Seeing an opportunity to capitalize on a one-day online shopping bonanza the likes of the United States sees with “Cyber Monday” and China sees with “Singles Day,” Google India created the Great Online Shopping Festival (GOSF) in Dec 2012, collaborating with a few online shopping portals to provide heavy discounts across a large number of sites.
The 2014 GOSF took place over a 72-hour period, concluding December 12, 2014. Over 450 companies participated selling everything from houses to motorcycles, and everything in between. When all these online stores compete against each other giving away massive discounts to attract visitors to their websites, the best way to please a buyer is not just through attractive deals, but by creating the smoothest user experience possible throughout the entire buying process.
Catchpoint monitored the performance of some of the top 16 eCommerce websites during this year’s GOSF to see how exactly these popular sites performed.
Starting with the websites’ homepage performances, we focused on two critical metrics: Webpage Response, which measures the time it takes for all of the elements on the page to load, and Document Complete, which is the time it takes for the user to be able to interact with the page.
We put the websites in two groups based on the findings for better analysis:
Group 1 – Websites with relatively strong performance and experience.
Group 2 – Websites who could have done better in delivering their content.
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While all companies would have spent weeks preparing for this festival, we see some high variation in performance caused by high traffic during the sales. We also observed that few websites were well prepared to ensure that the pages loaded faster, and the end users were able to interact with the page as soon as they arrived.
However, some websites took more than four seconds to let their users to interact with the page and five seconds for the full page to load. After drilling down a little into the performance data, we observed that these websites were generally heavier than their better performing counterparts, thus taking a very long time to load. It is always recommended to have a very light webpage to ensure all the contents on the page load quickly.
Websites with high resolution pictures, images, and banners are always used to make websites look attractive and intuitive, but during busy and high traffic times, it’s best to focus on delivering the content faster.
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Special shopping events like this are always going to lead to heavy traffic, as millions of people log on to try to take advantage of sales while they’re still available. With bandwidth issues such as these, we’re bound to see users experience packet loss at critical peering points, thus drastically slowing down the performance of the sites.
Therefore, it’s always best to be well prepared before every sale to keep the customers in mind. That means ensuring all the industry best practices – lighter sites, optimized images, placing elements after the onload event, etc. – are taken into consideration, to ensure there is no revenue loss. After all, the ultimate goal is to keep customers shopping on your site rather than those of your competitors, and the surest way to do that is by making sure that their experience is as fast and smooth as possible.