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UK businesses risk £36.7 billion due to website failures

New research reveals value of scalable, cloud-based load testing for businesses reliant on e-commerce

Newbury, UK, 30 June 2011

Businesses in the UK risk losing up to £36.7 billion in revenue per year if their websites fail during peak periods. That’s according to a new report by the UK tech firm Micro Focus (LSE: MCRO.L), the leading provider of enterprise application modernisation, testing and management solutions, and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), which found that nearly £100 million of British e-commerce revenue is already lost due to website failures and outages every year.

The report shows that the UK’s e-commerce industry is worth £320 billion per year and growing at an unprecedented rate of 20 per cent year-on-year. The market is likely to grow even faster in the next ten years, as the proliferation of smart phone usage fuels more online transactions, meaning they stand to lose significant revenue and market share to rival firms if their websites fail.

David Valentine, general manager at Micro Focus, comments: “As a result of website failures, almost £100 million of e-commerce revenue is already lost every year.  If businesses don’t ensure their e-commerce applications can handle the extra loads experienced during peak times, such as July and the run-up to Christmas, the cost could reach £36.7billion.

“Businesses must not only protect against this potential loss of revenue in the short term, but also protect their brand and reputation in the longer term by ensuring a better customer experience,” continues David Valentine. “Making sure that websites and the applications that run on them are tested for the highest volume of anticipated users has traditionally been expensive and difficult to manage but new, scalable cloud-based testing services make this much more cost-effective.”

Ensuring that e-commerce sites can withstand peak loads is a challenge because traffic can vary from 5,000 transactions per hour at normal times to 50,000 during a promotion or peak period. Online ticket retailers are particularly susceptible to fluctuations in demand, as demonstrated by recent website failures for the London 2012 Olympics and  Traditional approaches to load testing required a large investment in infrastructure to replicate the peak volumes, but Micro Focus’ cloud-based model removes the need for this overhead. Instead of investing in hardware that is not used for a large portion of the time, businesses can use Micro Focus SilkPerformer CloudBurst on demand to test for peak user volumes only when they need to.

Melinda-Carol Ballou at analyst firm IDC comments: “The potential to reduce costs and improve worker productivity is driving the adoption of testing-as-a-service cloud solutions.  Customers are seeking to decapitalise investments in IT and lower their support and implementation costs. In the context of e-commerce software and other business critical applications, it’s clear to see the business benefits of making performance testing more affordable and manageable.” 

SilkPerformer CloudBurst lets website and software quality teams rapidly launch any size peak-load performance test, from any location in the world, without the burden of managing complex infrastructures. When integrated with the SilkPerformer family it even lets IT teams test enterprise applications that have mixed internet and internal-facing aspects. As well as identifying potential problems, CloudBurst offers diagnostic tools that locate the root causes of performance issues and fast-track their correction.

The Statistics:

  • £320 billion per year: the size of the e-commerce market (based on B2B and B2C platforms)
  • £28 billion per year: the size of internet retail sales (£1 in every £10 spent comes via the internet rather than on the high street) 
  • One quarter: the proportion of large UK enterprises that gain revenues through online channels 
  • One fifth: the proportion of small and medium UK businesses that gain revenues through online channels 
  • £94.1million per year1: the amount of e-commerce revenue lost to the UK economy as a result of website failures 
  • £1.0 billion: the amount of online revenue that will be lost due to website failures by 2020 if the status quo remains 
  • £36.7 billion2: the revenue that stands to be lost each year if website failures occurred during peak periods 
  • July and the run up to Christmas (September to December): the peak periods that account for 11.6% of UK business’ annual e-commerce revenues. 
  • Testing-as-a-service is estimated to grow by over 33% each year between now and 2013, meaning that the market for cloud-based testing tools will reach over $700 million by 2013 (see here for more detail)


About Micro Focus

Micro Focus, a member of the FTSE 250, provides innovative software that allows companies to dramatically improve the business value of their enterprise applications. Micro Focus Enterprise Application Modernisation, Testing and Management software enables customers’ business applications to respond rapidly to market changes and embrace modern architectures with reduced cost and risk.

For additional information please visit the following links:

About CEBR

CEBR is an independent economics consultancy that provides macro and microeconomic research and advice to businesses across a range of sectors, including ICT, transport, energy, retail and property. CEBR undertakes quantitative research using a suite of computer modelling tools and qualitative methods.
For additional information please visit

1 This figure only accounts for revenue lost to businesses which transact via the internet. The greater the competition is in the e-commerce market, the larger the share of this revenue that can be recaptured. A less competitive market would mean that online businesses would risk losing market share to traditional high-street and non-internet-based businesses.
2 This figure is calculated based on the seasonal demand profile of internet retail sales published by the Office for National Statistics