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A visitor hits your retailing website and waits, and waits, and by the time you finish reading this sentence, she’s back to the SERPs to find a better site than yours.

Fast and furious doesn’t come close to satisfying the need for speed online visitors crave when they arrive at your virtual doorstep. After four seconds, any patience that visitor had has left the pits in a roar of mouse clicks.

Gone in four seconds. That’s a scary prospect during the big holiday shopping season. According to the JupiterResearch study commissioned by Akamai, that’s all the time people will put in to waiting for your site to load.

So no pressure there.

Only high product prices and shipping costs rate as a higher annoyance than a slow site with consumers. With Cyber Monday rapidly approaching, it is time to do what you can to speed things up for new and returning customers.

JupiterResearch summarized the findings in their study of site abandonment:

•  The consequences for an online retailer whose site underperforms include diminished goodwill, negative brand perception, and, most important, significant loss in overall sales.
•  Online shopper loyalty is contingent upon quick page loading, especially for high-spending shoppers and those with greater tenure.
•  JupiterResearch recommends that retailers make every effort to keep page rendering to no longer than four seconds.

Retailers should also consider the thoughts on website speed as discussed by Google VP Marissa Mayer. She told attendees at the Web 2.0 Summit that while users preferred thirty results per page from a search, they weren’t patient enough to wait for more than ten.

Google is one of the fastest sites on the Internet, too, and people can get impatient with it.

People want to get in to your site, and get out of your site in short order. If there are obstacles to doing so once the pace of shopping demand rises for the holidays, they are likely to look for a brisker competitor.

It’s a tall order. Some sites may need to reformat graphics to a more effective size and format, a process that could involve thousands of images. Other sites may be limited by their underlying architecture, like the middleware or the database connections they use.

There could even be operating system settings on a web, application, or database server that need to be adjusted to improve performance. If you can put fixes in place for any of these issues rapidly, the bottom line could benefit nicely.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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