By Aimee Chanthadavong

Only 36 per cent of Australian retailers achieved a response time rating of less than two seconds on their websites, the results of the Gomez Web Performance Benchmark for The Australian Retail Industry revealed.

Matt Poepsel, Compuware Gimez vice president of performance strategies, told Retailbiz that the benchmark is necessary for retailers in order to assess how well they are doing in the market.

“The presence of the benchmark for retailers is so they can see where they are today relative to other retail websites in the market,” he said.

“They need to understand whether or not current results on their website are keeping customers happy and if not they have the opportunity to improve it as some users are in 12th place and as they make improvements to their website there’s a positive outcome of moving up the ladder board.”

The results from technology performance company Compuware, which measured the performance of 22 retail websites from 1 October to 1 November 2010, showed that BIG W, Target, Booktopia, Harvey Norman and David Jones were the top five performers, with response time ratings between 0.8 and 1.7 seconds.

Dan Murphy’s (#6), Dick Smith (#7) and Woolworths (#8) also had response time ratings under two seconds.

The other fourteen companies measured, which represent 64 per cent of benchmarked retailers, recorded response time ratings between 2.1 seconds and 12.6 seconds.

Website design and infrastructure in both the front and back end of a website are key reasons behind the variation in time responses, Poepsel said.

“I’m surprised by the wide variation. It’s clear that Australian consumers are getting frustrated and it’s clear that retailers have not yet come in terms of how important user experience on a website is,” he said.
The study also revealed that the Australian retail industry’s average response rate of 3.4 seconds was slower than international retail markets such as the US with an average of 2.2 seconds and the UK with 2.4 seconds.

“We’re at the early stage of awareness of the importance of having a user-friendly website and as retailers have more information about it they’ll take steps to really address any bottlenecks. It’s not easy to make it perform well but it is necessary,” Poepsel said.