How 250 Milliseconds in Added Latency Can Ruin Online Sales This Holiday Season

December 25, 2013
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ImageIn the midst of this holiday shopping season, business owners find themselves facing countless demands to increase profitability. Many businesses weather the holiday shopping blitz by utilizing digital tools to increase marketing effectiveness. What many businesses don’t realize, however, is that they could be funnelling their customers to a digital presence that can be slow and unpredictable in response times.

ImageIn the midst of this holiday shopping season, business owners find themselves facing countless demands to increase profitability. Many businesses weather the holiday shopping blitz by utilizing digital tools to increase marketing effectiveness. What many businesses don’t realize, however, is that they could be funnelling their customers to a digital presence that can be slow and unpredictable in response times. This deterrent can potentially cost the retail market over $42 billion by the end of the year*, crushing any hopes of achieving the typical holiday boost in sales.

So why is a low-latency, consistent web experience such a significant piece of your digital pie?

As you can see in this infographic about website latency, consumers today have high web experience expectations. We’re talking detail attentiveness down to the millisecond. In fact, according to Harry Shum, a computer scientist and speed specialist at Microsoft, 250 milliseconds in additional latency is all it takes to lose a visit to your competition. That’s just over half the speed of a blink of an eye.

A single second in slower latency drops your web viewers’ chances of converting to a sale by 7 percent and the number of pageviews by 11 percent. To add insult to injury, for those who do convert, that one second is proven to cause a 16 percent decrease in customer satisfaction. Ouch!

By choosing a Hadoop distribution that provides strong consistency and continuous low latency, you’ll have happier customers, higher conversion rates and an increase in your bottom line.

Take Control of Your Website’s Latency and Consistency

Not only does your web need to be fast, it needs to stay that way. Many businesses assume their sites have reasonable latency, not knowing that its volatility is off the charts.

In the chart below we look at two Hadoop distributions. The red line illustrates the unpredictable volatility that can be experienced by many business websites using one particular Hadoop distribution. As you can see, latency spikes and drops several times. This adds a whole new variable to conversion rate optimization.

The green line in this graph represents the MapR M7 Edition. This is the optimal scenario in which users experience high performance with consistent low latency.

So how else do you ensure that your holiday productivity isn’t diminished by roadblocks hidden in your website?

Make It Personalized. Make It Responsive.

Optimizing your customers’ online experience also involves tailoring it to their preferences. With the integration of big data analytics via Hadoop, businesses can process more data than ever before. This gives the ability to discover the personal hot spots of each unique consumer. Everything from social conversation, device preference, browsing behavior, clickstream data and more can all be applied to the user experience.

A responsive website design is a necessary foundation to this process because it automatically adjusts to certain parameters the user has already set, such as device and browser selection. Combining business insight decisions made from data discoveries with a responsive web design creates a seamless user experience that feels tailor-made straight out of the gate.

Retarget and Retarget More

Rather than burning through the influx of holiday traffic, the combination of big data and retargeting allows businesses to rework visitors through the sales cycle multiple times. Retargeting visitors after they’ve bounced increases the conversion rate of the lead and decreases the overall cost of acquisition.

Test In The Real World

The viewer’s internet service provider, their location, the variety of objects within the page and the number of requests to the page being made also play a role in the speed of a website. Testing your website speed is best done under real world conditions. Identifying the trouble spots in the speed of your website can only be done when all factors are being considered.

Applying these principles to your online holiday season initiatives will result in happier customers, higher conversion rates and an increase in your bottom line.

*One second in slower latency will result in a seven percent loss in conversions. Seven percent of retail sales projected in 2013 is $42.14B.