News: Websites trail the high street

The CacheFlow UK Commerce 2001 study of 20 high street chains on and around London’s Oxford Street reveals problems with online and offline integration – only WH Smith, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and HMV have made weekly identifiable changes to the content of their website home pages. The majority of retailers didn’t make regular updates to their online content. A fifth made significant changes to shop window displays, but not to their website.

The survey also revealed that customers had to wait an average of 35 seconds for a home page to download from an e-commerce site. Research by US Internet analyst Zona Research in 1999 showed shoppers are likely to leave a site if they are unable to download web pages in less than eight seconds. The Cacheflow survey found that Vodafone’s website downloaded quickest at 10.9 seconds, while Wellbeing and Woolworths’ were slowest at nearly 50 seconds.

Nigel Hawthorn, channel and marketing director EMEA for Cacheflow, said: “In September, more than 18m people went online in the UK, more than will walk past a shop window in a year and these potential customers should be given a reason to return regularly to online shops. Changing content on a website is less taxing and costly for a retailer than managing changes across the shop fronts of geographically dispersed multiple stores. The potential of the web is currently being ignored.”


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