Adidas grabbed the No. 1 spot on a list ranking e-commerce site performance of 80 retailers—even though it earned the equivalent of a failing grade.
When it comes to designing retail websites for digital screens both small and large, there’s typically a trade-off between building in rich features that enhance the shopper’s experience but drag down site performance, or some will hold off on the third-party integrations with an eye toward site speed.
Consumers are notoriously impatient when it comes to slow-loading pages, so the decision to pile on extra features—with good intentions, of course—isn’t necessarily an easy one when these add-ons sacrifice speed. In its inaugural e-commerce website performance report last year, RSR Research set out to discover how 80 retail brands from Internet Retailer’s Top 500 were performing in this area. Its most recent findings, sponsored by Yottaa, indicate that if retailers’ websites were schoolkids, they’d be practically flunking out of school.
While retailers’ e-commerce performance achieved an average 45 percent (time for a parent-teacher conference?), even Adidas’ “top” score comes in at the equivalent of a D—a dip from from the highest, D+ score last year.
“This means the needle is moving in the exact wrong direction and is the direct result of retailers adding third party functionality (a good thing) to their sites, but without testing for the effect those features are having on performance (a bad thing, indeed),” RSR said. “All the features and functions in the world won’t matter if the customer can’t access your sites at a rate commensurate to his/her fast-paced lifestyle.”
There were bright spots among the dismal showing, however, especially on mobile sites growing more aesthetically pleasing and more usable by the day. RSR said it was “impressed” that Lululemon and Tommy Hilfiger, both of which cater to a younger, well-heeled, phone-addicted audience, put video content front and center on their mobile landing pages. Chat functionality is popping up on more retail sites, whether it’s automated or connects users to a live rep. Shoppers who visit RalphLauren.com on their smartphones encounter a chat button that discreetly lives on the left margin of their screens, ever ready to launch a conversation.
“These little touches make a big difference and quickly add up to a mobile experience that feels far more modern than what’s currently offered on aging desktop sites,” RSR said.
In the report, RSR also noted that mobile appears to have eclipsed desktop, as retailers chase the form factors that young shoppers can’t live without. However, some brands continue to devote resources to building a robust experience for the PC. American Eagle and Shoes.com have invested in functionalities including store locator and other localized information, social sharing, reviews and recommendations, and live chat—the “high-value” third-party integrations that earned each the maximum points for the Shopping Experience category. Despite getting top shopper-friendly marks, some of these retailers landed near the bottom of the list for website performance, again highlighting the constant tension between experience and site speed.
Amazon has never really been known for creating beautiful websites, and yet retailers have seemed helpless and all but resigned to concede market share to the e-commerce behemoth as it rose to power over the years. Now, RSR, said, retailers are showing signs of life versus the elephant in the room.
“Retailers have had several years of Amazon eating their lunch now, and it appears that 2018 will be the year many stop freaking out about it and start fighting back,” RSR said. “Will their ability to build online community on both desktop and mobile sites scale faster than Amazon can scale?
Adding to that, RSR said, “Only time will tell, but it is encouraging to see them taking action.”