Insight: EU sites load too slowly for Chinese buyers

Around 85 per cent of European websites trading in China load too slowly for local consumers’ tastes, according to a new report from CDNetworks.

Its new paper, European websites are letting Chinese users down, suggests that Chinese consumers expect a website to launch with 4.8 seconds – but that 85 per cent of European websites fail to meet that target.

In fact, it says, the brands it has studied have an average load time of 33.1 seconds – almost seven times longer than the ideal, and longer than the 24 seconds impatient shoppers are prepared to wait. Some 60 per cent of websites take up to five times longer for users to access.
As a result, 60 per cent of Chinese users say they avoid non-Chinese websites, and 44 per cent believe that non-Chinese websites perform consistently worse than their domestic equivalents.

CDNetworks says that many of the issues can be put down to China’s Golden Shield – also known as the Great Firewall of China. It can slow web searches, block content and occasionally makes domains inaccessible, making load times unacceptably low. But local shoppers in China are unsympathetic to this: 85 per cent say a poor performing website reflects badly on a brand, and 57 per cent are concerned that a slow website is insecure. Some 17 per cent said they were concerned that a brand whose website loads slowly does not value Chinese custom, 19 per cent that it is unreliable, and 17 per cent that it will not be around for long.

“The Chinese market represents a hugely lucrative opportunity for European brands eyeing global expansion,” says Alex Nam, managing director of content delivery network CDNetworks EMEA, which specialises in web performance in China. “A reliable and powerful online identity plays a critical role in establishing core brand values and making a positive first impression. Too many European brands are falling short of achieving this and will find it very difficult to recover negative perceptions without fully understanding how to navigate the complexities of delivering a positive online experience to Chinese users. The financial rewards for getting it right are significant.”

The study analysed the load speeds of 1,780 websites that were members of German, British, Italian, Danish, French and Swedish associations for businesses trading in China. It questioned 484 Chinese web users, aged 18 or over, on their views and attitudes to Chinese and European websites.