Online Shoppers Quick to Ditch Slow Websites

Online shoppers want speed and convenience and are more than willing to jump to a competing Website if the checkout process is taking too long.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping insanity on the horizon, small businesses with an online presence could find themselves reaping a windfall of sales—if their Websites are fast enough, that is.

A survey released Nov. 19 by cloud and Web application monitoring software provider Monitis found 56 percent of consumers who spend more than two hours per week shopping online have cancelled an order due to an error or slow response time. In addition, almost three-quarters (74 percent) of all online shoppers said that they would switch to a competing online vendor if they could find a better user experience and faster Website than the one they currently use.

Frequent online shoppers are even less tolerant of slow e-retail Websites, with 86 percent of consumers who spend two or more hours shopping each week claiming they would abandon their chosen online vendor if they found a faster competitor. Unsurprisingly, 81 percent of respondents cited convenience as the reason they prefer to shop online as opposed to physical retail stores. However, speed, cited by 40 percent of respondents, ranked below price and availability of merchandise.

More than half of all respondents (56 percent) also indicated that Website usability is an important factor when comparing one retail Website to another, coming in just behind price and reputation. The survey also found 61 percent of all online shoppers would leave a Web page and search for a competing vendor if it took longer than 30 seconds to load.

“Simply avoiding downtime is often the primary goal for Web developers and designers when maintaining Websites, but as the holiday rush has shifted to online stores, success depends less on the minimum threshold of uptime and more on meeting the various other expectations of shoppers, to keep them coming back,” Monitis general manager Hovhannes Avoyan said in a statement. “Consumers turn to online vendors for convenience, so it’s critical that e-retailers ensure a positive shopping experience by focusing on Website usability and speed.”

Although online shopping removes the need for consumers to make their purchases during the normal operating hours of brick-and-mortar businesses, the report found the most popular time to shop online (40 percent of all respondents) is actually during typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work hours, while the next largest group (32 percent) of online shoppers typically shops in the early evening between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The survey, which polled 1,006 online shoppers in the United States, was conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of Monitis. The company was acquired by GFI Software, a company that provides the small to medium-size business (SMB) market with Web and mail security solutions, in October 2011.