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Four seconds is the maximum length of time the average online shopper will wait for a web page to load before potentially abandoning a retail site.

In the research by Akamai, poor site performance ranked second only to high product prices and shipping costs as leading factors for dissatisfaction among online shoppers.

The consequences for retailers with an underperforming site include negative brand perception as well as lost sales.

Previous research has suggested that consumers will punish an online retailers’ high street counterpart if they have a frustrating online experience, so it could be argued that this rule is even more important for multichannel retailers.

Findings of the research included:

• Around 50% of ‘mature’ online shoppers (those who have shopped online for two years or more, and those who spend more than $1,500 annually) said loading time was a crucial factor in their choice of site.

• 46% of shoppers demand a fast checkout service, 55% of high spenders demand the same.

• 65% of online shoppers are more likely to return to a site that is easy to navigate and performs well for registration and the checkout process.

Almost half of sites on the Internet Retailer Top 500 list still experience site response times of over four seconds.

Remember when this used to be the 'eight second rule'? We've previously suggested that this "might now be closer to four seconds" due to faster internet connections and lower tolerance levels among internet users.

Graham Charlton

Published 13 November, 2006 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (3)

Jon Bovard

Jon Bovard, Director of eCommerce at A well known Telco

this article is published by akamai so take it with a grain of salt.

For starters is 4 seconds the same for all sites?
What about if you are UK based on an Australian site? Is it still 4 seconds
What about if you are repeat visitor/customer? Is it still 4 seconds
What about high value or specialty sites? Is it still 4 seconds?

Im not saying this piece of info published by Akamai is wrong.. but i am saying that publishing a single number is spurious and somewhat futile without qualifying the purpose of the information and assumptions..


almost 10 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hi Jon,

I think all rules are pretty much there to be broken... you're right of course, there is no single rule, and everybody's expectations are different.

I guess it also depends on what sort of website / experience you are offering, and maybe also by sector?

All I know is that speed matters. Remember that 40 second loading time for boo.com? ; )


almost 10 years ago


Umar Khan

I think it will be halved again after sometime, becuase I believe people now expect a webpage to be visible in 2 seconds

over 5 years ago

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