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Milliseconds make millions: report finds faster site speed increases revenue for brands

By The Drum Network, Staff Writer

May 21, 2020 | 4 min read

A new research report, Milliseconds make Millions, reveals the dramatic impact of mobile site speeds on consumers’ willingness to spend money and engage with brands online. The comprehensive report, commissioned by Google from global data company Fifty-five and Deloitte Digital is based on 30 million user sessions on mobile websites for a range of brands across a number of sectors.

Surprisingly, a comprehensive study like this has not been published before, due to the challenges of producing a sufficient quantity of comparable data across several brands to generate statistically robust findings.

Fifty-five and Deloitte Digital were brought together by Google to recruit a representative collection of brands and provide t‘he methodology to measure the commercial impact of speed on every stage of the customer journey. Over a four-week period, Fifty-five analysed mobile site data from 37 brands across the retail, travel and luxury sectors in Europe.

Results showed that a mere 0.1s change in load time can influence every step of the user journey, ultimately increasing conversion rates. Key sector findings follow:


With a 0.1s improvement in site speed across four specific site speed metrics we observed that retail consumers spent 9.2% more, a dramatic uplift. In particular speed on product pages is vital, there is an increase of 3.2% from Product Listing Page to Product Detail Page, and a 9.1% increase when progressing to Add to Basket. These findings are based on 20.5m user sessions across 15 retail brands.


Out of all verticals studied, the data shows that luxury consumers are the most sensitive to speed improvements. Although design and brand values are key to luxury sites, the flows to key pages like “contact us” are greatly increased (a massive 20.6%) when the key site speed metrics were improved by 0.1 seconds, and there was a highly significant 40.1% increase in users moving from product detail to add to basket and longer sessions also recorded through the entire browsing journey. For luxury retailers, use of the ‘contact us‘ and ‘book an appointment‘ functionality of their sites are proxies for buying intent, as opposed to actual e-commerce transitions on high-street retail and travel sites. These findings are based on 2.1m user sessions across 10 luxury brands.


When we looked at the actual journey a customer takes through the travel conversion funnel progression, uplift can be seen incrementally culminating in a 2.2% increase in check-out completion. A 2% increase was identified at the add-on stage where travellers are configuring their trips, eg adding speedy boarding, selecting plane seats or purchasing car hire. So we would suggest that site speed has its greatest impact in the customisation and ancillary purchases steps of the funnel, after the visitors have chosen their base options, and so travel brands may need to prioritise the optimisation of this section of their user journey. These findings are based on 7.4m user sessions across six brands.

The results underline that the rise of customer expectations and increasing use of smartphones are amplifying the need for mobile speed. The competitive gap will widen between brands who provide great mobile experience and those who don’t.


The report goes on to make specific recommendations for brands to stay ahead with an identified need to make site speed a priority across the organisation. This includes adopting a mobile-first mind-set; introducing the right processes and allocating resources to constantly monitor and optimise speed and introducing speed as the one of the primary performance indicators. The study findings are intended to provide new evidence that speed does matter and help brands to prioritise it.

Richard Wheaton, managing director, Fifty-five London comments: “As the most comprehensive site speed research report ever completed, this is a wake up call to brands to adopt a mobile-first mentality. The benchmarks we’ve created in this report will help brands move beyond being inwardly focused, and identify wider measures of performance that may be putting themselves ahead or behind their competitors. Brands really need to re-think their digital processes and KPIs in this mobile-first world, to ensure that site design and technical enhancements are generating the positive ROI, and not actually unintentionally harming sales by driving customers away.”

If you want to know more about the report, register to join Google, Fifty-five and Deloitte Digital for a livestream on Tuesday 25 May at 2pm BST followed by a Q&A.


Content created with:

Fifty-five London

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