Swedish electronics retailer Dustin and ebook store Ad-libris had the fastest response time among Sweden’s largest etrade companies during Christmas, according to a study by the Swedish IT company Apica. Response times on the Ad-libris website was on average 1.7 seconds during the past holiday season, and Dustin’s was 1.8 seconds. Slowest of the tested etrade companies was clothing company Haléns with a response time of 6.6 seconds.
Online trade is ever increasing and new sales records are reached every Christmas. This Christmas was no exception. Interest from and visits by shoppers was much greater than previous years. For the e-trade companies, it is important to be able to serve customers swiftly and reliably and not their sites do not go down or load too slowly during the busy Christmas period.
Apica, a Swedish IT company that tests, analyzes, monitors and improves web performance of companies and organizations, has tested and evaluated the home pages for a number of leading Swedish e-trade sites during the past holiday shopping season. The results show a surprisingly large spread in response times between different e-trade companies, but also stability and good response times for most of them.
On average it took 3.6 seconds for an online shopper to “enter the store”, to download the start home page, during the Christmas week (December 19 to 25). The fastest and most reliable was the electronics company Dustin and the ebook store Ad-libris. They were the only sites that responded after less than two seconds (1.8 and 1.7 seconds respectively).
Slowest over the entire period was the e-clothing company Haléns with a response time of 6.6 seconds on average. Haléns was also completely down for a few hours after Christmas (December 29).
Clothing company Bubbleroom was the most uneven site: the average was an acceptable 3.3 seconds but some periods it took more than a minute all the download the start page.
No preparedness for year-end sale
It is worth noting that several of the sites had very slow response times in the days from December 25 and onwards, i.e. the days after Christmas. The “online year-end sale” is a new trend that the Swedish e-trade companies have apparently not heard of, and were not prepared for. Electronics company NetOnNet had by far the biggest load problem; the site had periodically very slow response times on 25 and 26 December when the site was slow due to a record number of visitors.
“Response times are too long during ‘peak’ load. At most three seconds’ response time is acceptable even under high load. That is the time when you win or lose customers to competitors. If the site is too slow, the user will loom for the same product on another site. It is especially sad if the e-trade company has paid for expensive television commercials in order to drive traffic to the site”, said Sven Hammar, CEO, Apica.
“The long response times during peak loads is because the e-trade companies are now actually getting the really high number of visitors that they could only dream of before. Usually there is no alternative if the load exceeds capacity. If this happens, even if only for a short time, it can easily create a ‘snowball effect’ of impatient users who are constantly hammering the ‘reload, F5’ button and like an avalanche forces closure of a site that is incapable of progressively handle the load.”
It is worth noting that many pages are quite large, often over 1 MB in size. The largest was 3.7 MB and the smallest 440 KB. Dustin and Ad-libris, i.e. the fastest sites, are relatively small sites: under 800 KB. Load times for pure images are often more than 50 percent of the total time for all items on the page. The sites that have tight pages and effective solutions to accelerate image objects has an inherent advantage over the others.
“All else being equal, it is obviously desirable to have fast response times because Internet savvy and impatient people can easily leave a website if it takes too long to download, concludes Sven Hammar.
The average response times on selected e-trade companies start sites are as follows:
Page size (MB)
Images in % of total time for all objects
For more information please contact Sven Hammar.