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ANALYSIS Tesco and ASDA poles apart in Cyber Monday web performance speeds

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by Mark Gunn of Compuware Gomez

‘Cyber Monday’ is traditionally the most lucrative day of the year for retailers, and this year appears to have been no exception. Media reports show the number of visits to websites is up by a third on last year with around 112 million online visits on the day.

But just how well did the websites of some of the UK’s biggest retailers cope with the shopping frenzy last week and how well are they faring in the Christmas build up? A study by Aberdeen Group into ecommerce site performance found that a one-second performance delay reduces sales conversions by seven per cent, a figure which can represent £2.55 million a year lost for a £100,000 per day site.

To answer some of those questions, Compuware Gomez ran a series of tests to compare the web performance speeds of 50 of the UK’s biggest retailers on December 3, and throughout the week after Cyber Monday. Ten ‘last mile tests’ were carried every hour on each of the 50 sites over the 24-hour shopping period to test landing page response times.

The results showed that Tesco came out on top with 100% availability on the day and an average response time of just 1.403 seconds, a far cry from another of the four big supermarket giants, ASDA, which had an average response time of 13.634 seconds and an availability rate of only 86.44%. The sluggish ASDA rate was more than double the average UK-retail benchmark of 6.369 seconds and far behind the average availability of 98.48%, making ASDA the worst performer of all the retailers who were tested. Ticketmaster fared the worst in terms of response times, taking an average of 13.936 seconds but made up for it by being more available (96.64%).

The good news for ASDA is that their response rate did improve through the week that followed last Monday’s peak. According to on-going tests by Compuware Gomez, ASDA’s response rate improved to an average download speed of 15.215 seconds and an availability rate of 93.23%, but it was still the worst of all those retailers who were tested.

Tesco dropped back marginally over the week both in terms of web performance response time and availability to 1.644 seconds and 99.39% respectively, but still held on to its number one spot as the retailer with the fastest performance. The UK-retail benchmark figure over the week, which saw 40,432 Last Mile Tests carried in total, showed average response times of 6.084 seconds and availability of 98.84%. Some of the major retailers who fared worse than the UK average in terms of response times included Amazon (6.378secs), John Lewis (6.895 secs) and Top Shop (8.754).

So there’s room for improvement for some and a pat of the back for others. Either way, there is still plenty of online shopping opportunities to come for retailers as the build up to Christmas Day continues. Compuware Gomez will be continuing to monitor how well retailers respond to those opportunities over the coming weeks.

Top ten UK retail sites, by web performance, in the week from December 3 (Cyber Monday)

Source: Compuware Gomez

Average response time (secs) Availability

Tesco UK 1.644 99.39

Shopzilla UK 1.967 99.27

Apple UK 2.131 99.64

BizRate 2.378 99.52

Homebase 2.64 99.76

Argos 2.81 99.88

AVG 3.243 99.51

M and M Direct 3.661 100

Ikea UK 3.688 99.15

Dell UK 3.83 99.4

UK retail

benchmark figure 6.084 98.84

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