Research from website monitoring and load testing specialist Site Confidence has found that online retailers fail to prepare for the Christmas shopping rush starting in November, despite it being the highest month for time spent on retail websites over the festive period.
The company found that November 2008 saw more than three times as many failures of retail websites when compared to December, and that it resulted in four times as much downtime.
November has been the highest month for total time spent online in the retail sector in quarter four for the last three years, according to ComScore.
Site Confidence says the findings should spur internet retailers to consider their online offering earlier than November to maximise sales opportunities in the run up to Christmas. "Competition at Christmas is fierce in the e-retail space, and companies know that their websites are essential in gaining competitive advantage," says the company's Bob Dowson. "Most try to prepare early, but some are still using November to rectify functionality problems before December."
"Either online retailers are unaware of the importance of November, both in terms of sales and present research, or they don't allow the necessary time to rigorously test their sites for capacity and performance. UK consumers spent a staggering £4.6 billion online on presents and food last Christmas, so, to each get their slice, e-retailers must ensure strong availability in November 2009, as well as December and January, " Dowson continues.
"Rigorous load testing ahead of November can help to ensure online retailers have the necessary capacity to cope with predicted periods of increased traffic in this important month, while website monitoring can ensure that user experience remains unaffected by poor performance."