By Chloe Rigby

Retailers need to tackle the speed and downtime of their websites in order to provide customers with the online experience that they now demand, two new studies suggest.

Some 40% of UK retailer websites experience downtime during seasonal peaks, according to a new study from Cogeco Peer 1.

Meanwhile, a study from NCC Group suggests that website speed is slowing.

Cogeco Peer 1 asked more than 100 UK ecommerce decision makers about their challenges around peak trading. Some 48% said they did not feel completely ready for seasonal peaks in website traffic, while 58% said they faced page speed issues during peaks between 2016 and 2017.

“Retailers and brands are facing considerable challenges when selling online: from how to compete with the likes of Amazon and how social media is transforming shopping; to harnessing the power of automation and maintaining a uniform, effective online presence 24/7,” said Susan Bowen, vice president and general manager, EMEA at Cogeco Peer 1. “The figures in the study highlight the need for UK retailers to act if they are to take full advantage of the revenue opportunities available during seasonal peak spending periods [worth more than £7bn in 2016].”

The report comes against the backdrop of 2016 findings from PwC and the Local Data Company that 2,656 physical stores closed on Britain’s high streets in the first half of the year – equivalent to 15 a day, and up from 14 a day in 2015. That trend towards fewer stores, says Bowen, makes technology a critical part of successful retailing.

“Struggles during Easter can be a powerful indicator that this technology is creaking under the strain and holding retailers back during the biggest spending weekends of the year. It’s a tough question, but retailers all over the country need to…