European websites fail to make Chinese transition

The majority of European brand websites deliver a poor experience for Chinese users, new research reveals.

As many as 85% of European websites fail to load within 4.8 seconds – the amount of time deemed acceptable by Chinese consumers.

More than half (60%) of websites take up to five times longer for Chinese users to access.

The poor performance is having a damaging effect on brand reputation, leading to concerns over security and brand longevity.

It is also impacting revenues, with users immediately seeking alternative websites to make purchases, according to content delivery network provider CDNetworks wich carried out the study.

Many of the issues European brands face can be attributed to China’s ‘Golden Shield’ or ‘Great Firewall’ as it is otherwise known.

Its tendency to impact web searches, block content and occasionally make domains inaccessible, can cause unacceptably slow load times. Unless these challenges are anticipated and mitigated, they can have hugely damaging consequences.

Chinese users are also unsympathetic to the issues the Golden Shield creates and are losing patience with ongoing poor online performance.

Half of all Chinese users believe European brands should be capable of overcoming these challenges.

Sixty per cent admit to actively avoiding non-Chinese websites with 44% of Chinese users believing non-Chinese brand websites perform consistently worse than native equivalents.

Additional key findings include:

• While Chinese users expect a website to load in 4.82 seconds, the actual average load time of European brands’ websites in China is 33.1 seconds – almost seven times longer. After 24 seconds, Chinese users will give up on a website and look elsewhere.
Almost half of users surveyed had been frustrated by a non-Chinese brand’s website within the past 48 hours, with more than three quarters frustrated in the last week.
• For 85% of Chinese users, a poor performing website translates to other negative impacts on a brand’s reputation. More than half of Chinese users are worried a slow website is an insecure website (57%), with users also citing concerns over unreliability (19%), a brand’s longevity (17%) and that a brand does not value Chinese custom (17%).
• While almost a third of potential customers will immediately try an alternative website, 54% are less likely to visit a poorly performing website again, with 69% less likely to recommend the brand to friends.

CDNetworks EMEA managing director, Alex Nam, said: “The Chinese market represents a hugely lucrative opportunity for European brands eyeing global expansion.

“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.”

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