Chrome UX Report

Amazon’s Whole Foods Wins Food & Beverage eCommerce Market Share

Amazon’s Whole Foods creates website speed benchmark standards for the eCommerce Food & Beverage industry, with headless eCommerce and SPA technology.

eCommerce is the future of retail and mobile commerce is the future of eCommerce. The market leaders investing in website speed are seeing higher SEO, traffic, conversions, and revenue than their competitors. In an effort to shave seconds off page loads, we’re seeing industry leaders adopt headless architectures and replace their traditional websites with modern frontends built for speed, the likes of Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and Single Page Applications (SPA).

The average eCommerce website takes 3-5 seconds to load on mobile, but PWAs and SPAs with server-side rendering and AMP support are bringing page loads down to 2 seconds. However if you’re a dynamic enterprise eCommerce website, breaking the one-second barrier requires more than just frontend optimization. To get to instant you need to optimize speed across the stack—the client, server, and edge. With the right architecture and approach to speed optimization, enterprise eCommerce companies can see substantial SEO and revenue lifts in the 15-30% range. For example, the flowers giant 1-800-Flowers boosted conversions by 50% and Annie Selke, a mid-sized retailer, is outranking Amazon, Wayfair and other billion dollar corporations, due to their instant websites.

In an attempt to spread the word in the industry, we analyzed Google’s Chrome User Experience (CrUX) data to pinpoint those in the industry delivering sub-second websites. We found the fastest and slowest Food & Beverage eCommerce websites, based on their share of sub-second pages. Along with showcasing the top 20 Food & Beverage websites, we highlight any website stack optimization efforts a retailer has in place to combat a slow user experience. We also provide you the name brand names you know, but deliver sub-par mobile experiences. Read on for our findings.

Fast food with the right tech

Food & Beverage is the largest retail category in the US, but it has yet to fully embrace eCommerce due to the perishable nature of food and beverages. However, recent trends show a growing market as online grocery revenue doubled from $12B in 2016 to $26B in 2018, and are projected to exceed $51.4B this year, on its way to nearly $117B by 2023.

Online grocery and food services have become more widely accepted and supported, from retailers with the right eCommerce strategy and technology in place. For example, Amazon and Walmart brought in the most eCommerce revenue in 2019 within the Food & Beverage segment. Both eCommerce powerhouses have one thing in common: fast shopping and delivery experiences. Both offer same-day grocery delivery service through their headless eCommerce websites. From landing through checkout and delivery, speed is prioritized.

Food & Beverage eCommerce website benchmarks

Based on Google’s real-user CrUX data, only 3.5% of domains visited by US mobile shoppers were recorded to be Food & Beverage eCommerce websites, proving the segment is still in its early stages within eCommerce. The fastest Food & Beverage website, CVS, sees 67.8% of its pages loading in under a second. The slowest, Grassland Beef loads a measly 0.3% of its pages in sub-seconds. Overall, the average share of sub-second pages for Food & Beverage eCommerce websites stands at 19.7%, with a median of 16.5%.

We’ve written on the Apparel and Travel segments, and both see over 35% faster websites, on average, than the Food & Beverage segment. This indicates a less competitive vertical and more opportunity to rank ahead of your competitor, from website speed alone.

Without further ado, here are the 20 fastest Food & Beverage eCommerce websites...

Top 20 Food & Beverage eCommerce websites

Website % of sub-second pages 67.8% 60.1% 50.4% 48.8% 46.0% 43.5 43.3% 41.3% 39.7% 38.7% 38.6% 36.9% 36.5% 35.2% 35.0% 34.3% 34.1 33.9% 33.4% 32.3%

The average share of sub-second pages held by the 20 fastest Food & Beverage eCommerce websites is 41.5%, double the average of the entire segment. The top 20 websites consist of mass retailers; coffee & tea websites; fitness, candy and spice companies; and fresh food delivery services.

Four out of the 20 fastest eCommerce websites in the segment have invested in website speed. CVS, Whole Foods Market, and NatureBox all deliver modern SPA frontends, and Amazon has gone headless.

CVS delivers the fastest website in the segment, with 67.8% of its pages loading at sub-second speeds—nearly 3.5x the segment’s average. CVS has the right tools in place to deliver these speeds. They deliver a React SPA, that utilizes Node.js, to their 50M monthly visitors on mobile and desktop.

