Online Shopping Can Be a Big Boost for Businesses: Rackspace

More than half of the respondents of the Rackspace survey said they are planning to do most of their Christmas shopping online.

Retailers in the United States and the United Kingdom stand to gain an enormous amount from online shopping sales, as more than half of the respondents of a survey by cloud hosting specialist Rackspace said they are planning to do most of their Christmas shopping online.

A whopping 86 percent of respondents intend to buy at least some element of their Christmas online, from gifts (69 percent) to Christmas music and games (13 percent) and travel tickets to see family or friends (14 percent). This appears to be a popular evening pursuit for most users, with 52 percent planning to shop at home in the evenings.

This year almost one-fifth (18 percent) of those surveyed will be shopping online using tablets—a substantial increase from the 10 percent who shopped in this way last year. Similarly, smartphone usage for online purchases is up from 10 percent last year to 16 percent this year.

"Our study suggests that this may be the most connected Christmas ever. This means that all businesses with an online presence–not just retailers–need to ensure they have the hosting infrastructure and support in place to deal with inevitable traffic peaks over the entire festive season," John Engates, chief technology officer for Rackspace, said in a statement. "Imagine the frustration if you are unable to shop at a certain Website before Christmas, or use an app with your brand new tablet on Christmas Day. With so much to gain or lose over the festive season, it’s high time for businesses to ensure that such frustrations do not become unwelcome Christmas traditions."

However, the study of the 4,000 U.K. and U.S. adults shows that more than half (55 percent) of the shoppers surveyed experienced online frustrations last Christmas, with 44 percent of this group abandoning their purchase, and 34 percent trying a different Website.

The top frustrations were cited as complicated checkout procedures (29 percent), followed by slow-loading Websites (25 percent). With 44 percent of shoppers abandoning purchases if they cannot quickly and easily use the Website, the survey suggested e-tailers can’t afford for any system lag or unavailability.

To avoid Website slowdown, Rackspace recommended e-tailers in particular should do a full audit of their Qeb hosting environment to check if there is enough network connection and server space available to handle a high influx of Web traffic.

The company also recommended they should load test Websites by flooding them with a large volume and variety of requests, from simpler tasks such as landing on the home page to keyword searches, filling up baskets and checking out.