Women won't wait for the net

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The Independent Online
WOMEN are generally regarded as being the more patient sex, but when it comes to shopping on the internet they are the first to get frustrated.

Those delays that plague the downloading of the simplest of files are causing women to abandon internet shopping and hit the high street, according to a new survey from InfoLibria, which helps internet service providers develop their websites.

The news is guaranteed to dismay those retailers that are plunging hundreds of thousands of pounds into developing websites.

The majority of these are focusing on the lucrative female market, with the launch of new sites such as Handbag.com. However, they could be wasting their money if half of all internet users see delays as a barrier to shopping on the internet.

"At a time when people are cash rich but time poor, any delays in downloading high quality information are clearly increasingly intolerable," said Dr David Lewis, author of Information Overload - Practical Strategies for Surviving in Today's Workplace.

InfoLibria's study reveals that shoppers would buy more if it were a quicker process. Some 50 per cent will only wait two minutes before moving to another site. One in seven are more impatient; giving up in 30 seconds or less.

Companies such as InfoLibria are working to solve the problem. "We are taking the speed bumps out of the internet," said David Griffiths, managing director of InfoLibria's European operations. "We can make internet access up to 10 times faster, in some cases 100 times faster."

The firm has developed a process known as cacheing, which pre-loads some of the information.

Even if your computer is fast, one of the potential pitfalls of internet shopping is whether the supplier can deliver. "The future of online retailing will depend on how good firms are at fulfilling orders," says Richard Hyman, head of Verdict, a research firm.

"Most of them haven't got a clue. That is why many of them will fail. The chance of e-retailers getting it right is very small."