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Online shopping sites must improve performance to meet consumer expectations

05 May 2017 - 11:22 by Simon Crisp

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A pair of studies published in the past seven days have revealed that too many e-commerce sites are bogged down by sluggish payload speeds and unplanned outages, according to Internet Retailing.

Analysts at Cogeco Peer 1 found that 40 per cent of UK sites which offer shopping online fell victim to downtime at peak periods last year, leaving customers unable to complete transactions.

Fifty eight per cent of the retailers questioned in the study admitted that even when their sites had remained live when being put under heavy strain by high visitor numbers, the user experience had suffered because the speed at which pages were able to load took a hit.

Meanwhile, 48 per cent said that they were still unprepared for the peaks and troughs which come as part of the annual retail cycle. So when consumers head to the web to carry out safe shopping online in their millions during Black Friday and other key dates, many sites will be unable to meet their needs.

The second study, this time from the NCC Group, identifies a worrying trend which shows that websites operating in the UK are actually becoming slower to load over time. Using a baseline 2Mbps connection, average page load speeds for e-commerce sites in the first three months of 2017 was recorded at just over 17 seconds.

This is almost a second slower than in the previous quarter, with researchers blaming the increase in the average size of pages on this state of affairs.

As retailers add more content, information and features to their pages, the ability that users have to access this quickly is decreased. This suggests that companies should take a more minimalistic approach if they want to keep customers happy in 2017.