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Load speed is everything

Ensuring that website pages appear quickly is vital to stop customers losing patience and going elsewhere

In the fast-paced world of ecommerce, online enhancements are top priorities for businesses. However, simple elements like how long a site takes to load can sometimes be overlooked. With so many sophisticated websites on offer, online customers can quickly lose interest, impacting both the brand image and sales. So it is important that etailers work to prevent this happening.

The main elements that affect the “weight” (size) of a page are large images or rich media content. Videos can be a great way for fashion retailers to show product online, but will have a detrimental effect if they stop the rest of the page loading. Images need to be clear, especially with the increased use of the zoom tool, but they do not need to be the huge files that are often required in offline print promotions.

Although it is not always practical to test the load time of every page on the site, there are some elements that should always be checked in order to maximise impact. As Mark Gunn, Europe, Middle East and Africa marketing director at web performance specialist Gomez, says: “Make sure that mission-critical [such as marketing campaigns] and business-critical transactions perform optimally under load.”

Gunn suggests looking at load times when releasing new features or adding third-party services to a site. It is also advisable to check load times when launching new marketing campaigns and preparing for peak times on site, so that customers are not given any reason to shop elsewhere.

Gunn says businesses should look at where traffic to the site is coming from and ensure the site is optimised for that specific country. “For example, in Germany the dominant browser is Mozilla but in China it’s Internet Explorer,” he says.

By finding out how customers are shopping and the type of technology they are using to do it, businesses must alter the site accordingly.

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