An e-commerce website that grinds to halt simply because there are too many customers attempting to gain access at one time is akin to a supermarket with no parking spaces and isles so narrow that only one shopper can enter at a time, while the rest sit outside waiting to enter and make a purchase.
Few website owners would accept such poor performance and potential loss of revenue, and even fewer consumers would tolerate the waiting time. Most would just move on to another site where service is speedy and meets their expectations.
Thankfully a small, but growing, number of website owners have realized that performance management and capacity monitoring are imperative for delivering even a satisfactory customer experience, let alone an exceptional one.
It's no coincident that roughly 30% of 500 website owners surveyed for Load Impact’s 2013 State of Web Readiness report which includes data from performance tests of over 5,000 websites, claim to have no stability or performance problems, while about 30% of respondents also said they regularly do preventive load testing before technical changes. Those who foresee the problem take the necessary preventive steps. On the flip side, while nearly 90% of respondents said short response time is either important or very important, 23% of respondents said they don't monitor the response time on their site at all.
How can such a gap exist when it’s so obvious that optimum performance leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction, increased conversion and greater revenue?
For the less mature e-commerce sites, current performance problems can be seen as both an opportunity and a threat. While some e-retailers are already far ahead, having scheduled load tests to maintain a sub 2 second response time (77% of all respondents believe response times should be less than 2 seconds), most haven't even come close to realizing they have a problem. An analysis of over 5,000 load tests revealed that the average website owner overestimates capacity by 3.4 times. In fact, the average page load speed for the e-commerce sites analyzed was closer to 8 seconds - nearly twice the average latency of non e-commerce sites studied.
Clearly, big rewards can be reaped by making even small changes to website performance. A 2009 experiment by Shopzilla revealed that decreasing latency by 5 seconds (from 7 seconds to 2 seconds) increased page views by 25% and revenue by 7% to12%. And, according to SEO expert, Jason DeMers, load speed is one of the growing factors in Google's ranking algorithm.
The Internet giants caught on to the issue of load testing and performance management long ago. Authors and consultants have written books about it, held conferences, and written blogs for years. Google even officially favors fast web sites in its search results, indirectly punishing low performers.
So why are so many e-retailers so slow to catch on about the importance of performance stability?
According to the 2013 State of Web Readiness report, lack of resources is identified as the No.1 reason for failing to monitor and optimize performance levels. However, this is only a part of the problem.
The real explanation has more to do with striking the right balance between functionality, performance and resources, and the fact that, more often than not, optimizing two of the three means sacrificing the third. Therefore, it is often the misallocation of resources that explains a site’s poor performance. Money and time that should have been spent monitoring capacity and load speed instead went to adding additional, often frivolous, functionality.
The lack of sufficient investment in performance management is extremely common. In some ways, buying performance management services is a bit like buying insurance, you understand why you need it, but if all goes as planned you don’t actually get a chance to see the value.
Being forward thinking enough to buy something so intangible is tough.
Other fundamental website issues, such as security, have slowly climbed the ladder of being class A requirements. Even the most technically illiterate now steer clear of any feature that comes with a security concern. From our vantage point, the time has come to give performance and stability management the same time and attention – if for no other reason than it’s simply smart business.
Read or share this infographic based on our study's findings.