In 2006, a study by Akamai and Juniper Research coined the term, “4-second rule,” describing the maximum length of time internet users will willing to wait for a site to load before moving on. Six years later, with the prevalence of more sophisticated mobile devices and every kind of commerce (e/f/m/s/etc.) now available round-the-clock, that threshold can only have diminished. Instant gratification is the name of the web game, whether the want in question is a product or service, consumers of all ages and demographics are getting savvier and more discerning; brands’ sites that aren’t regularly updated or fully-functional are bad enough, but those that take more than a few finger taps to load are the kiss of consumer loyalty death. Not only will those dollars likely go to a competitor but to be known in the e-Commerce-sphere as a slowpoke irrevocably hurts brand reputation.
In L2’s most recent Digital IQ Index study on Brazil, Russia, and India, one of the most interesting findings related to this very subject–in particular, how many luxury brands’ sites failed the “4-second rule.” Of those included in the study, more than 40 brands’ global sites took more than 10 seconds to load in both Russia and India. Compared to the U.S., where the average load time for these same sites is 3.7 seconds, the average load time in Brazil was more than double that at 7.5 seconds. India and Russia were even slower at 9.9 seconds 10.5 seconds, respectively.
Those brands that invested in local URLs (e.g., cliniqe.ru) or international versions of their site (e.g., world.BottegaVeneta.com) saw significant returns: pages loaded almost 2 full seconds — or 17 percent — faster. Another approach brands take is to simplify site content and opt out of the heavy media elements like large, hi-res images and video that require additional bandwidth. For luxury brands, however, eliminating these elements poses a dilemma. From Dior fashion to Cartier jewelry to Four Seasons hotels and resorts, the prestige sector has become increasingly known for its innovative, glossy multimedia campaigns. To reduce the distribution of this content in certain markets might make sites faster to load but would also degrade prestige.
The e/m-commerce opportunities for luxury brands in these emerging markets cannot be overstated. Consumers in Brazil, Russia, and India are getting wealthier, more tech-savvy and leapfrogging straight to mobile. Some global brands like L’Occitane (ranked No. 1 in Brazil and Russia), Macy’s and Sephora get it, but most do not. Just like brands that didn’t break into China early regret that decision, so too — and soon — will brands in these markets.