This week, we spoke with L2 data partner and online performance and monitoring firm Dynatrace. The familiar problem Dynatrace is trying to solve: A company decides to do e-commerce in China, and develops localized content and asset rich with plugins and personalized features. After testing concludes that none of these features are leading to conversion, the company decides that e-commerce investments don’t pay off in China. Ben Rushlo at Dynatrace, believes there is a way to deliver a better experience in China despite the “Great Firewall”, which blocks sites and slows load times.
L2 research finds that global luxury brands are especially challenged in this area. In the luxury fashion & jewelry category, for example, just 60% of the 99 mobile sites studied, managed to load in less than 60 seconds.
That statistic is slightly better for beauty brands. Seventy-three percent successfully load in less than a minute and the average load time is 13.4 seconds.
Using his 18 years of web performance experience and a more recent focus on China, Rushlo offers three main lessons that are helpful for brands – luxury and non-luxury:
It’s not the wrong country, but the wrong tactics. It’s a myth that bad user experience is the norm in China, and a myth that companies like Dynatrace must dispel in order to encourage companies to expand their China efforts. Rushlo says most often companies employ tactics that are harmful to the user experience because they are unfamiliar with the internet landscape in China. For example, many brands insist on cramming all desktop features into a mobile site, which slows it down. Furthermore, because of firewalls, plugins lead to ineffective sites.
China requires a completely different third-party strategy. Companies who are new to China often do not understand how content is blocked or slowed outside of the mainland. Google, Facebook and Twitter are all blocked in China, and although brands will frequently remove their presence from the font end of their Chinese sites, many forget to remove the plugins from the backend. The use of third party plug-ins for advertising, analytics and personalization have become increasingly popular. However common plugins like DoubleClick (Google), Adobe Personalization are blocked in China. Plugins often lead to lags in conversions and complaints about the site experience. A single poorly placed tag can block an entire site. Rushlo says the best practice is to ensure that any third party site element is hosted in China or remove it.
Choose the right CDN. In an effort to scale the “Great Firewall”, many brands turn to content delivery networks (CDNs). However, brands must confirm that their CDN partner has approved to serve content in China as often they are serving off the mainland. Rushlo advises for optimal performance that brands should serve everything they can from a cache in China.