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Top etailers take Christmas lead: study

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Download speeds for leading UK etailers’ websites broke records over Christmas – but their competitors are lagging too far behind, a new study suggests.

Research carried out by web monitoring and load testing business Site Confidence, part of the NCC Group, found that while on average the top 50 etailers brought their webpage download speeds down to 5.2 seconds during the fourth quarter of 2011 – below the significant six second target – the top ten etailers did much better. They averaged download speeds of 4.33 seconds.

That creates a gap between the top retailers and the rest of the field that must be addressed, said Site Confidence.

Its director, Bob Dowson said: “The Christmas trading figures are proving how important online retail is.

“The so-called ‘death of the high street’ is a recurrent theme, but if retailers with roots in physical stores want to take advantage of the online lifeline, they need to focus on the same old priorities of customer experience.”

He said that too many sites were only paying attention to download speeds in the peak shopping season, whereas they should be aiming for consistency through the year.

“We’re in danger of a handful of e-tailers monopolising the field,” said Dowson. “The very top sites are noticeably faster and more consistent. If online shopping is to continue supporting the retail industry in a vibrant way, more retailers need to prioritise ease, efficiency and enjoyment of shopping, just as they would on the high street.”

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