Around half of Australian internet users will quit slow-loading websites after only a few seconds, a new survey has found, and while many will blame their connection the problem may lie with the site construction.

Squixa, a website acceleration platform, polled 1,250 people for its Internet Experience Survey and found that almost three quarters expected websites to load in less than five seconds on a desktop; they were more patient for mobile, with around half prepared to accept up to 15 seconds.

Overall, 43% of respondents said they would immediately exit slow-loading websites and only one in five would revisit the site, whether that was for online shopping, reading news or viewing other content.

"Website speed is often ignored or an afterthought for Australian online businesses, but it's an absolutely critical component of online sales," said Stewart McGrath, co-founder and CEO of Squixa.

"The survey results demonstrate that eyeballs and clicks will simply go elsewhere if websites aren't living up to a customer's expectations in what is a highly competitive online environment."

In fact, 71% said they were more inclined to purchase from a site that loaded quickly. "It might only be a second or two, but both the risks and benefits for brands are real and tangible when it comes to website performance," McGrath stated.

Over half of those surveyed thought that slow load times were linked to their internet connection, with wireless typically somehow at fault.

McGrath noted "huge spikes" in the number of consumers visiting online retail stores from mobile devices. "While Australians may think longer wait times are due to poor wireless internet connection, the reality for website owners is that the construction of their site is often causing delays," he said.

Asked if they noticed any difference in loading speeds between Australian and overseas sites, respondents were equally divided, with 40% voting for 'yes' and the same proportion 'no'.

But even if international websites were slower to load, this was not generally a factor in a decision to purchase locally or internationally.

Data sourced from Inside Retail, Marketing; additional content by Warc staff