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Ecommerce site slowdown could put sites under pressure ahead of Black Friday

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Analysis of the UK’s top 50 retail websites suggests a slowing down in the speed at which their homepages load. Web performance specialists at NCC Group warn this could affect performance over Black Friday and the run up to Christmas. They say that none of the sites they tested over the course of the second quarter of this year met the recommended standards of 0.75 seconds to start displaying content or 500kb for page size. Instead, these websites took an average of 3.38 seconds to start displaying, while average page size was 2.23mb.

They say this is important because people are more likely to abandon a web page if they don’t see a fast response, while big web pages take longer to finish loading. For the second quarter in a row, none of the sites met the recommended target of three seconds for total load time, with the average being 15.12 seconds. That’s 3% longer than it was in the first quarter of the year, and 25% higher than a year ago.

Ben Daniel, head of the web performance professional services team at NCC Group, said: “Average figures have been getting consistently poorer for Britain’s top retail sites, but this latest analysis shows that it’s not just a case of a few poor performers bringing the averages down. Instead, the slowdown seems much more broadly based, with even some of the top players missing key targets.

“Furthermore, retailers should not rely on fast broadband connections to bail them out. Delivering sites that load quickly on slower connections is now more important than ever as more and more people browse and shop on mobile devices with unreliable connectivity.”

The analysis also highlighted that a range of factors, including poorly optimised images, third-party content and ‘blocking’ scripts that can delay the point at which a page begins to display, all contributed to the slower performance.

Daniel continued, “Although there appears to be an increasing awareness that speed can affect conversion, SEO and customer satisfaction, too many are heading in the wrong direction. This doesn’t bode well for retailers as they gear up for Black Friday, when systems are going to be under more pressure, putting websites at risk of further slowdowns.”

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