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We have an eCommerce industry to be proud of, but we could be hitting a brick wall

While the UK remains the third largest eCommerce market in the world – the biggest in Europe – its lagging broadband speed is blocking further growth.
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Cable.co.uk released a report which placed the UK in 31st position in terms of broadband speed. This finding, according to Andy Burton, CEO of Tryzens, could have an adverse effect on the eCommerce market.

The nation finds itself behind 19 other European countries with an average broadband speed of 16.51Mbps. Sweden, the highest of said countres, enjoys 40.16Mbps. While it places second in the world for its fast Internet, nothing compares to ovrall leader Singapore, which reigns supreme with a speed of 55.13Mbps.

It’s quite the paradox, Burton opines. “We’re an eCommerce powerhouse. Traffic keeps growing even while high street footfall is slowing. So why are we lagging so far behind on the global connectivity scale?

“The average speed for the UK is now slower than many of the minimum speed deals offered by broadband companies to consumers, so something needs to be done by the government to make this more of a priority.”

Its importance, he argued, is made clear through another report – this time by IMRG. It claims mobile shopping has become part and parcel of our daily lives. By the end of 2016, online retail sales from smart devices reached 53 per cent. That growth is unlikely to stop there. Also, Google and the BRC reported that retail-related searches went up to 26 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2017.

“Having a reliable, fast and robust connectivity infrastructure to support this growth is now critical,” Burton expained. “We need to be able to support ‘Generation Consumer’ and retailers want the underlying technological support to be able to advance ways of shopping, embrace omnichannel and mobile strategies and leverage the sophisticated technology of eCommerce into stores to boost the single view of the customer.

“How can we expect exciting developments like augmented reality and enhanced in-store experiences to perform and succeed when the UK is continually blighted by slow connections, latency and so-called WiFi ‘not spots’?

“Until we can take a more serious approach to improving UK broadband speeds, retailers must prioritise the performance of websites, mobile sites and apps to compensate, making sure speeds have the least possible impact on users – and ultimately, conversions.”

Burton added: “To negate where speeds are below par, retailers need to optimise eCommerce sites, ensuring robustness and an ability to adapt to changing pressures and competing forces. In the age of mobile shopping, a ‘mobile first’ approach when developing or enhancing an eCommerce presence is fast becoming the benchmark – ensuring that mobile sites and apps are ergonomically designed for the user, and are lightweight in terms of load times and checkout steps.

“We have an eCommerce industry to be proud of in the UK, but infrastructure weaknesses mean we could potentially be hitting a brick wall when we upscale the exciting innovations we have ahead of us. Through effective optimisation, retailers can work around connectivity limitations, and ensure we uphold our reputation for a nation of stoic online shoppers.”

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/6G73ZGQ

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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