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.