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57% of mobile customers will abandon an app or site if they have to wait 3 seconds for a page to load

By  Lewis Mills, Business Analyst at Judo Payments

You’re thinking of closing this tab already. I didn’t give you a juicy stat in my opening sentence. I haven’t given you anything useful yet and we’re already 28 words in. Who has time for this nonsense? You’ve lost interest. You’re gone.

THE SPINNY WHEEL EFFECT IS COSTING MOBILE COMMERCE BIG BUCKS 1Still here? You’re one of the few: 57% of mobile customers will abandon your app or site if they have to wait 3 seconds for a page to load. 74% will abandon after five seconds. Every 100ms increase in load time decreases sales by 1%. As far as your conversion rate goes, this really is the spinny wheel of death:

It’s no coincidence that the motion of this loading wheel resembles a clock. It is counting down the lifespan of your user’s interest. Will it be fulfilled before the time runs out? Or will it be just another abandoned transaction?

Aberdeen Group report that a ‘1 second delay in page load time equals 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction and 7% loss in conversions.’ In monetary terms, this means if your app typically earns £10,000 a day, a 1 second delay could lose you £250k in sales this year.

Whether you truly appreciate the value of your customer’s time or if you just see your target market as a bunch of self-entitled, impatient cry-babies who can’t even wait 1 goddam second – I won’t tell anyone if it’s the latter – there’s no denying the situation: Never has the consumer been more powerful and no medium is better positioned to meet their demands than mobile.


It’s all very well to talk of ‘mobile’ as though all you need to do is cram your website into an app wrapper then sit back and wait for sales to sky-rocket. Getting it right for mobile isn’t simple, but the guiding ethos is: It’s all about the customer journey. And whilst not everything comes down to how long that journey takes, speed is an absolute fundamental for any successful mobile strategy.

You walk into a restaurant. You’ve heard good things about it. You like the décor. You like the layout. You like the look of the menu, and the drinks menu even more. You take a seat and you wait. And you wait. You can’t catch anyone’s eye. All you want to do is place your order. Nope. They’re ignoring you. 5 minutes pass. This is getting silly now. 10 minutes. Still nothing. You walk out.

Your mobile solution is a hyper-real version of this environment. 10 seconds feels like 10 minutes. The waiters and waitresses aren’t just ignoring you, they’re spinning around on the spot with no sign of stopping anytime soon. The impatience you felt in the restaurant is magnified in this world, where 64% of smartphone users want a site to load within four seconds, 82% within five seconds, but where the average among UK retailers is 7.54 seconds. It is this ‘expectation gap’ where so many customer journeys fall down and are abandoned.

Department-store giants Sears recently jumped from No. 11 to No. 1 on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index. How did they do it? Their homepage loads in 1.74 seconds 99.74% of the time. This was achieved by a conscientious redesign whereby ‘the average bytes downloaded on the home page went from more than 100 kilobytes to just under 13 kilobytes. This was accomplished by using a minimal home page design with just five objects loading.’

Whatever choices you make about your enterprise, they must all prompt the question: ‘But how long will it take for a customer to do that?’

Your mobile user is on a small screen with an unstable data connection. They are on the move. They want it right now or not at all. (3% of those surveyed by Kissmetrics said they would wait ‘less than one second for a page to load before abandonment.’) Don’t let all your hard work with designing and marketing your mobile solution go to waste by making your consumer sit and stare at that spinny wheel. Who has time for that nonsense? I’ve lost interest. I’m gone.