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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : April 24, 2012

UK's busiest online retailers have the fastest loading websites

Britain's leading online retailers are widening the gap in terms of web performance with the busiest also being the fastest, reveals new research from the NCC Group. Meanwhile, Strangeloop's findings suggest engaging content trumps the need for speed.

by Helen Leggatt

Research from the NCC Group reveals that, while the top ten UK online retailers averaged a download speed of 4.4 seconds during the first quarter of 2012, the remaining top 50 lagged behind with average speeds of over a second longer - 5.5 seconds.

With consumers sensitive to the speed the websites they visit load in - most expecting times of around 2-3 seconds - companies that don't offer the best possible web performance will lose visitors to faster competitors.

Commenting on his company's findings, Bob Dowson, director, said: "The top sites have pulled further away after a busy Christmas period, and other online businesses need to make sure they're delivering an efficient customer experience all year, not just during busy periods. Online businesses must focus more of their efforts on site performance otherwise the sites with the most traffic will continue to dominate. E-tailers must monitor and react to ensure their customers receive the best possible experience."

Research by Canada-based Strangeloop, released earlier this year, found a somewhat different situation. It revealed that the top websites were actually slower than the rest of the pack, usually due to content such as interactive displays, product presentations or video. However, while these elements make a website slower to load, they do improve site stickiness, conversion rates and, ultimately, revenue.

"Site speed is a constantly moving target," said Jonathan Bixby, CEO, Strangeloop Networks. "We're always hearing numbers from one-off reports, but trying to compare these reports is an apples-and-oranges exercise. Our goal in conducting these annual surveys is to establish a baseline across a large set of sites, then measure these sites every year and revisit that baseline. By doing this, we can identify changes and trends that will be useful to site owners and the web performance community at large."

Tags: consumer insight, load times, online retail, rich content, UK, web performance, website design

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