How Speed Influences Customer Satisfaction and Sales in Commerce

Mar 11 2024

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The Need for Speed in Commerce Becomes Clear

Vendors invest in innovative solutions that often fail to deliver expected benefits because of poor software design. Customer expectations have never been higher, and they increase daily. In the past, B2B suppliers and retailers relied on low prices or unique features to lure customers, but today, speed is the great differentiator. However, many suppliers flunk the speed test, a major reason is their reliance on generic ecommerce solutions. To clear that hurdle — and grow your customer base, you need to recognize the problem, find a third-party specialist that understands your value propositions, and fine tune your ecommerce applications.

Increasingly, businesses are overwhelmed with the wide and expanding variety of services they need to deliver to create a viable business. Facing many ecommerce challenges, they focus on their core business by handing other duties, such as building an ecommerce system, to specialists. Yet, they find themselves sometimes investing a lot of time, manpower, and effort into projects that yield disappointing results. Why? They pick the wrong experts.

Speed Becomes the Top Priority

B2B suppliers and retailers traditionally competed on price, but with the rise of the Internet and social media, the focus nowadays has turned more toward the overall customer experience. It starts and sometimes, unfortunately, ends with an ability or inability to serve up web pages and present information quickly and effectively.

Time has become more compressed as the world becomes more complicated. The Internet and the rise of mobile devices eliminate much of the traditional friction between suppliers and customers. Tech-savvy businesses and consumers have grown impatient and will not wait to be served like in the old days. You get a millisecond or two to present information that piques their interest or else they will click away to a competitor’s site. A lack of ecommerce functionality, inaccurate record-keeping, and poor website design were among the top reasons given for the change.

Small Delays Create Big Shortfalls

Delivering compelling content to users at high speeds is a complex area, one gated by many factors. In this case, perception becomes reality. If the end user thinks that results are delivered slower than desired, the impact is felt, no matter how seemingly small the differences are. For example, Google found that slowing down search page results by 100 milliseconds to 400 milliseconds reduced the number of searches a user conducted by -0.2% to -0.6% respectively. Those numbers translate to 0.2% to 0.6% fewer searches for delays of less than half a second or the time to read one short word in this sentence.

Furthermore, user expectations increase as they become more familiar with a brand. Individuals experiencing 200 ms delays completed 0.22% fewer searches during the first three weeks of visiting, but 0.36% fewer searches one week later. Similarly, users exposed to a 400 ms delay completed 0.44% fewer searches during the first three weeks but 0.76% fewer searches during the second three weeks. In sum, customer expectations rise as they become more familiar with your services, so you cannot rest on your laurels.



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Ecommerce Inefficiencies Become Clear

In essence, your infrastructure is being evaluated every time a person logs in, no matter how long they have been a customer. These demands have a direct — and either positive or negative — impact on your bottom line because the buying process has changed dramatically. Ecommerce sales are rising. The global ecommerce market size is expected to reach $2.357 trillion in 2027, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.7%, according to Grand View Research.

But ecommerce sites are not very efficient. Suppliers’ sites often fall short of meeting high customer expectations. Great page systems enable people to get more done and engage more deeply, but bad page experiences stand in the way of a person finding valuable information, and company ultimately closing a sale. A one second delay in page load time decreases conversion rates by as much as 7%, according to Salesforce.

Understand Page Metrics

Optimizing the quality of the user experience is key to the long-term success of any web site, but how? The first step is determining your current status. One challenge is companies have many different measurements at their fingertips.

  • Loading Experience measures the time that passes from when the client hits the Enter key until the moment when the page is fully
  • Runtime Processing: after a page loads, how quickly will it respond to the next user interaction?
  • Interactivity is how much content the visitor deems as interesting by clicking on various hyperlinks
  • Visual Stability of Page Content measures how well your content is displayed on various user devices.
  • First Input Delays quantifies the experience users feel when they first interact with the page.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift evaluates visual stability and quantifies the amount of unexpected layout shifts of visible page content.
  • Page Experience measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. This area focuses on optimizing interactions and making them more engaging for users working with different web browsers and mobile devices.
  • Smoothness focuses on questions, like do transitions and animations render at a consistent frame rate and flow fluidly from one state to the next?

Vendors Flunk the Speed Test

Various metrics demonstrate that many ecommerce sites struggle to perform at optimum speeds without proper architecture. Leading eCommerce platforms, such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Magento, Shopify, SAP Commerce Cloud (Hybris), and Oracle Commerce Cloud, struggle to keep up with the latest advancements in speed and the growing number of technologies that must be integrated to their core offerings.

Why? A few reasons. Every company is unique. The top solutions are built generically, products that satisfy the widest possible array of customers. To reach that goal, vendors willingly sacrifice depth for breadth. They avoid special programming functions that would speed up information delivery nor do they spend the time needed to meet unique application demands.

As a result, enterprises often pay a lot of money to vendors and third party specialists that deploy generic solutions that do not include the most important feature: delivering pages to potential customers at warp speed. These organizations then become quite frustrated. After all, they invest in consulting services with the expectation that they will grow the business, but they find themselves hamstrung.

The problem will probably get worse because speed promises to become an even more significant measurement as the industry moves forward. Google’s Page Experience Update is rewriting the SEO rulebook once again and increasing the importance of website speed for visibility. New, weighted Google algorithms rank pages more on the overall user experience, so slow ecommerce stores will plummet even lower than before.

What to Look for in a Partner?

How can a company break through the speed barrier? First, you need to reflect on the thinking behind your ecommerce deployment. Did your vendor or third party take your order and follow a boilerplate checklist? If so, they are not delving into what makes your business, technical infrastructure, and site unique nor using that information to finetune your ecommerce solutions and create a system that delivers content instantly, so you maximize your selling potential.

In their place, you need a consultative partner. Such a company has deep knowledge of ecommerce system design and can find quick wins for you among the low hanging fruit. They then move onto deeper engagements. The partner understands the importance of a good design and its impact on a solution’s speed. They have experience with top ecommerce engines and tools and most importantly tailor them to your organization’s strengths rather than slap them in in a drone like fashion. They work with you to clear the speed barrier, satisfy your customers, and drive growth in a market where time is so precious.

For more helpful tips, advice, and best practices on how to improve yourecommerce website speed, start a conversation with our Customer Experience Solutions experts.