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Jim Agger
 
February 14, 2014 | eCommerce | Jim Agger

Winery websites impact online sales, how does yours compare?

Winery websites make a huge difference when it comes to the overall e-commerce customer experience. Selling products online has gradually evolved, and consumers have become more accepting of Internet purchases as availability has increased. You may think the performance of your online wine store could only improve over time. However, instead of growing more efficient, e-commerce sites may be getting bogged down.

A recent study from Radware, a provider of application delivery and security solutions, found the top 500 retail websites have a higher number of indexed pages and slower load times. As consumer expectations rapidly change, this won't do much to impress them. The report, titled "State of the Union," found the median home page load time is 9.3 seconds, a 21 percent increase in the past year. Last year, the median load time was 8.2 seconds, and currently 50 percent take 10 seconds or more. Other research has indicated that consumers only have about 10 seconds worth of patience for site loading, so this is pretty close to the limit. 

While e-commerce sites now contain more resources than last year, bigger isn't necessarily better. The increased size significantly impacts loading speeds, and it may take longer for the interactive elements of the page to become usable. 

"As 2013 had its share of website outages from Amazon to Healthcare.gov, we also see that site slowdowns can also cause a negative impact on brand perceptions," said Tammy Everts, Web performance evangelist at Radware. "Slowdowns occur 10 times more frequently than outages, and over time, slowdowns have double the negative financial impact as outages. This also has a major long-term impact on customer retention, as the permanent abandonment rate for a slow site is up to three times greater than the abandonment rate for a site that is down."

E-commerce websites need to be leaner
Web performance and usability are absolutely critical for you to maximize the potential of your online wine sales. Your website has a direct effect on your bottom line, Business 2 Community said, citing additional research from Load Impact. Despite this, e-commerce sites are some of the worst performers on the Web. Not only are most pages slow to load, they also have difficulty handling high volumes of traffic. 

The following tips may help you boost website performance standards:

  • Conduct testing: Some retailers only perform this activity immediately before a site goes live, but this can result in stability gaps over time. Any time anything is changed on your website, you should check it to make sure loading times haven't significantly slowed. This can allow you to catch performance issues before they escalate.
  • Remove unnecessary features: While you may want to offer a bunch of different widgets on your page, it may be a better idea to keep it to what is absolutely necessary for shoppers to have the best possible experience. This can significantly improve performance and streamline the experience for users. In addition, you may want to compress large photos to speed up load times slightly. This may have an impact on mobile experience, a growing concern for many e-commerce retailers.

If you sell wine online, your website is the most important tool in your arsenal. Consumers are setting the bar high for what they will accept from online shopping experiences, and you could be losing business if you aren't meeting these heightened expectations. Testing and reducing extra elements on your pages can cut down the number of resources can improve loading speeds and boost website usability. This will be essential for long-term customer retention. 

Comments

Sandra Hess's Gravatar
 
Sandra Hess
@ Feb 18, 2014 at 9:31 AM
Thanks Jim! Nice to hear latest load time statistics and appreciate the tips you provided. As mobile shopping continues to increase, efficient load times and clean site navigation are becoming necessary elements to remain competitive. Re-testing load times on a regular basis is a great tip :-)

Larry Chandler's Gravatar
 
Larry Chandler
@ Feb 18, 2014 at 9:55 AM
Slow loading images is one major problem I see especially in winery websites. It's nice to see pictures of vineyards, but really, does each one need to be 2-3 megabytes? It's easy to make them smaller without loss of resolution.

Theresa Dorr's Gravatar
 
Theresa Dorr
@ Mar 4, 2014 at 9:24 AM
I agree and like your comments on "testing and unnecessary features".

All to often when I work with wineries I find that their online sales are zero. When I investigate I actually find that their site and/or cart is not working. Many people have no idea how long it was disabled.

Checking you own website and purchase process is like unlocking your tasting room door. Checking to make sure the doors are open and that you welcome your prospective clients is extremely important in both situations.

Nice article Jim! Thank you.

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