Staples, Amazon Do Poorly In U.K. Web Comparison

A Web site performance survey from the U.K.'s Retail Bulletin shows the larger, better known sites—including Staples, Amazon and Laura Ashley—delivering much weaker Web performances than sharply smaller rivals.

"What is surprising is that the top 15 sites are typically much less reliant on the Internet for their revenues than the bottom 15," said Lawrence Shaw, founder of Sitemorse, which co-created the study. "If the table was reversed, then it would make more sense." Of the 98 companies tracked, the worst 10 also included Dixons, Currys and The top 10 included Matalan, Vision Express, DFS, Morrisons and Tesco Direct.

Shaw said he was surprised that some of the key players "deliver consistently poor performances in the tests." He gave as an example a sales campaign from Carphone Warehouse, "which highlights mobile Internet and gives only its Web site as a point on contact. But its site achieves only 2.60 marks out of 10, so it is not a great advert for the company."

Much of the testing looks at Web fundamentals including broken links, missing images and title inclusion, but it also factored in accessibility for visually impaired site visitors.

"Probably one of the most surprising poor performers is the Co-op, which fails all the accessibility tests," Shaw said. "The Co-op focuses on ethical policies and supporting communities, but every page fails the tests, which is not very good."