Increased downtime and slower download speeds over busy Christmas period sees the year end on a sour note for the top 50 UK online retailers
The UK’s top 50 e-commerce websites struggled to maintain good website performance over the busy Christmas period, finishing 2013 on a low, according to new findings from NCC Group.
The global information assurance firm analyses the average download speed and downtime of the 50 busiest online shopping websites for a quarterly online retail report.
Both speed and website outages significantly deteriorated during the fourth quarter (Q4), continuing 2013’s trend of poor performance, leading NCC to conclude that retailers failed to take advantage of the online Christmas shopping rush
Prioritise web performance
Bob Dowson, director of NCC Group’s website performance division, said: “The shift to online shows no signs of stopping, so there’s a massive opportunity for those in the e-commerce sector. But if e-retailers are to take advantage of this, they simply must prioritise website performance.
"This year saw record online sales growth of almost 20% over the festive season. The relatively poor performance of the top e‑retailers’ sites suggests that much of that growth is going either to a few top performers in that group or to competitors outside of the top 50.”
No signs of improvement
Average downtime of the UK top 50 e-commerce websites was six hours and three minutes in Q4, the highest of 2013. In comparison, Q3 recorded four hours and 32 minutes; Q2, four hours and 17 minutes; and Q1, three hours and 23 minutes.
Average download speed did not fare any better, coming in at 7.3 seconds, the slowest of the year (on a 2Mbps connection), where it was 6.6s in Q3; 6.7s in Q2; and 6.2s in Q1. These speeds also fell well below the 3 second target that retailers trading online should aim for.
Dowson concluded: “Customers won’t think twice before abandoning their basket and going elsewhere if a website is down or takes too long to load. E-retailers should invest more in their most valuable asset because better website performance increases customer loyalty and, most importantly, boosts sales.”
Other recent reports
by application performance monitoring company, Compuware, and websites performance specialists, Intechnica, also highlighted a growing gap between web and mobile site or app performance and the slowing affect of third-party tag use respectively.