Annual sales promotions running over the post-Christmas and New Year period generated significant consumer interest but many retail websites were unable to cope with the associated increase in traffic, according to a recent study by software vendor, Borland.
Part of the Micro Focus company, it used an advanced in-house website performance tool based on Silk Performer technology, to identify a correlation between sales-generated traffic rises and increases in website response times. Borland claimed many online stores of popular Australian retailers, including Woolworths, JB Hi-Fi and Big W, experienced significantly longer response times due to traffic spikes during the festive season.
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On New Year's Eve alone, Woolworths online experienced a response time delay exceeding 10 seconds. JB Hi-Fi saw its greatest peak on Boxing Day, causing response delays of up to five seconds. Big W's website response time varied from five to ten seconds.
According to Borland, minor delays to website response times can have a sizable impact on customer satisfaction, page views, conversion rates and site abandonment.
It said a one second delay in website response time leads to 11 per cent fewer page views, a 16 per cent decrease in customer satisfaction and seven per cent loss in conversions.
"Users are losing patience with poor performing websites. Consumers are redefining what 'instant' means -- attention spans are getting shorter and brand loyalty is increasingly fragile," Micro Focus Asia-Pacific and Japan Borland architect, Jeff Findlay, said.
He added that the average online shopper expects Web pages to load in two seconds or less; Up to 40 per cent will abandon the site after three seconds, while 74 per cent abandon it after five seconds.
"This is an issue that online merchants need to get a handle on. Online commerce is growing across channels, and more than a quarter of online purchases are made on mobile devices.
"Retail brands increasingly depend on a strong multi-channel presence, and seasonal promotions provide a great opportunity to market to new audiences," Findlay said.