A report said a staggering 92 percent of the top shops in the UK didn’t take advantage of so-called “Cyber Monday”.
“Cyber Monday” is a spinner’s term for last Monday, which was expected to be the peak time when people ordered kit over the internet.
But, according to the NCC Group, it all went terribly wrong, mostly because of slow download speeds.
It said it monitored the top retail websites last Monday and didn’t reach an average download speed of three seconds or less.
Why? According to Bow Dowson, director of NCC Group’s website performance group, for some weight of traffic was probably a problem. One site it monitored on the day was 50 percent slower than the average download speed over the previous three months.
He said: “You could argue that the availability of good load testing solutions makes traffic-induced performance problems unforgivable these days. However, a number of companies performed badly this year, and that might be down to the extra hype we’ve seen around Cyber Monday meaning an even greater surge in visitors.
“What’s more, a lot of retailers have been advertising Cyber Monday discounts. A closer look at some of the special promotion pages from Friday to Monday also revealed that prospective customers would have been experiencing even longer load times or timeouts at certain times of day.
“It’s also important to remember that poor performance can be caused by third-party plugins and widgets. These are also under greater strain at this time of year, and it’s difficult to factor in the effect of elements over which you have no direct control.”
The NCC Group did not name names.
Online retailers are on a roll, but many of their sites aren’t performing well due to some rather basic technical limitations.
According to a recent report from NCC Group, the top 50 online retail sites in Britain exhibited poor website performance last quarter and much of the problems were caused by ancient internet connections.
The end result was that fancy sites with plenty of flash content offered a less than stellar shopping experience, as they were simply too slow. NCC Group tested the sites and found that the average download speed was 6.7 seconds on a 2Mbps connection. The average speed in Q1 was 6.27 seconds, but research has shown that load times over 3 seconds tend to drive customers away.
It seems that online retailers are sparing no expense when they develop their sites, so they end up with elaborate and relatively “heavy” websites that take too long to load. Average internet connection speeds aren’t keeping up with the trend.
Worse, the top 50 retail sites averaged a downtime of 4 hours and 17 minutes, which is also up from last quarter’s 3 hours and 23 minutes. It seems that feature packed sites are not only slow, they tend to be less reliable as well.
“It’s a worrying trajectory and one that retailers need to address quickly. If a website is slow to load, consumers will simply go elsewhere, while any downtime will lead to a direct loss of sales,” Bob Dowson, director of NCC Group’s website performance division said. “The potential within the online retail space is massive. In 2012 the value of online retail to the UK was ￡78bn*, and that’s only going to grow. Retailers that prioritise their website performance will put themselves in a great position to fulfil their potential in the market.”
The financial performance of the UK e-tail market has been largely positive in Q2 2013, with shoppers spending 18.3 percent more in June compared to 2012. However, this report indicates that it could have been a more successful quarter if retailers had prioritised consumer experience through web performance.