A study of websites in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, China, Australia and the Nordic region, found that China and Australia were among the slowest to load.
The study, by digital performance management company Dynatrace, measured the time for the leading retail sites to load. It was carried out between 24 November 2017 and 3 January this year. No indication was given of how many stores were surveyed in each country.
Dynatrace found that:
- On average, global retail websites for consumers doing online shopping between Black Friday and 3 January were visually complete and ready to use within 2.5 seconds;
- Shoppers in Germany and the UK could access and browse retail websites the quickest, whilst Australia and China lagged behind the rest;
- Retail websites in the US were 42% slower than Germany and 39% slower than the UK.
This differs from the commonly used response time metric, which measures the total time it takes for all website elements to load – including those that users can’t see and therefore don’t impact on their experience.
Dave Anderson, digital performance expert at Dynatrace, said: “Consumers expect websites to load within three seconds or less, so these results make for good reading for retailers.
"Germany and the UK are out in front when it comes to user experience, but there’s still work for retailers to do in other countries. The numbers involved may be considered fine margins, but the slightest delay in user experience can have a ripple effect on sales.
"For example, US-based fashion retailer Nordstrom reported an 11% fall in sales following a slowdown of just half a second.”
The analysis of global visually complete times found the best online experience predominantly in western European countries - Germany (36% faster), the UK (32% faster), France (7% faster) and the Nordic region (4% faster) all had consumer experiences that were faster than the global average of 2.5 seconds.
The US (10% slower), Spain (14% slower), Australia (15% slower) and China (42% slower) lagged behind the global average.
"Providing shoppers with a great online shopping experience is vital for retailers looking to succeed in the cut-throat world of ecommerce," said Anderson.
"Our visually complete metric was developed to help organisations focus on what really impacts user experience. While response time is still an important metric, it doesn’t give enough of a view on the user experience.
"If retailers just focus on response time metrics, they could reduce the time it takes for the full website to load, but not actually have any impact on customer experience and the time it takes for a website to be ready to use.
"Therefore, visually complete should be the key measure for any organisation looking to truly understand online user experience.”