£8.5 billion down the drain: the real cost of slow site speed

Posted: Friday 22nd November 2013 in eCommerce Technology, News.

Websites that are slow to load pages will cost UK online retail £8.5 billion in 2013, according to new research by Summit, specialists in online marketing and eCommerce, which has conducted an in-depth study on some of the biggest online retailers. Download the full report.

The findings of the research paint a stark picture of lost opportunities. Looking at 230 of the leading retailers trading online shows that over 92% are failing to meet the industry’s 3-second page load benchmark, while some are running as high as eight seconds or more. For a retailer turning over £10 million on line, that means lost revenue of as much as £1 million. Find out how your site stacks up against the benchmark using our Performance Checker tool, and find out how to quickly improve your site’s performance using these top tips.

The research targeted the top 230 sites in the UK (Hitwise and Retail Week) and looked at the overall average page speed result, from home page, search page, product page and category page, at peak and off peak periods over three days.

Average load times for all retailers across all pages were:

  • Home: 4.11 seconds
  • Search: 4.08 seconds
  • Category: 4.25 seconds
  • Product: 5.20 seconds

The problem was industry wide with only travel standing out; 20% of the sector’s sites met the benchmark average. In retail, the winners, whose average site speed was three seconds or less were Fenwick, Fortnum & Mason, Fraser Hart, Freemans, Hobbs, Jessops, Timpson and Zara.

Hedley Aylott, CEO of Summit, said, “Everyone talks about website speed, but only as a technical issue; this is the first time it has been aligned to loss of revenue. We’ve exposed the cost of slow websites to British retail. There is significant revenue to be recovered by making your sites work faster. In some cases this amount could be enough to open a brand new store.”

Summit’s findings are backed by research from Aberdeen Group, which shows that a one second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions, an 11% reduction in the number of pages viewed, and a 16% decline in reported customer satisfaction.

Average load times for all retailers during peak and off peak















Product pages that are slow to load are where retailers are most vulnerable to lost revenue.

For fashion consumers, browsing on eCommerce sites is an important part of the decision making process. A slow site can frustrate shoppers and reduce the number of pages they view leading to a reduced average order value.

Andrew McClelland, Chief Operations & Policy Officer at IMRG, the UK’s industry association for online retail, says “Customers are faced with increasing levels of choice all the time, across a wide range of channels, networks and devices. The impact on visitor bounce rates (where a user arrives at a retail site but leaves without visiting any other pages) has been clear to see in our Quarterly Benchmarking Index; in 2010 the average rate was 21.7% for the year but by 2012 this had risen to 27%. The competition for consumer attention is only going to get fiercer going forward, and improving load times may prove advantageous in keeping key metrics such as bounce rates down.”

Slow product pages can also be a turn off where customers have invested in the journey, from home page to category to search, but a positive experience up to that point is then spoiled. Many will either quit or buy less, where their precious time is being eroded by slow product page load speed.


About Summit

Summit is the UK’s specialist in online retailing. For 13 years we’ve worked for some of Europe’s most successful retailers and brands helping them use the internet to attract more customers and make more money. Last year we delivered over £300 million of sales online for our clients.

Our services break down into three areas – retail consulting and advice, online marketing, and eCommerce platforms. We have over 150 staff in the UK and Europe working alongside our clients, helping them transform their businesses by thinking and acting differently. That’s why we call ourselves Changemakers.

Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. www.summit.co.uk