(The Hosting News)- The majority of online shoppers continue to experience ‘virtual’ shop queues in the run up to Christmas, according to research released today by leading web hosting provider Fasthosts Internet Ltd. The study of 1500 consumers1found that a remarkable 80 per cent of shoppers encounter slow working websites at Christmas time, and 30 per cent believe that websites perform more slowly in the run up to the holiday season. An alarmingly 42 per cent of consumers have abandoned purchases on slow running sites whilst buying their gifts, and 34 per cent are more likely to switch to a competitor’s website during this period. The hopes of many firms are for brisk sales this Christmas, but the collective data warnsÂ that many online consumers are alienated by technical glitches.
Data from Fasthosts’ ‘Seasonal Web Sales’ study finds that the majority of online shoppers experience website usability issues at this time of the year. 80 per cent of shoppers have used a slow website when Christmas shopping around one third believes that retailer websites work more slowly than at other times of the year. A total of 44 per cent of shoppers have faced delays in the eCommerce process, including slower product searches, delayed payment processes and delays in receiving emailed confirmations. 1 in 4 shoppers (24 per cent) believe that retailers add too many seasonal products and offers to their websites, and so make the sites more difficult to navigate.
A significant number of Britons will sidestep brand loyalty in favour of speed and abandon a preferred retailer’s site for a competitor’s website because of the pressure of Christmas shopping. 1 in 3 shoppers (34 per cent) admit to being more likely to abandon a slow running retail website at Christmas than at other times of the year. Interestingly, women more inclined to switch to an alternative if they are experiencing problems with a retailer’s website (44 per cent compared to 39 per cent of men). On average, those in northern regions appear to be the most impatient. 50 per cent of Scots and 49 per cent of respondents in Yorkshire abandoned purchases because of speed, as compared to 39 per cent in London and 36 per cent in the South West. Younger age groups are more likely to form a negative impression of a business based on a slow website (36 per cent of under 25s, as compared to 25 per cent of those aged 45-54). This should act as a warning to Britain’s retailers, as customers will clearly no longer tolerate businesses that have poor hosting or web design in place.
Slow websites can cause brand-damage to the retailers concerned. 28 per cent of shoppers admit to feeling more negatively towards retailers as a result of such stress. Shoppers in the North West are the least forgiving with 34 per cent believing their opinion of retailers are negatively impacted. It would appear that women feel more pressured by the problem than male shoppers. 1 in 5 women (22 per cent) have suffered negative emotions from using slow websites, compared to 18 per cent of men (24 per cent). Once again, the problem appears to be decrease with age, with those aged 16-24 most affected.
Steve Holford, CMO Fasthosts Internet Ltd., said “The data shows that whilst many firms sell successfully online, usability can take a real knock at the most crucial time of the year. Shoppers today are more impatient and unforgiving than ever before, and are ready to source an alternative. Retailers must ensure that their hosting responds dynamically with increases in demand or they will lose revenue and reputation”.
Graham Jones, Internet Psychologist , advises, “In these days of high speed broadband, Internet shoppers expect rapid responses. If your web site doesn’t react quickly, if your server platform has technical problems or inadequacies, it’s almost certain you are losing purchasers”.
Holford added, “In an attempt to maximise sales and reduce costs, many retailers can forget the basics of good web design and hosting. Shoppers nowadays will only complete a sale if the whole experience is speedy and stable. Retailers should review their web infrastructure before the Christmas rush, and make regular tests throughout the period to check that their hosting is coping with demand”.
Retailers can take precautions against fluctuations in website performance by ensuring that their website design and databases are optimised, and by using web hosting with unlimited traffic levels and ‘load-balancing’ – the real-time monitoring of resource that can switch visitors to the most optimal web server at that time. Retailers of all sizes are advised to regularly review the web hosting resources they have in place. Nowadays, it is vital to leverage hosting that will not restrict visits or levy charges for increases in bandwidth. Large web hosts such as Fasthosts provide tools for business owners to monitor their website bandwidth usage, including filtered reports and email alerts.
Fasthosts is the UK’s number one web hosting company. Based in the UK and operating 24×7 from their dedicated UK data centres, Fasthosts keeps over 1 million domains running smoothly and ensures over 6 million emails are delivered safely each day. All Fasthosts services can be self-managed through the award winning Fasthosts web-based control panel that provides customers with unparalleled online control, enabling them to manage hosted services including domain registrations, shared web hosting, business-class email, dedicated servers, software-as-a-service, internet merchant accounts and unlimited broadband. Fasthosts’ highly successful reseller channel has recently been rated Number 1 for reseller hosting by industry portal Web Host Directory.