Holiday Retail Web Site Performances: Steady but Slow

How well have retail Web sites been faring this season? Mixed, with perennial Web speedsters Eddie Bauer and Office Depot on the top and Office Max and Target on the bottom.

If the "Max" in Office Max is supposed to refer to the amount of time its e-commerce server takes to respond, its aptly named.

And Targets target is apparently not lightning-fast e-commerce experiences. Those conclusions are courtesy of the latest round of Web traffic analysis from the folks at Keynote Systems.

At the top of the responsive list were frequent winners Eddie Bauer and Office Depot, followed quickly by Wal-Mart and Costco. Rounding out the middle were Sears, JC Penny and Best Buy.

Keynotes figures have the average response time for completing a transaction on the e-commerce transaction index at typically 13 to 14 seconds. This week, testing showed that the speed for completing a transaction slowed to more than 21 seconds. The success rate for completing a transaction on the same index fell to 80 percent, while the average reliability for completing a transaction on the index is usually 97 percent.

/zimages/3/28571.gifFast response time is certainly one way to help deliver customer service. But consumers are demanding better customer service in quite a few ways. To read more, click here.

How much of an effect these multisecond delays will have on shoppers is hard to accurately project. Holiday shoppers are more likely to be making multiple purchases for other people—going through their proverbial list and e-checking them twice.

Are those shoppers less tolerant of those delays because they have more to buy at different sites and because they have less of an emotional tie to the product? Or are they more tolerant because of the supposedly festive nature of the activity and their realistic expectation of slower everything around the holidays?

"The customer during the holidays is going to be browsing more and doing more comparing. And the use of search engines sharply increases during this time of year," said Al Hurlebaus, director of e-commerce for CompUSA. "Some of them are putting themselves on various wish lists for a particular item. The ease of use of a Web site at this time of year is certainly extremely important."

Next Page: Holiday shoppers expectations.