Almost a third of all retailers have seen their ecommerce sales rise 26-50% in the last two years but nearly half have been caught off-guard and are unable to deal with surges in traffic according to research.
Level 3 Communications commissioned research firm K2 Advisory to conduct the study which examined attitudes towards online purchasing among lare-scale retailers.
The survey, which was carried out among over 100 senior IT professionals in the first half of this year, also found that support for mobile commerce in the UK is patchy, and not part of an integrated channel strategy.
Thirty-five percent of respondents said that between 26-50% of their total sales were generated online, see below, with 59% claiming that online was their fastest-growing sales channel.
However, despite the surge in sales, many respondents expressed concern over their company’s existing ability to cope with huges spikes in website traffic such as those generated by sharp price reductions, such as Black Friday in the US.
Fourty-five percent of those surveyed said they were investing in their existing IT infrastructure to “ensure we are more prepared” while 13% claimed “our performance is not consistent. Sometimes good, sometimes bad”, see below.
Sachin Sony, Level 3 Communcations product manager, EMEA, said, “We wanted to get perceptions of the growth of ecommerce over the last two years [which has been rapid].”
Sony also reported that almost a third (32%) of respondents also reported that their last major website outage had been prompted by difficulties at their data centres.
Meanwhile, an additional 29% said their website’s infrastructure could not cope with sudden demands in traffic, see below.
“Despite planning a lot of people had been caught out,” added Sony adding that in a lot of cases the problem had gotten worse by three-to-four times from the previous year.
The survey also delved into how the emergence of connected devices is prompting a shift in how retailers channel their resources.
Despite half of the UK’s phone users owning a smartphone, 41% of those taking part in the study said that under 10% of their online sales are conducted on mobile devices.
From a consumer perspective uptake of mobile has been rapid but it will be a few months before this is reflected in m-commerce activity taking off according to Sony.
However, this does not mean that retailers are using the comparative lack of m-commerce to neglect mobile.
The study featured one retailer that developed its own algorithm to address paid search over mobile following mobile accounting for 10-15% of its total traffic.
This algorithm’s attribution modelling capability has meant that the company has grown its paid search business by 20% at a time when it estimates the market grew 2% overall according to the study.