The “Milliseconds Make Millions” report made it clear: on mobile, the loading time of sites is critical. Deloitte analysis proved that a mere 0.1s change in load time influences every step of the user journey, ultimately increasing conversion rates. Although it is nice to see it on paper, it feels like it is not breaking news. Lagging load time is both annoying and harmful to business bottom lines. 

Check out "Milliseconds make Millions" by Deloitte

We have all experienced slow loading sites on mobile, in particular, and - given the scale of smartphone usage - it is not a channel that marketers can ignore. 

The data leaves no doubt. In 2020, according to Statista, the number of mobile users worldwide reached 6.95 billion, and forecasts suggest it will rise to 7.1 billion by 2021. By 2024, it will be 7.41 billion.

What is more, mobile already accounts for about half of world-wide-web traffic. In the second quarter of 2020, mobile devices (tablets excluded) generated 51.53 percent of global website traffic.

We are all mobile nowadays, even though not every one of us uses mobile devices for activities more complex than scrolling social media feeds. Still, smartphones are continuing on the path to replacing desktops as the primary internet-connected devices. In the parts of the world where smartphones never had any real competition, the dominance of mobile is already evident. Markets in some parts of Asia or Africa are not even mobile-first but mobile-only due to weak or non-existent traditional infrastructure in large areas of the continents. In Europe and the US, the landscape is different, but the changes - forced by new customer behaviors - are happening in real-time. 

The shift towards mobile - or better said - omnichannel presence is already happening globally, and the pandemic has accelerated the tendency. 

According to Strategy Analytics’ Global Mobile Media Forecast: 2015-2025 report, COVID-19 boosted worldwide revenue on content consumed on mobile phones by 28%, and that is just the beginning. In the “contactless” reality, consumer demand for accessing the most popular online services via mobile channels which will rise (desktops will be continuously used for work-related activities) as the trend is already supported by the scale of smartphone usage and increasing coverage of LTE and 5G networks. And the more time we will spend on mobile (and we will also because of the lack of better options these days), the more we will get used to getting things done only via smartphones. 

Shopping is no exception.

Mobile must be fast 

Mobile remains a challenge, despite the fact it is obligatory for brands in order to stay relevant. Most brands are stuck in a desktop-oriented mindset and are reluctant to move forward. Although the majority of them have already implemented a Responsive Web Design approach, it is only the first step, as being truly mobile-friendly was never just about accommodating displayed content to the screen size; it was always about an in-depth understanding of mobile users’ needs, which differ a lot from the desktop. 

No wonder that - in the cases of most brands that have just dip their toes in the eCommerce pool - shifting to so-called mCommerce seems overwhelming. And yet, with a not-too-subtle poke from Google, there is now no other way. 

The current competitive gap will widen between brands that provide a great mobile experience and those who don’t. And so brands need to take the speed-related issues deadly seriously in order to win customer loyalty.

It has never been easier for a consumer to abandon in favor of more personalized customer service, an app with higher self-service utility value, and crucially, a better mobile experience.

Deloitte, “Milliseconds make millions”

According to a study quoted in the Deloitte report, 70% of consumers admit that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer in the US. Latency is the number one reason why consumers decide to abandon mobile sites, with 10% blaming slow downloads as a reason for not purchasing. Google’s data proves that even the tiniest fraction of a second in page load can significantly change customer focus and interaction. 

As page load times go from… The probability of bounce increases, according Deloitte, by:

Of course, site speed is not the only one thing mobile users expect. They want their entire journey to be seamless and intuitive. And with lagging loading times, there is no foundation on which to provide acceptable UX. 

Key takeaways from Deloitte’s report:

With a 0.1s site speed improvement, Deloitte’s analysts observed:

Deloitte’s analysis focused on the influence of speed increment in the retail, travel, lead generation, and luxury sectors. They proved that speed matters across all businesses. However, it is quite surprising to observe which part of the customer journey was influenced the most by performance.

Retail

In retail, speed is crucial especially on product pages, and it is better to focus on improvement at that part of the business. As Deloitte analytics pointed out: “Many people visiting your homepage are already loyal to your brand while those going straight to the product page might be coming from an ad they click while searching for this item on multiple sites. It will be easy for them to bounce and go to a competitor if your site doesn’t load quickly enough.”

User transactions were measured to increase by 8.4% when there was a 0.1 second improvement in the 4 site speed metrics.

Travel

Customers looking for travel destinations are far less flexible and spontaneous than in retail. Mostly, they came with specific needs already identified and want to fulfill them effectively. They are also less hasty to abandon the site due to poor mobile UX. However, by no means should that shouldn’t lead to the conclusion that taking care of mobile UX is, in this case, a waste of time. The majority of research in the travel sector is happening across devices. 

A 10.1% increase in conversion rate on mobile was measured when there was a 0.1 second improvement.

Luxury

The luxury sector had its own rules when it came to prioritizing business channels. The consumers looking for high-end items are still somehow resilient to buying them with one click, preferring more traditional, “human-to-human” ways of shopping. Digital channels in this sector were, for years, perceived primarily as a branding tool. Nowadays, also because of the circumstances arising from the pandemic, it is changing. More and more luxury brands are paving their path to the eCommerce world but - as they can’t afford to blur its identity in the name of sales - they must find a way to align these two goals.

In this sector, like nowhere else, it is crucial to find more sophisticated technical solutions to increase performance, as it is impossible, for example, not to have high-resolution pictures on the site. The tech stack must provide solid customization possibilities without sacrificing the performance to meet their expectations.

Improving site speed observed a decrease in the bounce rate for mobile users on the homepage, product listing page, and product detail page. Conversely, the product listing page bounce rate on desktop increased by 4.8%.

Lead generation 

Lead generation brands (e.g. insurance sector), much like luxury brands, typically want to encourage consumers to schedule a conversation with a sales representative. They are not focused on providing superb mobile UX, providing any needed information instead. Yet, the positive influence of performance improvement was noticed where users submitted a contact form.

There was a substantial uplift of 21.6% when progressing from step 1 to form submission. 

What is the solution? 

Having said that performance matters, it would be convenient to give an easy tip on how to improve its metrics. However, there are no shortcuts and easy answers as site speed depends on so many factors. 

However, decoupled architecture and, in particular, body-less platform-agnostic front-end is slowly becoming one of the most effective and future-proof ways to secure site speed.

How can we be bold enough to use the “future-proof” phrase, when the situation is changing at a breakneck pace? Well, that’s exactly the point. Decoupling the front-end and building the entire system around API provides flexibility which enables the changes that will eventually be necessary, without pretending that everything can be predicted ahead. It is the most efficient way to be prepared for the unknown.

Read more about the advantages of decoupled architecture.

A stand-alone front-end, such as Vue Storefront, can provide a performance increase at every step of the customer journey, the flexibility to further customize according to the brand guide, and omnichannel presence. It, therefore, covers pretty much all of the needs identified in Deloitte's report.