UK online retailers not ready for Christmas surge

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Online shopping has been enjoying something of a boom thanks to the pandemic, but a new report indicates that not all retailer sites are as good as they could be.

In a test of the websites of over 250 UK online retailers, Edge Testing Solutions looked at factors including, load time, navigation tools, image quality and broken links.

It finds that load speed is a key factor, with 16 percent of landing pages taking on average ten seconds to fully load with three sites taking longer than 20 seconds. Also 85 percent scored a 'C' or lower on Google's speed test, with 51 of the tested websites receiving an 'F'.

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"The findings of the study make for fascinating reading," says Sharon Hamilton, MD of Edge Testing. "In these challenging times e-commerce is a vital business model not just for success but also currently, for survival. Key surprises were around performance. A retailer cannot afford to have a slow or unresponsive website -- especially as customers are demanding immediate response times and the majority are happy to move on to a competitors’ website if kept waiting."

Most sites score well for ease of navigation with 98 percent of the websites tested receiving a grading of A-C. Fashion and footwear retailers have the highest website usability scores, with 75 percent making the top 20 scores.

Only nine percent of tested websites displayed images to an 'A' grade standard, according to the Website Speed Test tool. There's a trade-off to be made here though, because large images slow down web pages creating less than optimal user experience.

On average, three percent of links on sites weren't functioning, however, on seven percent of sites more than 10 percent of links were non-functioning. Only six sites scored a perfect 100 percent with all links functioning, these included big brands Ikea and Pets at Home.

Hamilton concludes, "During a time where consumers are shifting to online shopping more than ever before, Edge's research reveals that retailers still have room for improvement, with slow speed, poor image quality and broken links threatening user experience. Many of the poorer performers were well known brands who cannot afford to let a poor performing website impact forthcoming sales."

You can get the full report from the Edge Testing site.

Image credit: GeneGlavitsky/depositphotos.com

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