Whole Foods Market grosses $15.7B in annual revenue and is one of the largest natural-foods supermarket chains in the US. The retailer’s website delivers 46% of its pages at sub-second speeds through a React SPA. Based on Google’s PageSpeed Insights (PSI), Whole Foods Market has a Lighthouse Performance Score of 60, more than double the average of the leading 100 eCommerce websites.

NatureBox is a healthy snacks subscription service that prioritizes tech innovation in order to provide the best customer experience possible. Consumers browse through a React SPA that utilizes Node.js for lightning speeds. With a website delivering 43.5% of its pages in sub-seconds, and a delivery service that is fast and right at your door-step, NatureBox is winning the hearts of the youngest generations that crave convenience.

Other known names to note with fast websites are Local Harvest, loading 43.3% of its pages in sub-seconds, and See’s Candies, loading 36.9% of its pages in less than a second. These websites are at least 90% faster than the overall average for Food & Beverage websites.

Bottom 20 Food & Beverage eCommerce websites

With every eCommerce benchmark installment, it becomes more evident that the known brands are investing more in brand awareness, reputation, and retention than website technology. However, the future of commerce is online. Investing in the right tech to provide superior online experiences must be prioritized if you wish to remain competitive.

Here are the 20 Food & Beverage eCommerce retailers with the lowest share of pages that load in less than a second...

Website % of sub-second pages 1.1% 2.6% 4.9% 5.0% 5.1% 6.0 7.5% 7.6% 7.9% 7.9% 8.0% 8.7% 9.5% 9.9% 10.2% 10.5% 12.7 12.7% 13.9% 14.4%

Despite the obvious need for speed in the meal delivery service, these websites consistently deliver the slowest speeds. 9 out of the list of 20 under-performing websites are meal delivery services, and not one of them delivers even 10% of its pages in under 1-second. Sun Basket, ButcherBox, Nutrisystem, and Daily Harvest deliver between 5.1% and 9.4% of their pages sub-second. Blue Apron and Plated are even worse, with only 5% of their pages loading in under a second.

Coffee retailers makeup 5 out of 20 of the slowest websites. Illy, Keurig, and Blue Bottle Coffee see 9-11% of their pages loading in sub-seconds. Black Rifle Coffee and Peet’s Coffee aren’t much better, loading 12-14% of pages in sub-seconds.

Other big names with slow sites include Clif Bar, Rite Aid, and Ghirardelli, who deliver 6%, 12.7%, and 14.4, respectively. While Ghirardelli is the fastest name in the bottom 20, it’s not even delivering half of what the top 20 delivers.  

Bottom line

The biggest brand names out there are overlooking one of the best investments a company can make today: delivering instant loading websites. Considering the rising trend of online sales, particularly in the food industry, it is more important now than ever to provide your consumers with the experience they expect, or they’ll purchase from your faster-loading competitor.

While we highlighted the Food & Beverage retailers utilizing modern frontends for speedy browsing, this optimization alone is not enough. For example, when testing the speeds of Naturebox and CVS using Google’s PSI, the retailers receive low Performance Scores of 2 and 25, respectively. In comparison, Venus Fashion and 1-800-Flowers rank in the 90+ percentiles for website performance with lighthouse scores that surpass 75.  

Website speed is a full-stack problem. To achieve lightning fast speed from landing through checkout, you need a PWA using server-side rendering and AMP support along with an intelligent CDN to drive high rates of dynamic content stored at the edge (the typical eCommerce companies see less than 20% cache hit ratio for dynamic content at the edge, while Layer0 customers see 95%+).

Unfortunately, this requires the correct combination of multiple coding languages and cutting-edge tech, which most dev teams simply do not have the capacity for. For example, even the hospitality unicorn Airbnb—with its vast teams of developers and dev-ops professionals dedicated to improving the online experience and performance—cannot break the 1-second barrier.  

Layer0 consistently delivers instant eCommerce websites by caching dynamic data at the edge and streaming it into the browsers so it is ready for the shopper, before they even tap. Layer0 delivers median pages loads of 320ms (FCP), regardless of how complex a site or mobile network quality is. Customers see 32% lift in organic traffic and a 15-30% increase in conversions, on average.

To learn how Layer0 can get your site instant in half the time it would take you to optimize your current experience, while increasing developer velocity and bottom-line growth, schedule a consultative conversation with a site speed expert.

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