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Slow page load times compromise international e-commerce efforts

11 October 2016 - 09:43 by Graham Miller

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Plenty of retailers that offer shopping online in the UK are also considering international expansion, targeting customers across Europe, North America and the rest of the world. But a new report suggests that in spite of rapid e-commerce growth in China, the majority of sites are not living up to expectations when it comes to page load speeds in this highly populous and lucrative market.

The study from CDNetworks found that over four in five European shopping sites take more than 4.8 seconds to load; this being the maximum amount of time that most Chinese consumers will deem acceptable, according to Internet Retailing.

In reality it takes a little over 33 seconds for a typical EU-based e-commerce site to load on a Chinese connection. And while the geographic separation of the servers on which the sites are hosted from the location of the end users is clearly a factor, this is not the principal underlying problem.

Analysts revealed that the Golden Shield, operated by the Chinese government to secure internet connectivity and block content, is the main culprit. In some instances it not only brings page load speeds to a crawl, but actually blocks international sites offering safe shopping online altogether.

This problem is exacerbated because Chinese consumers do not give western outlets the benefit of the doubt, with the majority believing that slow performance is an indicator that a site is less secure than its domestic counterparts.

Report spokesperson Alex Nam said that European retailers should take this into account when targeting the Chinese market, arguing that it was important to redouble efforts to optimise sites for access in China so that the enormous potential there can be exploited, rather than seeing their brands compromised by persistently slow load times.