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Study: Download delays cost $4 billion yearly

Commerce sites stand to lose some $4.35 billion a year because of long download times and Web page failures, according to the research firm's report.

E-commerce sites stand to lose some $4.35 billion a year because of long download times, according to a newly released study.

Some of the momentum e-commerce has built up may dissipate at the hands of balky modems and Web page failures, according to Zona Research. More than one-third of all Web users may give up on purchasing an item online after being frustrated by the shopping experience, the report says.

The new study may serve as a warning that despite all the talk about high-speed Net services, Web sites still need to cater to low-end users.

For example, a significant portion of the predicted lost sales could come from online shoppers using 14.4-kbps modems. The study said that such users who are unable to download pages within 8 seconds could account for approximately $73 million per month in lost sales.

Additionally, the study may not provide comfort to sites such as eBay, which have suffered major outages in recent weeks. Such sites stand to lose some $58 million a month in sales because of users unable to download pages.

The report found that 44.1 million shoppers are online in the United States; and 37.5 million more are expected within the next year.

A CommerceNet Nielsen Media Research study released earlier this month put the number of online shoppers in the United States and Canada at 55 million people. That study had an error margin of 0.6 percent. The margin of error was not immediately available for the Zona study.