Tech Industry

Study: Online shopping snags persist

A study of leading e-commerce sites this holiday season shows that they continue to underperform and that response time is inconsistent.

The problems of slow response from some of the leading online retailers seen in the first week of December continued through last week, data released on Tuesday shows.

The response time and success rate for shoppers trying to buy online from leading e-commerce Web sites was still inconsistent the week of Dec. 8, according to Keynote Systems, which tracks Web site performance. A cyclical pattern of poor performance at the beginning of the day with performance improving as the day wears on was also seen.

Keynote's performance index showed that consumers completed a transaction 95.98 percent of the time and that response time was 15.03 seconds. This is slightly better than the previous week. But transactions on the worst-performing site still failed almost 14 out of every 100 times the transaction was attempted.

The index measures response time and success rate for executing a typical multistep online transaction on 13 leading retail Web sites, including those of Amazon.com, eBay, Best Buy and Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Online shopping this season is predicted to peak at $17 billion during November and December, an increase of 21 percent from the same period last year. Online consumers have already spent $8.5 billion in November shopping, according to data released last week by The Goldman Sachs Group, Harris Interactive and Nielsen/NetRatings.

"Taking advantage of the strengths of online marketing can result in disaster, if your Web site is not prepared to handle the volume a marketing campaign engenders." Roopak Patel, senior analyst at Keynote's public services group, said in a statement. "Whether a customer buys online or just does research, the multipage transaction must work in order to assure customer loyalty and revenue goals."

Separately, in a snapshot from one large city, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu on Wednesday said 61 percent of Chicagoans report that they plan to shop online this holiday season, up from 50 percent last year and 56 percent nationally this year.