The adage “time is money” is generally credited to Benjamin Franklin. In the present day, it could be updated to, “the more time it takes for an e-commerce site to load, the more money that business stands to lose.”

That’s according to a new survey by Digital.com, which asked 1,250 online shoppers how long they typically wait for web pages to load before abandoning a website and their intended purchases. The results show that customers know their time is valuable and are prepared to spend their money elsewhere if they feel e-commerce sites are wasting their precious seconds.

Key Findings

  • 53% of online shoppers expect e-commerce pages to load in 3 seconds or less
  • 21% of consumers say slow-loading pages are their main source of dissatisfaction when shopping online
  • Half of customers will abandon their shopping carts if pages don’t load fast enough
  • Businesses with slow-loading pages leave a negative impression on 45% of customers

Half of online shoppers expect a website to load in 3 seconds or less

The plurality of online shoppers, 39%, think pages on e-commerce sites should take, at most, 2-3 seconds to load. Fourteen percent of consumers want pages to load in one second.

These expectations are not out of line, according to digital marketing executive Huy Nguyen.

“In today’s digitally-connected world, where many people have access to high-speed internet at home and on the go through their mobile devices, it’s completely reasonable for consumers to expect a quick and easy online shopping experience,” Nguyen says.

However, when it comes to actually being on a website and waiting for pages to load, shoppers may exhibit a bit more patience.

Nineteen percent of respondents say, on average, they will abandon a web page that takes longer than 2-3 seconds to load, while 8% will leave after one second. Twenty-five percent of online shoppers will abandon a page that doesn’t load within 4-6 seconds.

Pages that load slowly top source of dissatisfaction for 1 in 5 online shoppers

Regardless of how long they think it should take pages on e-commerce sites to load, 21% of online shoppers say pages that don’t load fast enough are their main source of frustration when shopping online.

Other top sources of dissatisfaction include security concerns (20%), unclear or unintuitive site navigation (15%), and sites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices (15%).

When a site takes longer to load than they think it should, customers are most likely to blame the company for not having the necessary infrastructure to run a functioning website (46%).

However, a lack of infrastructure can be easily remedied, Nguyen says.

“There are many tools available for site managers to check page load speeds to ensure they provide an experience that is on par with other successful online businesses,” he says. “These tools can analyze a website’s infrastructure, assets, and any third party applications that may bog down the performance of the site. These tools also provide specific recommendations on what to fix and how to better optimize the site for mobile users.”.

Consumers also assume websites take too long to load because the page has too many large elements (44%), or the website has issues with spam and viruses (32%).

Forty percent of online shoppers are willing to take part of the responsibility, blaming their own weak Internet connection.

1 in 2 online shoppers will abandon their cart if pages load too slowly

For online retailers, slow websites often lead to lost sales. If a web page is taking too long to load, half of online shoppers will leave the site, abandoning their carts and any items in them.

Meanwhile, 21% of shoppers may not leave the site, but will stop shopping sooner and buy fewer items than they intended.

While 48% of shoppers will try refreshing a page a few times before leaving a site, 14% are more cutthroat. When pages take too long to load, these shoppers immediately leave the website and don’t return.

“Online consumers have become accustomed to the fast load times and easy navigation that online giants like Amazon and Walmart provide,” Nguyen says. “These online marketplaces have invested heavily in providing customers with a frustration-free shopping experience. Other online businesses need to provide a similarly smooth experience, or they may lose potential customers.”

Websites that load slowly leave a negative impression on 45% of shoppers

First impressions mean a lot in e-commerce. If a website’s pages take too long to load, it can drastically affect customers’ opinions.

Forty-five percent of respondents say they get a negative impression of a business if its website takes too long to load. Forty percent are neutral, while only 15% say they still have a positive impression of a business with a slow-loading website.

Dissatisfaction with a website visit also translates to lost business. Thirty-two percent of consumers are not at all likely to return to a website if they are frustrated with their experience, while 52% are only somewhat likely.

Only 16% of customers say they are very likely to return to an e-commerce website if they are unsatisfied with the first time they visit the site.

Methodology

All data found within this report derives from a survey commissioned by Digital.com and conducted online by survey platform Pollfish. In total, 1,250 American adults were surveyed. This survey was conducted on Sunday, January 16, 2022. All respondents were asked to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their abilities. For full survey data, please email Content Marketing Specialist Kristen Scatton at [email protected].