November 6, 2006, 12:00 AM

Half of online shoppers report web performance problems

Nearly half of consumers report frequent problems completing online purchases and nearly all complain that web sites load too slowly, new surveys show.

Nine out of 10 consumers plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping online; nearly half, however, report frequent problems completing online purchases and nearly all complain that web sites load too slowly, new surveys show.

E-retailers will leave millions of dollars on the table this holiday season unless they dramatically improve their customers’ online experiences, according to results of two new surveys commissioned by web performance management firm Gomez Inc. And poor online performance leads consumers not only to abandon purchases but also to abandon the retailer, both online and in store, the surveys found.

“The correlation between an unsatisfactory online experience and potential revenue loss has never been stronger,” says William Agush, vice president of marketing at Gomez. “Now more than ever, online retailers need to focus on ensuring a consistently superior web experience that will drive sales and brand loyalty or risk losing the customer to a competitor.”

At stake is the $501 to over $2,000 that just over half (54%) of respondents plan on spending this holiday season as well as sales at bricks-and-mortar stores whose brands can be damaged by poor online performance, the surveys conclude.

Survey company Zoomerang, on behalf of Gomez, polled 519 consumers in the U.S. during the month of September 2006 for its “Online Customer Experience” survey, which sought to understand online shoppers’ experiences and attitudes. For Gomez’s “Online Power Shopper Report,” Zoomerang polled 267 consumers in the U.S. during October, seeking to identify the profiles and behaviors of various categories of online shoppers. Respondent profiles for both surveys included an equal number of men and women age 18-45 that shop online.

“What we’ve learned is that online shoppers have high expectations for their online experience and a low tolerance for downtime, inconsistency and slowdowns,” Agush says. “These shoppers are quick to assign blame for poor web performance to the retailer. They have money to spend, and if their retailer’s web site does not deliver, they are quick to take their money elsewhere.”

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