As part of Click Frenzy I tracked the performance of the top retails using Dynatrace Synthetic Monitoring.
Site performance is never more important than during peak shopping periods like Click Frenzy. Dynatrace shares its Click Frenzy data and offers tips for getting your site ready for Christmas.
When it comes to site performance, speed is the number one priority for consumers, ahead of features and functionality. And peak period sales events, like Click Frenzy, emphasise this. People want to grab a bargain, pay and move on to the next deal. Shoppers have a low tolerance for problematic sites so any site taking longer than three seconds to load will drive folks away. And that means lost sales.
A good way to look at it, is like this: US retail giant Nordstrom pegs its optimal site response time at 2.5 seconds for customers, with a mere 0.5 second slow down equating to an 11 percent reduction in conversions.
This data tells a revenue story that translates perfectly to our local retail industry. Australian consumers are just as fickle, demanding, vocal and connected as their US and UK counterparts, and the pressure on retailers to provide a ripping customer experience has never been greater.
For most of this week, Dynatrace has been monitoring the website performance of about half the retailers who participated in this year’s Click Frenzy event. We tracked their data every 15 minutes from Melbourne and Sydney, and across three browser types (Firefox, Explorer and Chrome). Specifically, we’ve has been watching how long it takes for a site to fully load, which is when someone can properly interact with all the features and is obviously crucial for shoppers keen to make a purchase. We also tracked first paint time, which measures time lapsed from when a user keys in the URL to when the first signs of the site start to appear on their screen. Finally, we dug a little deeper and looked at the technical make up of each site and made some observations on why these factors are inextricably linked.
1) Sites are too slow
In the 24-hours leading up to Click Frenzy the data showed that most retailers were serving up an average response time of 8.19 seconds, which is five seconds slower than the US and UK average. There was another group whose sites were taking longer than 15 seconds to load, with the slowest 10 retailers averaging a full response time of 17.70 seconds. This is concerning when you consider that the peaks of Click Frenzy traffic were yet to hit.
The top performing sites deserve a mention for keeping stride with consumer expectation and industry benchmarks. These sites—which include Jigsaw, Uniqlo, Anaconda, Godfreys, Portmans, Spotlight, Papinelle and Shaver Shop—were averaging 3.8 seconds at this point.
However, for many other sites, the data showed that the average retailer struggled somewhat to cope with the fluctuating traffic congestion, even as early as three hours into the event. At this time retailers were averaging a response time of 11 seconds. This is simply too slow.
2) Some retailers do get it
Getting into more detail, Bonds appeared to be proactive with their site performance, removing a troublesome third-party component that was impacting their speed. Our data identified that the response times had blown out to 20+ seconds, but with their change, dropped to between 5 and 7 seconds.
Granular site performance breakdown for each site. You can see the spread of response times covers a big distance, with one particular site clearly failing at regular intervals.
3) Problems are diverse
The issues that caused sites to slow during the event varied greatly. Some were simple and just needed an image to be optimised, while others were more technical, such as browser compatibility issues with the latest version of Internet Explorer.
The data also identified a number of sites that struggled with hosting performance. This caused extremely high first byte and first paint times of beyond 10 seconds, which guarantees users will bounce from a site.
Recommendations for Christmas
Based on this data, Dynatrace has provided the top five tips for optimising your site in preparation for Christmas.
- Make sites lighter by optimising images and files.
- See how your site performs under stress. Optimise the site and then run load testing to imitate what might happen at Christmas.
- Keep your hosting provider’s service level agreement (SLA) in check. Downtime and slow first paint time will cost you.
- Understand the impact of third-party hosts. During peak periods it’s critical to keep a close eye on slow performing third-party components so you can proactively remove and restore fast delivery.
- Set SLAs for performance, monitor your users, and adjust accordingly. This includes understanding mobile performance.
This Christmas we’re expecting an increase in the number of people shopping online but they’ll be quick to abandon if sites aren’t performing. Retailers must apply the same attention to detail when creating digital experiences that they do for the in-store shoppers or revenue will be lost.