Competing For Customers
The stakes are high for businesses operating in the competitive environment that exists in 2014.
Many retailers invest thousands and sometimes millions of pounds to create websites that ensure their organisation stays ahead in their field. According to Summit who are a company that specialise in online marketing and eCommerce:
“Websites that are slow to load pages will cost UK online retail £8.5 billion in 2013”
Visitors to a site that is slow, will simply get bored or frustrated if they have to wait too long to download pages, see images or locate information that they need. If a site takes too many seconds to load a potential customer may choose to browse or shop elsewhere. The British Retail Consortium states that in 2012:
“the value of internet retail sales was £29 billion, accounting for around 9% of total retail sales.”
and the trend for online shopping continues to increase annually. In the UK 2014 has been the wettest on record so far and this has lead to even more people opting to order goods online rather than face driving through storms and flooded roads to shop. Damien Carrington at The Observer writes.
“January was England’s wettest winter month in almost 250 years”
Increases in parking prices and fuel costs also has a role to play in the growth of internet shopping.The UK Office of National Statistics supports this theory and also reported that
“Internet sales, which are seasonally adjusted for the first time in this release, increased by 11.8% in December 2013 compared with December 2012.”
Convenient For Visitors
Websites that are not business orientated will also struggle to retain precious customers if users are unable to access the content they need quickly. Charities and community orientated sites that contain a lot of visual information could be losing out on contributions unless the site is convenient to use. Millions of films, documentaries and advertising videos are now viewed on the web every month. Julianne Pepitone comments in a CNN Money article how how amazing it is that online movies downloaded in 2012 in America alone meant
“paid transactions hit 3.4 billion”.
When visitors enjoy and engage with a website then they often comment, share, purchase and link to the site. This increases the search engine ratings and therefore attracts more people to try the website out, leading to a rise in website popularity and success.
Be Aware of Speed Limits
How the user interacts with the website and what they are trying to achieve are key elements in deciding the overall speed of the website. All the functions that the visitor will encounter as he or she navigates through the site, will also need to be reacting, at just the right speed. Jakob Nielsen of Nielsen Norman Group suggests that occasionally the computer can
“react so fast that the user cannot keep up with the feedback”
and Nielsen uses a good example: a quickly spinning web-page scrolling list, that is impossible for the website visitor to select from.
Website speed best practise is currently being studied in a current ‘BBC lab UK’ test that will scientifically categorise users behaviour online. The test identifies seven different online user types. These types are based on preferences such as people who are ‘quickest to surf the web’ and those who ‘like multi tasking’.
Animal analogies are used to describe these groups of users and their behaviours. The results of this BBC study are not available yet. It is an interesting idea and we look forward to the results on the BBC lab UK website. This study highlights how we are all different, in terms of how we interact with websites and use the internet.
Personal Best Speed
Currently there is trend for personalisation of the products that are available to purchase online. This personalisation occurs both physically in the products available for purchase and also in software that provides a more personalised communication. An example of this is an email marketing program.
There are now retailers who will suggest specific fashion clothing to be purchased online that suits an individuals requirements. Sarah McVittie and Donna North founded Dressipi which is a UK based free fashion advice and recommendation service. Dressipi have a ‘fashion fingerprint’ service which assesses body shape, style, colours, size, brands, measurements and age to suggest garments and accessories tailored to their customers exact details.
Many printing companies produce personalised products using names and images uploaded by customers. Commercial communication from companies online is now often personally addressed and targeted to the potential customers interests and profession. Therefore it is a logical progression that website speed will become more personalised in the future.
Barilliance who are based in the Middle East help e-commerce sites of any size to
“increase sales and conversion rates by providing visitors with a personalized shopping experience.”
Custom software includes special coding by Barilliance that can be added to a clients website to enhance service delivery and therefore increase sales for businesses. Philidelphia based Monetate describe how they focus on helping their online clients to
“understand your customers’ situations, behaviors, and preferences and act on those insights with in-the-moment, relevant experiences targeted to the right customer.”
Paypal’s 5 Digital Trends for 2014 has Personalisation as its number 3 on the list and explains “Tools such as Barilliance and Monetate offer the ability to display different information to different types of visitors.”
The Future is Faster and at Speed to Suit
Get the timing right and people will be happy to stay and browse and it will add a professional quality to your website. They will be able to order products and services or interact successfully. Visitors to a website will have different objectives depending on the type of website and its aims. The right speed means users can do whatever they need to do and be entertained, comment, purchase and achieve their online goals.
Over the next few years websites will inevitably develop to be faster and more responsive than ever. The individual habits, nature, abilities and preferences of a website visitor may all be analysed. This personal profile may automatically adapt to enable the website to provide us the selected data, image or entertainment that the user personally wants from each website.
It is an exciting to think that it is likely, in the near future, that website content will appear instinctively and at exactly the right speed for our specific needs.
British Retail Consortium 2014-02-05 Retail Stats And Facts Article
The Office of National Statistics 2014-01-17
Damian Carrington 2014-02-01 The Observer January was England’s wettest winter month in almost 250 years
Sarah McVittie and Donna North 2014-02-13 “What is Dressipi?” Fashion advice and recommendation service
Julianne Pepitone 2012-03-22 CNN Money, Money.CNN.com
Jakob Nielsen, Nielsen Norman Group (based California) Evidence-Based User Experience Research, Training and Consulting
PayPal 30-01-2014 5 Digital Trends for 2014 by PayPal
Sam Thorn, Retail Reporter, Summit Team 2013-11-22
“£8.5 billion down the drain: the real cost of slow site speed”
BBC labUK 28-01-2014 Take part in groundbreaking science “The WebBehaviour Test Eight Animals”
David Brussin CEO Monetate, E-commerce, Software & Marketing
Nir Ben-Dor, Founder Barilliance E-commerce, Software & Marketing