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Posted By Yottaa on 06/25/2018 in Ecommerce

New eCommerce Research Study: Online Retail Sites "Embarrassingly Slow"

New eCommerce Research Study: Online Retail Sites

According to a new eCommerce industry report, retailers continue adding more and more functionality to their eCommerce websites through third-party technologies without understanding the performance impact and the inconsistent shopper experience it creates on user’s devices.

A new Retail Systems Research (RSR) report released today titled, “2018 eCommerce Performance: The Stakes Are Increasing, But Are Retailers Falling Behind?” evaluates 80 major retail websites on page speed performance as well as shopper experience. The study found that site performance, especially on mobile, is “embarrassingly slow” as third party technologies are impacting page load times. The report, a follow-up study to RSR’s inaugural research on eCommerce website performance in 2017, was sponsored by web optimization vendor Yottaa.

RSR, an industry market intelligence firm that helps retailers make more strategic decisions about the role of information technology in their enterprise, conducted the study from April to May of 2018. In keeping with the methodology used in last year’s report, RSR assembled a list of 80 top retail sites, and then tested the speed at which each retailer's desktop and mobile sites loaded, evaluated the ease with which a shopper could find a product, and noted what ancillary tools (product reviews, recommendations, personalization, chat features, etc.) were provided to make the shopping journey more satisfying. The retailers were then ranked from 1 to 80 based on the collected data.

“Today, the stakes in online retail have increased as consumers’ appetites for shopping on eCommerce websites only continue to grow,” said Steve Rowen, Managing Partner, Retail Systems Research (RSR). “Yet based on the findings in our report last year, the signs were already in place that retailers were barely keeping up in terms of website performance – let alone staged to handle such a massive eCommerce increase. The findings in this year’s report further validate that retailers need to find ways to improve site performance."

Below are key findings from the report that illustrate the performance challenges that many eCommerce sites face today. The full RSR report can be downloaded here.


  • The Average Score This Year Was 45% - Retailers did not do well in this evaluation. In fact, the highest score this year was only a 63% - down from a D+ last year. These scores mean 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). All the features and functions in the world won’t matter if the shopper can’t access a site at a rate commensurate to his/her fast-paced lifestyle.


  • Mobile Performance Is “Embarrassingly Slow” - While many retailers received high marks for beautiful, intuitive, and shoppable mobile experiences, almost all retailers were penalized for very slow mobile performance. An average grade of 37 led RSR to conclude “most retailers’ mobile performance is nothing short of embarrassingly slow.”


  • Third Party Requests Are Slowing Down Sites - Retailers’ growing desire to build more functionality into their shopping experience is a noble endeavor. However, most of these features are coming from third parties, which are causing slow page loads. The average number of third-party requests for the retailers in the report was 139, representing a 50% growth over last year. In terms of actual third party technologies implemented, most of the sites tested had between 30-40, with Chicos leading the pack with 47 third parties on its site.


Click here to download the full RSR report “2018 eCommerce Performance: The Stakes Are Increasing, But Are Retailers Falling Behind?”


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