Thursday, 17th January 2019
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Consumers think online outages are caused by poorly built and designed websites

Rackspace is warning retailers to get their websites ready for predicted traffic spikes after 83 per cent of UK consumers claim a consistently slow or unavailable websites negatively affect their brand loyalty. According to a survey of over 2,000 consumers in the UK[1], over half of consumers (56 per cent) buy something online at least once a week and 59 per cent of shoppers will browse online during big shopping events such a Black Friday.

Despite shoppers being keen to pick up a bargain online during busy shopping periods, brands only have a limited window of opportunity to keep them happy. Almost one in five consumers (18 per cent) would only wait 10 seconds or less for a website or page to load before they would abandon their search and look elsewhere. Overall 37 per cent would only give it 20 seconds to work properly.


As a result of an outage or unacceptable load time, over a quarter (28 per cent) said they would go to a different site to buy their chosen item and 14 per cent would go to the high street instead.


Paul Bolt, VP of Technology Practices, Rackspace commented “Brand loyalty is hugely important for any business but the choice and variety that’s so readily available online can make consumers even more fickle when it comes to their spending habits. The gap between the digital and bricks and mortar shopping experience has closed and shoppers now expect a completely seamless experience across a brand’s online and offline presence. As many retailers look to the last quarter of the year to boost sales and hit their targets they need to make sure their sites are running properly 100% of the time. Website error messages really do need to become a thing of the past if brands don’t want to risk losing revenue because of a badly performing website.”


Smarter shoppers
Although the majority of shoppers said that they believed traffic surges were the most common cause for website troubles (58 per cent), more are recognising that it is often a result of poor design (45 per cent), poorly built websites (39 per cent) or website maintenance (39 per cent). Interestingly, 16 per cent said it could be due to an external problem such as the website being hacked.


Bolt continued: “It’s obvious that shoppers are getting smarter and understand that there are things retailers can do to make sure they don’t have issues with their website’s performance. When it comes to building or growing their online presence, businesses need to factor the build, design and infrastructure of their sites so that they can keep going 24/7 Cloud infrastructure gives businesses the scope to scale up and down whenever they need so there really is no excuse for downtime anymore.”


Spencer Hudson, Internet Technical Solutions Manager, GHD added: "Christmas is the most demanding commercial period we face, so it's an important time for us from an operational perspective. This is particularly true on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and then through to Christmas where the majority of our web activity takes place. To prepare for this, we know we have to have the right IT systems running to handle these peaks in demand and allow us to cope with the surges in web activity when they occur. Fundamentally it all comes down to a question of brand loyalty - it's what customers think of us and our ability to serve them - and we can't risk losing customers through a poorly performing website. We need to deliver on the promises we make and the best way to achieve this is by building a strong relationship with a provider who understands our business and the wider retail landscape."

Anticipating the change
In response to these findings, Rackspace has identified four upcoming events that could cause websites to suffer:
1) Rugby World Cup – Although tickets for the actual event have already sold out, as England plays host to one of the biggest sporting events of the year, betting sites, takeaway food sites, visitor information and team sites will all face a huge surge in visitors during the competition. This goes hand in hand with the high-levels of online streaming that will take place
2) Black Friday – Last year, websites were swamped by record demand as five times[2] the average number of shoppers went online to snap up the best Christmas bargains. Many retailers reported website problems as consumers raced to take advantage of promotions. So this year, the traffic spike is likely to be even bigger, particularly with the rise in mobile phone browsing making multi-channel retailing even more competitive
3) Cyber Monday – ?720 million was spent on last year’s Cyber Monday[3], an event that has been in the UK’s pre-Christmas calendar for a number of years and continues to host a huge amount of online commerce
4) Boxing Day – Where once people waited outside stores at 5am to queue up for the best post-Christmas bargains, it’s now easier than ever to get the best boxing day bargains from the comfort of your sofa. This year, even more people will be searching on their desktops and phones for deals so retailers need to make sure websites across multiple channels are as prepared as their brick and mortar stores

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