With over half of the research respondents planning to do most of their Christmas shopping online, UK and US retailers stand to gain an enormous amount from this channel according to a new study from Rackspace® Hosting (RAX), the open cloud company.
The Rackspace study of the 4,000 UK and US adults, shows, however, that more than half (55 percent) of the shoppers surveyed experienced online frustrations last Christmas, with 44 percent of this group abandoning their purchase, and 34 percent trying a different website.
The top frustrations were cited as complicated check-out procedures (29 percent), followed by slow-loading websites (25 percent). This indicates that the share of the colossal Christmas purchase pudding each retailer will get is dependent on the online experience they provide customers.
Cloud-powered Christmas traditions
The Rackspace study also reveals that a massive 86 percent of respondents intend to buy at least some element of their Christmas online – from gifts (69 percent) to Christmas music and games (13 percent) and travel tickets to see family or friends (14 percent). This is often an evening pursuit for most users, with 52 percent planning to shop at home in the evenings.
Yet, going online this festive season is not just about shopping: it’s now a firm part of people’s Christmas traditions. Even on Christmas Day, 65 percent of respondents intend to go online to, for example, send season’s greetings to friends and family (31 percent) and / or post pictures of their celebrations (21 percent) using cloud-powered social media channels. Others will be playing online games (19 percent), surfing the web (17 percent) and / or watching on demand TV (12 percent). It’s a similar picture on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, with 62 percent going online.
A merry mobile Christmas
This year almost one-fifth (18 percent) of those surveyed will be shopping online using a tablet. This is a substantial increase from the 10 percent who shopped in this way last year. Similarly, smartphone usage for online purchases is up from 10 percent last year to 16 percent this year.
Three out of every ten UK and US adults (30 percent) are planning to give someone a connected device – such as a tablet or smartphone – for Christmas, and over a quarter (28 percent) are expecting to receive a connected device. Just under half (43 percent) will be giving a digital gift, with shopping vouchers most popular (30 percent).
John Engates, CTO Rackspace, said: “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. 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.”
Vital preparations for retailers and other businesses to undertake now include:
- Check and test capacity: To avoid website slowdown, e-tailers in particular should do a full audit of their web hosting environment to check if there is enough network connection and server space available to handle a high influx of web traffic. They should also ‘load’ test websites by flooding them with a large volume and variety of requests, from simpler tasks like landing on the home page to key word searches, filling up baskets and checking-out. With 44 percent of shoppers abandoning a purchase if they cannot quickly and easily use the website, e-tailers can’t afford for any system lag or unavailability.
- Get support: Peak traffic demands over the Christmas shopping period and beyond will probably not happen during a 9 to 5 working day. The study found that 52 percent of respondents will be shopping in the evenings, and 65 percent will be online on Christmas day. Retailers need to have appropriate support to keep their website up and running whenever it’s needed.
- Use a hybrid cloud: Testing may show that additional web capacity is required during high-traffic times. The public cloud is the ideal hosting environment for this as it offers unmatched scalability on a pay-as-you-go basis. Use it in combination with dedicated servers or private cloud in a ‘hybrid cloud’ to deliver optimal security, reliability and overall infrastructure performance.
- Keep improving: After peak season dies down, review the performance of your website, analyze any downtime or other performance issues, and use this to fix any issues. The majority (56 percent) of UK and US adults surveyed say that their main reason for shopping online is the convenience, so keeping it that way is crucial.
About the research:
The survey was conducted between the 21/10/2013 – 24/10/2013 by OnePoll. 2000 UK respondents were recruited online using screening questions to ensure that they celebrate Christmas before entering the survey.
The same process was carried out for 2000 respondents from the USA where we used our research partner to obtain the respondents from USA.
The full survey can be found here
Rackspace® (RAX) is the global leader in hybrid cloud and founder of OpenStack®, the open-source operating system for the cloud. Hundreds of thousands of customers look to Rackspace to deliver the best-fit infrastructure for their IT needs, leveraging a product portfolio that allows workloads to run where they perform best—whether on the public cloud, private cloud, dedicated servers, or a combination of platforms. The company’s award-winning Fanatical Support® helps customers successfully architect, deploy and run their most critical applications. Headquartered in San Antonio, TX, Rackspace operates data centers on four continents. Rackspace is featured on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For and placed 7th in ‘The Sunday Times Best Companies To Work For’ listing. For more information, visit www.rackspace.com.
This Press Release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. If such risks or uncertainties materialize or such assumptions prove incorrect, the results of Rackspace could differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements and assumptions. All statements other than statements of historical fact are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements, including any statements relating to expected or predicted behaviors of consumers and the impact of hybrid cloud; any statements of expectation or belief directly relating to Rackspace business derived from the survey results; and any statements of assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. Risks, uncertainties and assumptions include a substantial margin of error in the survey results, inconsistencies in respondent's understanding and Rackspace's analysis of survey questions and results, the possibility that expected benefits from any shift in consumer behavior may not materialize as expected; the achievement of expected operational results from any shift in consumer behavior; and other risks that are described in Rackspace Hosting's quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the third quarter 2013 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on November 11, 2013. Except as required by law, Rackspace assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements publicly, or to update the reasons actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements, even if new information becomes available in the future.
- Christmas traditions
Zuzana Bielikova, 00442087344043