If you've ever shopped at a high-end luxury retailer, you've likely experienced something not typically found in your run-of-the-mill shops. The carpets are plush, the sales staff attentive, and you might even have been offered a glass of wine while you browse. Now what if you visit that same luxury retailer online? Does the royal treatment you receive in person carry over into the online world?
If you're talking about obtaining an elite, boutique-oriented experience, the answer is likely yes. The websites of luxury retailers have sleek designs and are chock full of rich, interactive content such as videos, runway walks, and maybe soon, virtual fitting rooms. But as we know, dynamic content can have a direct impact on website performance.
Last quarter, at the request of Luxury Daily editor Mickey Alam Khan, we began monitoring the website performance, in particular the speed and availability, of some of the most elite brands in retail and automobiles. The results were a little bit surprising.
As Luxury Daily reported yesterday its article, Louis Vuitton, Rolls-Royce win big with site performance: expert,' most of the luxury retailers delivered an optimal user experience to their customers.
When it comes to speed, Prada topped the chart in the retail category, with a home page response time of a mere 0.98 seconds. Rolls-Royce was the quickest in the automobile category at 1.66 seconds. And the averages weren't bad either -- 3.34 seconds for the websites of luxury retailers, and 5.64 seconds for the websites of luxury automobile companies.
The websites of two automobile brands, however -- Mercedes-Benz and Audi -- took more than 16 seconds to load. Allowing response times to climb this high could be a conscious decision on the part of the retailer, which might place higher importance on delivering lots of feature-rich content. I'd recommend optimizing home page speed as much as possible to provide that fast and feel good user experience at the front door.
Overall, website availability for these luxury retailers was strong as well. In the automobile category, Lamborghini reigned, with 99.94 percent availability. In retail, Prada came out on top again, with 99.99 percent availability.
Back to my original question: Does the royal treatment you receive in person carry over into the online world? Based on this quarter's data, I can say that for the most part, the answer is yes. We almost always see a few anomalies, but the majority of the luxury retailers we monitored in this exercise have found a way to deliver rich media and high performance on their websites. Their sites are as responsive as their sales people are on location.
AlertSite began monitoring the homepages of these luxury websites on Feb. 2, 2011. Measurements were taken every five minutes from 12 locations across the U.S.