August 12, 2010, 10:16 AM

Poor site performance could cost retailers sales

Merchants can avoid a headache by improving site performance before the holidays.

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Consumers aren’t willing to wait for a site to load when they’re ready, willing and eager to make a purchase, says Margaret Rivera, industry marketing manager, e-commerce, for Akamai Technologies Inc., a provider of content delivery technology.

“That’s particularly true during the holidays,” she says. “When it comes to site performance retailers need to exceed customer expectations because if they don’t customers will go to another site that does.”

Every retailer should have a backup plan so that its site is always available. That may be either preparing a static version of its site that is set to load when the dynamic site is down or it could be leveraging a content delivery network, like Akamai, that can help the retailer avoid having too much traffic from one particular area overwhelming a server.

“If retailers make sure that their pages load fast and they have their backup plans in place, that’s one less thing to worry about during the holidays,” she says.

Retailers also can’t ignore the growth in cross-channel shopping, she says, particularly the growth in smartphones. According to a recent Nielsen report 31% of consumers have smartphones, a 63.2% increase from 19% a year ago.

That means more shoppers will be using their phones in store to compare prices, which make having a mobile presence that works really critical, says Rivera. “Retailers need to ask themselves how they can streamline each activity on their site to make it faster for the shopper using her phone in a store,” she says.

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