Does Your Shopping Cart Have a Square Wheel?

More and more shoppers used a mouse to do their Christmas shopping in 2010.  This holiday shopping season has broken records with comScore reporting that retail e-commerce spending for the first 26 days of the November 2010 holiday season was $11.64 billion, marking a 13-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year.  Despite the growing propensity for people to do their holiday shopping online it appears that many online retailers are providing their electronic shoppers with carts with a square wheel.

Standardized User Experience Testing…

Recently Gomez launched the Compuware Gomez Retail User Experience (UX) Index which uses Apdex (Application Performance Index) to give the top 500 online retailers a user experience-based score.  The Apdex takes into account response time, consistency as well as availability and assigns a single score. Gomez assigns every unique test an outcome of Satisfied (Page response time of 2 seconds or less), Tolerating (Page response time of between 2 and 8 seconds), or Frustrated (Page response time of greater than 8 seconds or the test failed).  A score of 100 means that all users are satisfied and a score of zero indicates all users fell into the frustrated bucket.  Generally a score of lower than 70 is poor while 85 and above is good to excellent.

…And How Retailers Have Been Falling Short

Well the results are out for the Thanksgiving shopping week and they are not pretty. The norm for the Internet Retailer 500 Index was below 70, or poor, for the whole week and inevitably dipped on Cyber Monday to a 62 ranking.  The top 15 Websites performed considerably better with a consistent index in the mid-low 80s.   The impact of this “poor” performance on online retailers’ bottom lines must be incredible in terms of both immediate lost revenue and long term decrease in customer loyalty.

In fact an independent study commissioned by Gomez showed that 78% of consumers have switched to a competitor’s Web site because they encountered slowdowns, errors and transaction problems during peak times and after a poor online experience, 88% are less likely to return to a site, 47% have a less positive impression of the company, and 42% have discussed the experience with family, friends, or online on social networks.

Rounding the Square

Considering the impact that poor web performance has on an online retailers’ brand and bottom line, it is surprising that more are not taking advantage of the solutions that are available to repair that square wheel on their shopping carts. Online retailers can avail themselves of services that cache static content, such as images, on distributed servers across the Internet and accelerate the delivery of dynamic content. These services can significantly improve the reliability of a e-commerce site as well as improve page load times often by 300% or more. Not to mention, smooth out the square wheel on any ill performing online shopping cart.

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