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Fast Mobile Sites Are a Must

Retailers preparing for high volume of online holiday shoppers

October 31, 2014 | Retail & Ecommerce

November is nearly here and with it comes the pressure of the holiday season. But are retailers prepared for the high volume of ecommerce—and now mcommerce—shoppers flooding their systems?

According to a new report from Radware, a provider of application delivery and security solutions for virtual and cloud data centers, shoppers are not pleased with retailers’ mobile page performance as it stands. The report, “2014 State of the Union: Mobile Ecommerce Performance,” found that the median m-dot page takes 4.8 seconds to load on an iPhone 5S. The average shopper expects pages to render in less than 3 seconds, but only 15% of full-site pages load in fewer than 4.8 seconds. That wait time slows to 7 seconds if the consumer is accessing the site on an iPhone 4S or an older device.

A full site can take up to 11 seconds to load on an iPhone 5s or 15.2 seconds to load on a 4s.

During the 2013 holiday season, mcommerce sales—on tablets and smartphones—accounted for a significant chunk of total ecommerce sales, Adobe’s January 2014 Digital Index reported. On Black Friday, mcommerce sales reached 26.2% of total ecommerce sales; on Cyber Monday, they accounted for 18.3%. Tablets were the primary device by which customers shopped.

Retailers with subpar mobile performance run the risk of shoppers getting fed up with a site that takes too long to load—and exiting from the site altogether. Performance problems include images and videos taking too long to load. These are critical to businesses reliant on visual media the way that retailers, especially luxury brands, are. But these images also comprise half of an average page’s total wait.

The study lays at least some of the blame on the idea that retailers cashing in all of their chips on responsive design: The site may look great and seamless across platforms once it loads but by then the shopper will be long gone. Most shoppers bail after three or four seconds, the study announced.

Shoppers even begin to fear slow-loading pages. When a shopper reaches the checkout screen on an ecommerce site and the page loads slowly without confirmation that the sale went through, 44% of online shoppers fear that slow checkout pages mean that the transaction was a bust. The next stop is almost always a competitor’s site.

Shoppers have especially high expectations for mobile sites. They assume that the sites will be as in tune with their on-the-go lifestyles as their devices are. But, as it stands, many sites are not meeting their expectations. Some m-dot sites appear on tablets when shoppers are expecting a full desktop-like experience. One in five m-dot sites do not even allow shoppers to access the full site. Others just load too slowly altogether.

With mcommerce sales expected to increase by 32.2% from 2014 to 2015, according to eMarketer, retailers who are unable to make it work for the holiday season best find out a way to do so at the start of the New Year.

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