Why UK retailers should invest in faster websites

Monday, 25 November 2013
"There is significant revenue to be recovered by making sites work faster. In some cases this amount could be enough to open a brand new store,” stated Hedley Aylott, CEO of Summit, e-commerce specialists in a new report
which researched the speed of UK retail websites. According to Summit, websites that are too slow to load pages cost the British online retail industry 8.5 billion pounds this year. Summit looked at 230 leading retailers who traded online and reported that 92 percent of UK retailers are not meeting the 3 second page load mark. Some e-commerce stores even took 8 seconds or more to load a page.


Fast page loading time could equal to bigger revenues for online retailers

Summit's data revealed that product pages that are too slow to load are the most vulnerable to lose revenue. A slow online store can lead to frustration in shoppers and lead to a reduction in the number of pages they view, which in turn leads to a lower overall average order. “Everyone talks about website speed, but only as a technical issue; this is the first time it has been aligned to loss of revenue. [Summit] exposed the cost of slow websites to British retail,” added Aylott. Aberdeen Group, business intelligence researcher, also released data which reported that a one second delay in a page response can lead up to a 7 percent cut in conversions, an 11 percent decline in the number of pages viewed and a 16 percent deduction in overall customer satisfaction.

While having a fast website may be key to boosting online sales and keeping customers happy, according to research from Verdict, retail information specialist, m-commerce is not a current driving factor for online retailers in the UK. Patrick O' Brien, lead analyst at Verdict even stated that 'm-commerce is dead.'


Most online purchases on mobile devices in the UK are made from home or work

According to Verdict’s survey, which was taken by 10,000 UK online shoppers during the month of October, just 2 percent of online purchases were made from outside the home or workplace. 56 percent of transactions carried out via a tablet took place in the living room, 53 percent via computer or laptop in the same room and 48 percent via smartphone. The image of frantic shoppers making their purchases while traveling, waiting in line or in a store via m-commerce is exaggerated by the media and retailers and is not a true reflection of UK online shoppers.

Verdict also pointed that if British online retailers truly want to make the most out of the growing potential from transactions made via smartphones and tablets, they need to ensure that they are aware of their customer location and make sure that customers can browse through product pages as easily, if not easier via m-commerce than e-commerce. Purchasing on the go should be as simple for consumers as purchasing from the comforts of their own homes.

For example, Summit's report revealed online retailers whose average site speed was three seconds or less included established fashion label Zara. Parent company of the Spanish brand, Inditex, was recently named the biggest seller of online fashion in Spain by the Companies Registry and reported a turnover of 82.2 million euros for online sales in the country for the year 2012. This is shows that online retailers who offer fast working site both via m-commerce and e-commerce, stand the best chance of minimizing potential revenue losses.

In a time when retail sales via laptops, tablets and smartphones continues to increase at a rapid pace, having a fast and easy to navigate site is key to online success. More and more brands like Jimmy Choo, Ted Baker and Moda in Pelle have invested in new online sites and updated their digital stores in an effort to attract more customers and offer a seamless integrated shopping experience.

“Customers are faced with increasing levels of choice all the time, across a wide range of channels, networks and devices. The impact on visitor bounce rates (where a user arrives at a retail site but leaves without visiting any other pages) has been clear to see... in 2010 the average rate was 21.7 percent for the year but by 2012 this had risen to 27 percent. "The competition for consumer attention is only going to get fiercer going forward,” concluded Andrew McClelland, chief operations and policy officer at IMRG, UK's industry association for online retail in the Summit report. So even though m-commerce may not be as important to UK online retailers as previously believed, having a fast, smooth running online store can make a difference in boosting potential online revenue.


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