Online retailers have made a lot of progress in the past year, increasing conversions, sales and customer satisfaction rates in the 2009 holiday season. But that doesn’t mean that consumers are happy with the online shoping experience. According to a survey from performance monitoring company Gomez, 1/3 of consumers had a poor online shopping experience during the 2009 holiday shopping season.

More problematic for retailers is the fact that consumers couldn’t care less about the increased pressures that retailers are under during these times. Of those surveyed, 88% of consumers who have a bad experience on a website during peak hours may never come back.

According to the Gomez survey, which surveyed 1,538 people, a majority of consumers spend a significant amount of their budget during peak times (51%). Gomez classified peak periods seasonally, including the holiday season, Valentine’s Day, and back to school.

And considering that consmers are spending so much of their money during “peak hours,” they have little sympathy for what retailers have to deal with when delivering their services. That means 67% expect websites to work well regardless of how many people are using it.

But that’s not what they’re experiencing. 72% experienced slower websites more frequently during peak times. And though slow websites appear to be a pretty common occurence, consumers aren’t willing to silently accept it.

Of those who have dealt with poor performance on an e-commerce site,
88% are less likely to come back. 78%
after experiening poor performance during peak traffic hours. 47% leave with a negative impression
of the company and 42% go so far as to discuss it with friends.

The most common problems were slow pages (72%), errors on web pages (58%) and problems finishing transactions (51%).

Shoppers who are spending high percentages of their shopping budget during busy shopping periods are increasingly impatient about ease of use of issues. Gomez suggests a few options for handling website performance during busy periods, namely testing for scalability, response time and reliability as well as giving consumers a venue for reactions. But whatever the means, it’s clear that in 2010, consumers expect the online shopping experience to be non-brutish and short. Getting there might take some extra work, but when people are trying to give you money, you should be doing everything you can to make it as easy as possible.

Image: Gomez