Research by website monitoring and load testing firm, Site Confidence, an NCC Group company, has revealed that the performance of the UK's top e-tailers is in decline. The Site Confidence Quarterly Online Retail Report found that the UK's top 50 online retailers had an average of 3 hours 41 minutes of downtime in the second quarter of 2011, a 35% increase on the first quarter of the year.
The Site Confidence report analysed website performance from leading online retailers from 1st April to 30th June. It also analysed average download speeds for the UK's top e-tailer websites and found an increase from 12 seconds in the first quarter of the year to 12.5 seconds in quarter two. This is a marked increase from e-tailers' 6 second target and also from the 10 second average download speed recorded over the 2010 festive period.
Bob Dowson, director at Site Confidence, part of NCC Group, said: "At a time when high street shops are closing and retailers are shifting the balance of operations to the internet due to its lower overheads, it is imperative that existing e-tailers pay close attention to website performance in order to maximise on this opportunity.
"The increasing competition online also makes a smooth and straightforward user journey increasingly important to keep customers from going elsewhere. It is therefore very worrying to see the performance of the UK's top retailers in decline.
"With download speeds more than double the retail target and the worst offending sites suffering almost 3 days of downtime, this could be equating to significant lost revenue for businesses that, in the current economy, need to make every penny count.
"Load testing and performance monitoring should not just be carried out for the festive period or peaks of activity. For any business whose website plays a significant role in revenue generation, there should be a programme of repeated testing and 24 hour a day monitoring to ensure that the customer experience is as straightforward as possible and that any problems are dealt with before they impact on the bottom line."