The origin of the term “Black Friday” dates back to the 1960s to describe the day after Thanksgiving as the time when retailers’ books went from red to black. As time goes on, Black Friday continues to be the biggest shopping day of the year. Between 2009 and 2010, the amount of consumers visiting Black Friday websites prior to the big day increased by 17 per cent.
Unlike the 1960’s, now everyone can take advantage of Black Friday bargains thanks to the invention of the internet. Those who avoid the mall on Black Friday still have the option of online shopping, which is predicted to grow 15 per cent this year.
Although online shopping is crowd-free, it may not be frustration free. Slow websites can deter a shopper from completing his or her online purchase, which may lead to shopping cart abandonment. A recent survey found that 88% of consumers have abandoned a shopping cart before completing a purchase online. Ensuring your website is fast could bring down this percentage by creating a more positive customer experience.
In honour of the kick-off day to holiday shopping, we decided to benchmark the speed of 13 websites. These websites include both major retailers and Black Friday resources. The websites in the Black Friday benchmark include: Kohl’s, Best Buy, Amazon, The Black Friday.com, Groupon, Black Friday.com, Sears, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Black Friday.info, Target, Toys “R” Us, and Black Friday 2011.com.
Each site was assigned a score (aka Yottaa Score) which measures several aspects of web page load speed, as experienced by the website visitor. This score factors in how fast the site displays the page title, the time it takes for core content to appear and the time it takes for the page to be fully usable (“time to interact”.) This score ranges from 0 to 100. A higher score means a better page load user experience. Looking at the chart we can see that sites vary greatly in their web performance.
It seems that the major retailers have the most muscle in this list as they make up the top three spots. However, smaller sites that feed to the larger sites can also be fast—let’s compare.
In the case of the Black Friday benchmark—less is more. Black Friday 2011.com has information from a lot of different websites to help assist consumers find the best deal on Black Friday. However, with all of that information, it is difficult to navigate and the slow load time is frustrating. On the other hand, Best Buy’s website also has a lot of information, but it’s organised in a way that is easy to browse and find what you’re looking for—along with enticing offers on other items.
It would be wise for online retailers to check that their websites are loading at optimal speed so they can ensure their books still go from red to black on Black Friday 2012.