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Gone in less than 60 seconds 4New research reveals the majority of online consumers are unprepared to stick around when a website is suffering an outage 

Q&A with Jake Madders, Director at Hyve Managed Hosting 

What impact is downtime having on consumer trends in the UK?

It’s never been easier to purchase goods and services online, and both the convenience and ease of online shopping dominate buyer behaviour. However, although this demand is good news for online retailers, they must ensure they are providing a service that is highly available if they want to attract and retain consumers. Research conducted by Hyve has shown that 42% of consumers would move to a competitors’ website after less than a minute if their go-to brand suffered an outage, with 34% prepared to wait no longer than 30 seconds in those circumstances. As it’s easier for consumers to ‘shop around’ online, these findings show businesses not only need to be price sensitive but it’s clear there is a priority to ensure their site is highly available as consumers are unprepared to wait if a website is suffering downtime.

How common is downtime a problem within e-commerce? 

It is more common than it should be and it also isn’t exclusive to smaller retailers, this can impact even the biggest brands if their infrastructure isn’t designed specifically for appropriate scaling. In the past 12 months over one-third (38%) of UK consumers have been unable to access a company’s website, with nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents experiencing this situation more than once. This typically occurs when retailers fail to manage traffic spikes correctly, and over one-fifth (21%) of UK consumers surveyed reported being unable to access a website to buy a newly launched product or service in the past 12 months. This is incredibly frustrating for online consumers that are looking to secure the latest fashion items or tickets to events and provides a poor user experience. 

Is this a problem that is exclusive to e-commerce or are other industries also struggling with downtime? 

An outage can be caused by a number of things such an influx of traffic, malicious attacks, bad code or hardware failure. Any of these factors can result in downtime for any website or hosted application, so must be avoided at all costs. With the digital commerce industry constantly evolving, e-commerce is on the frontline of this battle, and maintaining a stable e-commerce site is crucial to ensuring income is not lost due to consumers shopping elsewhere. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are key examples of high traffic shopping days that can test the resolve of retailers, and it is important for them to have the ability to scale quickly to manage traffic spikes effectively and meet the influx of website visitors on these occasions. 

Most notably outside of e-commerce, energy providers experienced downtime earlier this year due to their customers’ trying to log-on and submit their meter readings before a deadline they had been given. This is a prime example of when systems don’t have the ability to scale quickly and meet peaks in demand – the result is often downtime, leaving customs disgruntled.  

What can be done to ensure online services are highly available and mitigate the risk of downtime in these scenarios? 

Business leaders and IT teams will be concerned to see the appetite amongst consumers to move to their rivals, but they can take simple steps to mitigate the risk of downtime. Those that get caught out are typically totally reliant on a single public cloud provider, which means they are responsible for anticipating and scaling themselves with DevOps and automation in-house, which can be an arduous task. For any business looking to manage traffic spikes at critical times more effectively, the answer is to either diversify risk by using multiple providers or to partner with a local managed service provider to ensure this is taken care of. 

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