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Web sites have 30 seconds to perform

A survey has underscored the fragility of online brand loyalty

Most people are unwilling to wait more than 30 seconds for a Web site to load before taking their custom to a rival online store, research has found.

A study by Tickbox found 89.5 percent of survey respondents would go to a competing store if their preferred Web site was down.

Mike Tobin, chief executive of hosting company TelecityRedbus, which commissioned the study, said the Internet is giving customers more reasons to shop around.

He said: "Online brand loyalty is so fragile. You have to be really on the ball if you want to do anything that creates brand loyalty. You have to make sure your foundations are right."

The vast majority (85 percent) of the 2,000 people surveyed said downtime has an adverse effect on a business' reputation.

Tobin added: "A company's Web site being down for 10 minutes is no longer a short-term problem. By having an unavailable or slow-loading Web site, a company is missing out on future revenue from frustrated consumers."

The top three reasons to move to an alternative Web site were poor customer service (70.8 percent), slow loading time (68.9 percent) and non-delivery on items ordered (68.5 percent).