Research from cloud-based performance experts, Dyn, has revealed the increasingly critical impact of web site performance on online retailers' sales and customer experiences.
More than two-thirds of retailers believe their customers receive the best service online (either website, mobile or app), compared to 25% of retailers believing the best customer service comes from in-store.
Online sales are representing a bigger piece of the retail revenue than ever before. 75% of retailers in the UK said that online sales represented at least half of their total 2014 revenue, and a third of retailers said that it was 75% or more of total revenue.
In addition, mobile is making up a larger portion of total online revenue. A third of UK retailers found that half of their online sales in 2014 came from purchases made on mobile devices.
Therefore, it is no surprise that nearly all UK retailers are optimistic about the future of online shopping. 96% expect at least a 25% increase in online sales this year - and half expect online sales will increase by 50%, showing the growing awareness of ecommerce opportunities.
UK retailers have found that online sales are largely driven by international shoppers. More than two-thirds of retailers surveyed said that between 25-50% of their sales originate from other countries.
Globally nearly 70% of consumers surveyed have bought from retailers located in other countries, offering UK retailers the opportunity to benefit from cross border commerce as the popularity of British brands abroad rises.
85% also noted if it were faster and easier, they would consider doing it more often. Yet, three-quarters of retailers say that their customers' online shopping experience varies on where they are located.
"Consumers are willing to spend their money with retailers who provide the best online experience. The expectation is regardless of where customers are geographically located. Retailers must continue to work to make their customers' shopping experience faster and easier," noted Paul Heywood, EMEA managing director for Dyn.
Barriers to online sales growth
Most retailers in the UK are acutely aware of one of the biggest problems stalling, or worse, squashing sales: 90% of those surveyed said their companies lose sales because of poor website performance at least 25% of the time; about half of those said this happens at least 50% of the time.
After a slow online experience, 70% of retailers said they think consumers will immediately go to other avenues to complete a purchase-go to a direct competitor, search for another site or go to a physical store.
Poor website performance can also negatively impact a customer's lifetime value with that brand. UK retailers surveyed acknowledge that the speed and quality of website performance affects a consumer's trust in that company. In fact, about half of retailers believe that's the case, in step with the reality that 42% of consumers agree.
Winning the retail race
If retailers want to increase online sales, the online experience needs to improve. More than 57% of retailers think that one of the biggest things consumers want to see when shopping online is the same quality of experience, yet more than 76% admit that today the experience isn't consistent at all.
When asked where consumers expect to see improvements in the online shopping experience, perception and reality are at odds among IT executives and consumers surveyed in the UK. While finding what they are looking for faster is important to more consumers than a personalised experience, more IT executives are putting a greater emphasis on the latter.
On a more positive note, IT executives are actively investing in new technologies to improve online and mobile shopping experiences. The top three areas of investment across the board are mobile app development (68%), Web/mobile traffic acceleration (58%) and geolocation capabilities for customers (44%).
"Online and mobile shopping is on-the-rise in the UK, providing online retailers with a tremendous opportunity to grow their revenue and global footprint - if they can meet consumer expectations. Our research shows that perception among retailers is, in many cases, aligned with what consumers are expecting and experiencing when shopping online and on mobile devices," concluded Heywood. "But perhaps the biggest challenge is that most retailers don't have a clear understanding of exactly what's getting in the way of delivering the fast, easy and secure online and mobile shopping experiences that consumers have come to expect."