Online retailers not ready for Christmas rush

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Online retailers not ready for Christmas rush

With the festive period fast approaching and online spending at an all time high, web hosting providers are warning businesses to have their online presence in top condition or face losing customers.

Online spending is predicted to be up by 42 percent on last Christmas, to a staggering £13.8bn, and although many businesses have stepped up investment in delivery systems to ensure orders arrive, many have not prepared to make sure websites perform in the run up to Christmas.

With 61 per cent of UK homes connected to the internet, and 84 per cent of those on broadband, recent research carried out by solutions provider Akamai suggested that 75 per cent of consumers would not tolerate an online wait of more than four seconds before looking elsewhere.

Jonathan Robinson, chief operating officer at web hosting firm NetBenefit, said: "The Christmas holidays are just around the corner, and this means a significantly increased sales opportunity for online retailers. However, bad customer experiences such as snail-like speeds during the purchase are just as likely to turn a potential customer away as a long queue at the check-out counter and can generate a significant amount of longer term damage to the brand.

Robinson advised retailers to consider whether websites measure up to the four-second test, so companies should be asking whether their sites have enough bandwidth to deliver pages quickly enough, no matter what the load during the festive period.

"Speak to your hosting company and find out exactly what your bandwidth limit is and whether you will be penalised for exceeding it. You should also be able to get access to your existing usage statistics. Hosting providers can offer short term burstable bandwidth contracts designed for just such seasonal or sudden peaks in traffic," Robinson said.

He added that by implementing simple website traffic rules at the checkout, companies can make sure that all shoppers ready to buy are prioritised.

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