E-commerce can look forward to a bright future. By the same token, customers are becoming increasingly demanding. Above all else, providers need to better cater to the target group of mobile users.
Online customers are buying more than ever before. The most important trend here is that the number of buyers shopping on mobile devices has increased by a factor of 2.5 in the course of the past five years. This was the finding of the “2014 Consumer Web Performance Expectations Survey”, which was compiled by the service provider Akamai in collaboration with market researchers of the global market research company TNS.
On a similar note, Ericsson, the Stockholm-based manufacturer of base stations for mobile communications, estimates that the number of smartphone contracts will increase by 15% per year by 2020, resulting in 6.1 billion smartphones online worldwide. This has significant implications for e-commerce: in 2009, only 16% of smartphone owners bought online, but this figure soared to 40% by 2014.
Customers scared away by long loading times
Mobile shoppers represent a challenging and dynamic target group, one which buys more, as well as more frequently, than PC users. But as expectations grow, so does impatience. Just over half of respondents are not prepared to wait longer than two seconds for a page to load. Japanese customers are particularly demanding and only accept page loading times of less than one second.
The operators of online shops now have their work cut out to provide buyers with a pleasant shopping experience. Long loading times or unavailable websites are the main annoyance. Operators should primarily make sure that their online platforms are scalable to the extent that they can offer more and more visitors a fast and trouble-free connection.
The aforementioned Akamai survey also found that customers with smartphones and tablets spend more money than PC users, spending on average around €160 per month (compared to around €100 for PC users). More than half of online purchases are made in the categories of fashion and footwear, followed by books, songs, films and video games. Somewhat further behind are online purchases in the categories of travel, computers, electronics and office supplies.
Top performance is key on Black Friday
In the United States, there are particular load peaks on occasions such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, caused by promotions and customised marketing campaigns. As a service provider, Akamai recorded three times more data traffic on the last Black Friday than in all of 2014, and four times more than in 2013. This is not surprising because the fourth Friday in November has been the strongest sales day of the year for both the stationary and online trade since 2005.
It would be disastrous for an online shop to have poor availability on those particular days. The Aberdeen Group estimates that a website with a daily turnover of US$ 100,000 loses around US$ 2.5 million per year when its pages are slow to load. The reason for this is that half of the disappointed users continue their shopping on another platform. One in five will not return to a poor website a second time. Disappointed shoppers tend not to come back. (Source: Akamai/bs)