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Running a Site Speed Benchmark

Benchmarking site performance using your competition will give you a good idea where to start — and what numbers to beat.

A guide to benchmarking your website against competitor sites

A “benchmark” is a starting point you can use to know if your business efforts are working or not. You can also use benchmarks to set those business goals in the firstplace. For example, benchmarking website performance metrics using your competition will give you a good idea where to get started — and what numbers to beat.

Which Metrics Should You Track When Benchmarking Your eCommerce Website Speed?
Site speed benchmarking is a useful analytical tool you can use to assess the scale of your site's competitive advantage or disadvantage.

Why benchmark?

Let’s use site speed as an example. A fast-performing website provides a competitive advantage in many ways. Site speed benchmarking is a useful analytical tool youcan use to:

  • Assess the scale of your site’s advantage or disadvantage
  • Set reasonable expectations for your stakeholders
  • Gain context for interpreting results from tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights
  • Prioritize areas of the site for improvement

It is recommended to benchmark against two segments. The first is within your industry — with your direct competitors who are vying for your customers —in order to see what your customers are experiencing and expecting. The second is within your eCommerce platform, such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud or Shopify, in order to evaluate where your site’s performance falls within your platform’s expected performance levels.

How to benchmark website performance against competitors

Below are described as the best practices for benchmarking against competitor sites:

  • Identify competitor sites.  Review the list of top internet retailers and note 5-10 within your industry who likely share your target customer base. The competitor sites should have similar merchandisingneeds, product catalog sizes, and product variation complexity.
  • For each site you analyze, including your own, take note of specific URLs for themost common page types (typically Homepage, Category Page, and Product Pages).These are the page types you will be comparing across sites. Note if the URLs are different across Desktop and Mobile.
  • For benchmarking tools, it’s recommended to use which allowsfor real device testing. This allows you to specify and standardize thesettings for each test. Use the settings below; but you may need to adjust based on your target audience demographics:

ProTip: With, your test results are captured by the URL that is created when you begin the test. While the testis queued, you can copy/paste the URL into a separate document and then return to it later once the test has completed. This is especially helpful when you are behind 20 other IPhone X tests!

Another common benchmarking tool is Google’s PageSpeed Insights. It’s useful to run competitive benchmarks in order to gain context to interpret your site’s results.  Spoiler alert: the majority of eCommerce sites score very low on PageSpeed Insights, particularly on mobile:

Metrics To Benchmark

By comparing benchmark metrics, you can start setting goals for each metric for your own website - whether it is close the gap if you are behind, or maintain the gap if you are ahead. The following metrics reflect site performance:

Assessing eCommerce platform benchmarks

In addition to benchmarking your competitors, it’s highly recommended to check your site’s performance against other sites that utilize your current eCommerce platform. This provides another context for interpreting your site’s speed and setting goals. For example, Salesforce Commerce Cloud sites can run faster than Shopify sites.

While you are doing the competitor benchmarking, you can use a tool such as to see what eCommerce platform other sites are using. Alternatively, you can askyour eCommerce platform for other example customer sites.

How often to run a website performance benchmark

eCommerce sites are constantly changing and improving, and since one 3rd party can add500ms of page load time, it is critical to regularly monitor your site speed and benchmark. On a practical level, it’s recommended to benchmark quarterly ideally, and annual at minimum. This will ensure you are staying informed on industry shifts.