Most Consumers Shop Online, Despite Frustrations

Despite running into frustrations when shopping online during the 2012 holiday season, more than half of U.S. and U.K consumers surveyed in a recent study reveal that they plan to do most of their holiday shopping online this year.


The Rackspace survey found that 55 percent of respondents experienced online frustrations last holiday season, with 44 percent of this group abandoning their purchase at some point and 34 percent trying a different website. The study shows that the top frustrations were cited as complicated check out procedures (29 percent) and slow-loading websites (25 percent).


Despite those frustrations, 86 percent of the survey respondents intend to purchase at least some element of their Christmas online, with 69 percent purchasing gifts, 13 percent purchasing holiday music and games and 14 percent purchasing travel tickets to visit family or friends. According to the data, 52 percent of the respondents plan on making their purchases in the evenings, which means that retailers must have their sites prepared to handle in influx of traffic.


That said, the study also sheds light on mobile's impact on the holidays, with 18 percent of respondents claiming they will shop online using a tablet, which is a significant increase from last year's 10 percent. Moreover, smartphone usage for online purchases also grew from 10 percent to 16 percent this year.


Further data suggests that the Internet has been intertwined into holiday traditions and is no longer just used as a way to shop. For example, 65 percent of respondents intend to go online on Christmas Day, with 31 percent planning to send greetings to friends and family and 21 percent going online to post pictures of their celebrations using cloud-powered social media channels. In addition, 19 percent will go online to play games, 17 percent will surf the Web and 12 percent will watch on demand TV.


"Our study suggests that this may be the most connected Christmas ever. This means that all businesses with an online presence - not just retailers - need to ensure they have the hosting infrastructure and support in place to deal with inevitable traffic peaks over the entire festive season," says John Engates, CTO Rackspace. "Imagine the frustration if you are unable to shop at a certain website before Christmas, or use an app with your brand new tablet on Christmas Day. With so much to gain or lose over the festive season, it's high time for businesses to ensure that such frustrations do not become unwelcome Christmas traditions."


According to Rackspace, online businesses (especially Internet retailers) should get prepared for the holidays by checking and testing their site's capacity in order to avoid slow sites during peak times. Plus, businesses should put support in place so that their site stays up and running throughout the entire season regardless of traffic numbers. The company also suggests that businesses consider increasing Web capacity with the public cloud in order to deliver better reliability. After the season is over, however, businesses should not overlook analyzing the performance of their site. By doing this, performance issues can be recognized and fixed immediately.