Shocker: Consumers Hate Waiting For Slow Web Sites

Well, wouldn't you know it? Consumers hate, hate, hate waiting for web pages to load, and they have no sympathy whatsoever if the site is being hammered during a "peak time." That's the conclusion drawn by a soon-to-be-published survey by Gomez, which found that while consumers were more than willing to wait in long checkout lines in retail stores during the holidays, they had little to no patience for waiting in digital checkout lines as sites get slammed during the end-of-year rush. A curious world we live, yes?

The survey, which was conducted in December of 2009, found that the vast majority of consumers expected web pages to load quickly regardless of what time of year the site was visited, and that goes for travel, retail and most any other type of "serious" site. If it's a business, and it's online, consumers expect near-instant page loads. Anything less, and all sorts of bad things begin to happen.

The Gomez survey had the following findings:

  • A third of online shoppers had a bad experience on a retail Web site during the recent 2009 Holiday shopping season and 15 percent found the problem to be “unacceptable.”
  • These bad online experiences caused nearly one in five online shoppers to shop at another site.
  • In general, 41 percent of online shoppers will only tolerate one or two bad online experiences before abandoning a retailer’s Web site.

credit:  Gomez Inc

Around 1500 people were consulted for the study, each of which were familiar with conducting online transactions during "peak" periods. Over 2/3rds of those polled said that they had no more tolerance for slow page loads for peak times compared to normal times, and 78% of the group said that they would click over to competing sites if they encountered slow page loads or other associated errors. Even more startling was this: 88% of those questioned said that they would be less likely to return to a slow performing site, with most of them admitting that they had other options and thus no real need to stick around and wait things out.

Are you one of those impatient ones?  Do you give a site a second chance if they're slammed during a peak season?  How much tolerance do you have sites that load sluggishly?