Page Loading - The 8 Second Rule

It’s been over a decade since the formulation of the eight-second rule for e-commerce sites. The rule states that if a site doesn’t load within eight seconds, most visitors will leave and go elsewhere. After this most visitors will leave and go elsewhere. Most online retailers are aware of the rule and the importance of page speed monitoring to ensure their site loads quickly.

However a decade on, and particularly when visitors are using mobile devices, eight seconds is far too long to expect them to wait for a page to load. In addition, with so many demands on people’s time, visitors want to be able to complete a transaction quickly once they do gain access to your site. You have only one chance to engage your visitors, to give them the product information they’re looking for, or respond to any post-order concerns they may have.

A recent study by marketing firm Econsultancy illustrated just how much of a hurry visitors are in. The study showed that about 50% of online shoppers look for help only once before giving up and going elsewhere, and about 70% expect to receive some assistance within five minutes of asking for online help. The study also revealed that the preferred choice of 56% of customers was receiving assistance in a single interaction as opposed to 4% who preferred using social media access to receive help.

The study also indicated that customers exhibit two types of behaviour when they seek assistance. One type prefers to help themselves. The self-servers like community forums, a knowledge base of FAQs and how-to articles and other types of relevant content. They prefer to watch a video or read material to get the help they need. The other type of visitor prefers to get help via email or on-line chat. In either case, they are looking for fast assistance. If they don’t, half of them will leave without making a purchase, and they may never return.

There is no single approach that will satisfy the needs of all your visitors and customers, but you should consider having these forms of communication on your site.

  • Prominently display a telephone number that customers can use to ask questions both before and after making a purchase.
  • Prominently display a contact email address.
  • Provide a simple online contact form,
  • Provide an online chat function, especially during peak hours and holiday shopping seasons.
  • Provide a knowledge base and a FAQ link, preferably incorporating a search function and a list of major categories.
  • Provide supporting information that includes how-to guides and technical specifications.
  • Provide images or videos that demonstrate how to use products.
  • Provide links to social media corporate profiles. Be sure you keep the profile up to date and check them on a regular basis.
  • If you sell products that are complex to use or assemble, provide a link to a community-oriented forum where customers can share their experiences with the products.

Providing timely assistance to your customers will make them happy and happy customers become loyal customers who will continue to purchase your products and recommend your site to their friends and networks.

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