Page load times on retail websites have increased by seven per cent over the past year, potentially costing firms millions in lost sales as customers go elsewhere.
The data was gathered by website performance management firm Dynatrace. The company took page load readings every 10 minutes for 12 months on 300 leading retail websites in the UK, US, France, Germany, China, Australia and Spain.
Dynatrace found that the average page load is now 4.5 seconds, up from 4.2 seconds in 2015.
Over this period UK retailers lost their position as the fastest page loaders, rising from 2.9 seconds in 2015 to 3.7 seconds in 2016.
Tesco came out on top in the UK with a response time of just 0.8 seconds, with an average page size of just 0.2MB.
Next was second, also at 0.8 seconds, but with larger page sizes, while Apple was third, Sports Direct fourth and Matalan fifth.
Spain now boasts the fastest load times at 3.3 seconds. Bringing up the rear is Australia with a whopping 8.2 seconds compared with 5.4 seconds in 2015. China and France saw page load times improve.
Dynatrace explained that retailers' efforts to create more engaging websites, often adding elements such as social media widgets and more pictures, are having a big impact potentially at the cost of business.
“Every digital moment and every touch point is vital to retailer businesses if they are to succeed,” said Dave Anderson, vice president of marketing for EMEA and Asia Pacific at Dynatrace.
“While lags in performance are concerning, they also present a big opportunity to measure response times more closely and link it to revenue.”
The report noted that one big problem is the reliance on third-party elements that have to be recalled from various servers. If one is not performing well it can affect the entire experience.
"The more hosts, the greater the time lag your site will potentially experience. Most third-party hosts make individual connections to external servers to obtain the functionality and serve it to the consumer," the report said.
"Your site’s ability to load all components can be dependent on the performance of all third-party servers. Put simply, if those external servers are having problems this will create load issues for your site."
What's more, with so many operating systems on the market, especially variations of Android, it can be tough for site managers and developers to keep track of what needs fixing.
"Ensuring sites are performing for a myriad operating systems and devices
keeps developers in a perpetual reactive state, trying to isolate performance problems in a maze of apps and plug ins," the report said.
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