Site speed is absolutely critical. Not only can a slow website affect your SEO negatively, but it can also stop people buying from you.
But just how fast are they?
Here's the overall list.
|Retailer||Homepage URL||Avg. Page Speed of 7 URLs Tested|
|House of Fraser||https://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/||68.86|
|Currys PC World||https://www.currys.co.uk/||39.43|
|Pets at Home||https://www.petsathome.com/||25.86|
|JD Sports||Consistent 403 error on test - omitted.||-|
WH Smith was head and shoulders above the competition in our tests, performing consistently across its homepage and the category and product URLs we tested. Just WH Smith and Waitrose scored above 80 in our tests.
9 of the sites we tested scores below 40%. But, by some way, Pets at Home performed consistently poorest scoring an average of just 25.86% on the GTMetrix page speed test.
GTMetrix (and other tools we tried) were unable to run on the JDSports website.
So are the UK's retail websites fast?
On the whole, there's lots of space for improvement amongst most of the top retail sites we looked at. We also tested on desktop browsers on a fast connection, meaning we really were rather generous.
Big brands like these often have the benefit of being known and trusted, which goes a long way to converting visitors to sales. Thousands of people actively search for these specific websites in Google each month. But could page speed be negatively affecting their sales? We think so for the worst performers. Customers expect fast, slick and easy experiences. We've all experienced the pain of grappling with a website that won't do what we want it to do fast enough, so it's likely, we think, that some of the worst performers here could be dropping online sales as the result of poor speed performance.
There's no single perfect way to measure page speed. So here's what we did to get a reasonably accurate picture:
You can access the data here.
Want to test your own? Head on over to gtmetrix.com and set up a free account. You can run tests without an account but if you want to adapt your settings to simulate the results of users in the UK (rather than the default setting of Vancouver) then you'll need to sign up.
You'll then be able to switch settings as so:
The important thing to remember here to test multiple types of page. Just testing your homepage doesn't give you anywhere near a complete picture. Test a few category URLs and some product pages too.
You'll get a report that looks something like this:
Or if things aren't going so well, maybe it looks more like some of the retail websites we tested:
There's advice on GTmetrix about the specific areas of improvement. Many of these should be handled by a good platform but there's loads of advice here if that's not the case.