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Snail-Pace Sites A Major Factor In Losing Online Sales

29 March 2010 - 11:05 by Simon Crisp

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You can imagine that what must frustrate an online retailer even more than the absence of shoppers using a site for safe shopping online would be consumers using the site, filling the shopping cart with purchases, but then ultimately leaving the site before completing the sale and making payment.

Odd as this behaviour may sound, there can be quite a few reasons as to why a consumer might think twice or leave an eRetail site at the last moment, perhaps the most obvious being that they may have realised they cannot actually afford the purchase after all!

However, a recent study from eCommerce hosting provider Hostway and software specialists Zeus Technology has identified a number of factors leading to site desertion which may be of considerable interest to online merchants.
It appears that what really annoys consumers attempting safe shopping online are slow loading times on sites. 46% of the 2,033 consumers surveyed in the study blamed agonisingly slow page load times as being a reason why they may abandon a purchase. Online retailers should therefore look to take any steps necessary to improve their site loading speeds. Slow load times may also hamper search engine indexing which could, in turn, reduce a site's presence in the search engine results, adding further fuel to the argument to improve performance.

Other major factors that have been identified as frustrating consumers include poor site navigation; search functions that don't return relevant products; or simply poor page design and cluttered layouts. Ultimately, consumers expect to be able to find items quickly and accurately whilst on an online retailer's site and anything that may act as a barrier in achieving this goal has the potential to upset consumers and may result in abandoned searches or indeed, sales.

Advertising and the use of animated or multi media content also require careful consideration in maintaining an acceptable user experience. It is essential to remember that users will access a given site using a wide variety of browsers and devices, many of which may struggle to render multimedia content. In focusing on search engine optimisation, many retailers have ignored the design of the user experience, a trend that the statistics clearly suggest must be reversed.