UK retailers lost an estimated £84 million of online sales in the busiest quarter of 2005 due to unreliable websites, according to research conducted by leading retail analyst, Verdict Consulting. As was published by Retail Bulletin, the results are based on conservative growth estimates of the online sales channel, this figure looks set to rise to at least £226 million in lost sales during 2006. “A retailer is judged on all aspects of interaction – so a shoddy, slow or unavailable website is going to cut much deeper than just the lost sale, according to Mark Collyer – market development director at Xansa.
Xansa and Akamai commissioned the research which questioned 52 leading UK retailers to establish the cost of ineffective websites over Christmas 2005. The results showed that downtime and unavailable or slow websites lead to a loss of customer sales amounting to over £84 million. Commenting on these findings Mark Collyer, market development director at Xansa, said: “This research shows that, despite increasing numbers of shoppers using the online channel, retailers are failing to support and integrate this important part of the retail experience. Whilst some retailers have addressed outdated approaches to infrastructure, website development, service management and back-office integration, others continue to plaster over the cracks and hope that the problem will go away. As an increasing number of shoppers turn to the online channel, this situation will only get worse for retailers who fail to act now.”
Perhaps most likely to contribute to shopper frustration is the fact that 17 per cent of retailers faced some form of website downtime, with nearly 10 per cent of those experiencing several hours of outage. What’s more, 15 per cent of those surveyed admitted to slow site performance over the festive season. Seven per cent of these faced issues for up to a week. Malcolm Rowe, retail sales director at Akamai Northern Europe, said: “The provisioning of bandwidth and support infrastructure is critical to ensuring that retail websites provide optimum performance at all times. The fact that so many of the retailers still face website performance and downtime issues is a real wake-up call that these issues must be addressed.”
“If the thought of losing £226 million in sales isn’t shocking enough, retailers must realise that lost sales can be just the tip of the iceberg,” added Collyer. “There are many factors that affect your perception of a brand and can influence buying decisions across channels. A retailer is judged on all aspects of interaction – so a shoddy, slow or unavailable website is going to cut much deeper than just the lost sale.”
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