What are the lessons for UK retail from our post-peak web performance webinar?

How did UK retailers perform during the peak periods towards the end of 2016, such as Black Friday?

In our recent post-peak shakedown webinar, web performance experts Andy Davies and Simon Hearne revealed a mixed picture.

They began with some positive observations. There were, for example, very few serious outages or big traffic-related slowdowns. This was partly down to meticulous planning and testing that began up to a year in advance and partly because there was less focus on a single day in 2016. In contrast to previous Black Fridays, promotions typically ran for a week or even longer.

Many retailers also made an effort to optimise for Black Friday, with a majority of home pages getting smaller on the day.

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Most also delivered smaller pages on mobile than they did on desktop, although there was still a substantial minority that failed to optimise for mobile:

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Not all performance issues were under retailers’ direct control, and there were some third-party problems. Some would have impacted the user experience, while slow responses from others would have resulted in the loss of crucial analytics data.

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Perhaps the key point to take away was the importance of understanding the relationship between web performance and business KPIs such as conversion. We’ve been using real user monitoring to help retailers do just that, and Simon showed us how the following retailer could make an extra £57,000 a month if it improved average page load time by 1.5 seconds.

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Andy and Simon finished with some tactical tips for 2017:

… as well as some more strategic advice:

  • Build performance into everyday processes.
  • Socialise performance data.
  • Adopt a mobile-first mindset.

If you didn’t get a chance to see the webinar live, you can catch up here (the variable sound quality towards the beginning quickly improves, so it’s worth persevering!).

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