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Online retailers fall short on Boxing Day

Written by Scott Thompson
09/01/2014

Keynote has announced its findings of how well 18 popular UK fashion sites performed in the week before and after Christmas.

On Boxing Day, the sites monitored took 3.29 seconds to load on average, far longer than the Keynote recommended maximum of two seconds. Site availability wasn’t much better, and an average of 97.08 per cent successful load rate saw availability fall well below the ideal minimum of 99 per cent. Some of this poor reliability may have been a result of changes to the sites overnight, from Christmas promotions to sales, but some sites did continue to suffer throughout the day. Dorothy Perkins, for example, only had 50 per cent availability at 11am, and River Island dipped to 66.67 per cent at midday. All Saints, Burton, French Connection, Gap, Miss Selfridge, Monsoon, New Look, Next, Office, Size, TopMan, TopShop and Uniqlo, all had performance issues of some kind on Boxing Day.

Overall, the sites became faster during the week after Christmas compared to the week before – with 12 out of the 18 sites achieving faster response times – but they were less reliable. Only six out of the 18 retail sites secured a higher load success rate compared to the previous week. Across both weeks, H&M was the only site to achieve an availability score of 100 per cent and keep its response time under one second.

“Boxing Day is a pivotal point for online retailers. They go from offering inspiration for Christmas purchases to driving sales, and this transition needs to be seamless if companies are to secure as much revenue as possible,” says Robert Castley, performance management expert at Keynote. “It is good to see that the sites are keeping pace with consumer demand by adapting their sites once Christmas Day is over, but they need to pay closer attention to ensuring a consistently good customer experience. With the majority of sites failing to load as successfully as they did in the week before Christmas, consumers may have an easy choice when it comes to deciding where to, and where to not, online sales shop.”

He adds: “The pressure sites seem to have felt on Boxing Day may also be an indication of changing consumer shopping trends. In previous years, bargain hunters rushed to the shops on Boxing Day, but they may now be more likely to stay in the comfort of their own homes and shop from their computers or, perhaps, their new tablet. This growing tendency to sales shop online could be a hugely lucrative opportunity for retailers. To take advantage of this, they must keep traffic volumes in mind when preparing their site for post-Christmas sales to ensure it can cope with the demand. Christmas is a testing time for retailers, but offering customers a reliable and fast experience will secure customer loyalty, not only during the festive season, but it could also have a real impact on retailers’ bottom line throughout the year.”



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