Ludvig Bohlin, ShimmerCat, and Robert Winter, Elastisys

Poor performance cost Swedish e-commerce millions in lost Black Friday sales

Elastisys and ShimmerCat from 2018 and facts from Amazon about the impact of performance on e-commerce show that more than 260 million SEK in potential sales were lost.

It’s that time of year again! The holiday shopping season has taken off like a rocket, with an estimated 6.5 billion SEK in sales during Black Friday alone. Swedish e-commerce made record sales again, but still, the cost of poor performance is far too high.

Measurements by Elastisys and ShimmerCat from 2018 and facts from Amazon about the impact of performance on e-commerce show that more than 260 million SEK in potential sales were lost. For no good reason.

Like last year, we have kept track of performance of the 89 most popular e-commerce sites for Swedes. The sites are both local and international ones. We check both whether the sites are able to serve traffic at all and how quickly they do it. Insights from 2018 are:

  • 11 percent slower full-page renders on average, compare to normal business days.
  • 25 percent of sites loaded more than 10 percent slower than average during Black Friday.
    Average delay exceeded 400 milliseconds.
  • 20 of the 89 sites were inaccessible during at least half an hour in total during Black Friday.

The normal time to fully have rendered the page is, on average, about 3 seconds. This is in itself a poor result. During the two peaks related to Black Friday, full-rendering time goes up to 4 seconds or more. That whole second is for every page view, every product page visited, which means that sites feel slow as molasses. More than a 33% increase during peak times!

Mean response times for our Black Friday 2018 experiment with the most popular local and international e-commerce sites for Swedish customers.
The only good thing about the graph is that it shows that apparently people are not shopping during the daytime when they are at work. Or at least not to any great extent, as performance was mostly normal.

260 million SEK in lost potential sales

E-commerce sites that are not responding at all obviously fail at selling products. So for the 20 of 89 sites that experienced more than half an hour of downtime, the results are abysmal. But while responding at all is a necessity, it is not at all sufficient. Because slow sites are frustrating to use. And when we are frustrated, our shopping mood quickly evaporates. Amazon has found that even a 100ms increase in response time costs them 1 percent in lost sales.

“Our measurements show that customers of these e-commerce sites are subject to 400 millisecond delay increases on average. Translated into SEK, that means that 260 million SEK were lost”, says Robert Winter, CEO of Elastisys. “And for nothing! What a waste!”

Robert continues by noting that “it is really interesting to see a 150 percent performance degradation since last year. The average additional delay was just at 255 milliseconds then, but now we have a whopping 400 instead.”

The performance solution

“Using machine learning, sites can be a step ahead in terms of performance. That way, customers are only ever met by a fully-functioning site. This is how Swedish e-commerce can reach its full potential. And that is extra important today, with increasing competition from both the East and West”, Robert continues. He is referring, of course, to both Wish.com and Amazon that are both aiming hard for the Swedish e-commerce market.

Elastisys has patented predictive technology that uses machine learning to determine how much server capacity is needed. It bases its predictions on current customer demand and how much pressure they put on the site. By predicting when capacity will be insufficient and acting beforehand, customers are always met with a pleasant shopping experience. With the global giants moving in on the Swedish market, can e-commerce companies afford to not do everything in their power to treat their customers well?


Text by: Mikael Hansson

Published: 27 November, 2018



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Mikael Hansson

27 November, 2018