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Next year will see the end of Web 2.0 and the demise of the high street, SciVisum forecasts

19, December 2007 – Web 2.0, one of the major online trends of 2007, will meet its end in 2008 according to leading UK web testing company SciVisum, and rising online revenues will signal the demise of high street retailers. As part of its predictions for e-commerce in 2008, SciVisum cites the main drivers for Web 2.0’s decline as the exponential growth in the number of User Generated Content (UGC) websites facing a backlash from cautious advertisers not wanting their brand to appear in front of unsuitable content.

“2008 is set to be a watershed year for e-commerce. Consumers and companies will continue to adopt a nomadic attitude towards Web 2.0 websites flocking to the ‘next big thing’, until the market becomes so saturated consumers will actually be turned off them,” said Deri Jones, CEO, SciVisum.

“But just as significantly, it will also be the year that high street revenues start to decline. Because of this, retailers will focus on eliminating the background problems that currently plague their websites and negatively impact sales. Those that don’t will die with the high street,” added Jones.

SciVisum has identified three further areas it says will revolutionise e-commerce operations in 2008.

HIGH STREET DYING
Each year we see significant increases in the amount of online spending. The latest Government figures show that online spending reached £130bn in 2006 (Office for National Statistics) – a growth of 29 per cent. This figure is forecast to rapidly increase to £162bn by 2020 (Uswitch). High street retailers that have good eCommerce platforms in place are thriving and are able to take advantage of the cultural shift in the way we shop. Those that haven’t will either make the change this year or disappear. The dramatic fall in share prices for companies in the retail property sector – British Land’s by 40 per cent in 12 months (*1) and Land Securities by more than 30 per cent (*2) - is heralding the death knoll for the high street.

LOST ONLINE SALES RECOVERED
Online competitive pressure will intensify for all firms, regardless of industry. To continue to be profitable in this tougher environment, companies will be forced to review and tighten up their e-commerce operations to achieve maximum return on investment (ROI).

Recent research from SciVisum found that one third of consumer online journeys experience more than three per cent error rates, and more than ten per cent suffer from extreme inconsistencies in delivery speed of the journey. These invisible errors impact two to five per cent of journeys, but are invisible to web analytics and web logging because they are sporadic.

Slow and inconsistent page speeds, or errors that throw the user back three pages and mean they have to re-enter their basket items, pushes customers to competitors. In 2008 firms will focus more resources on eliminating the sporadic errors that impact a user-journey to ensure that marketing and advertising investment spent in attracting customers to the site is not wasted.

BUSINESS BACK IN CONTROL
2008 will see corporate personnel take ownership of their company’s e-commerce activities. Because of this change at the top, their will be a shift in the performance metrics used to assess websites.

SciVisum’s own research found that it is business and marketing personnel that are most aware when there is an issue with their website. However, business personnel have historically been fobbed off by the IT department’s use of irrelevant data and metrics that indicate the site is performing well from a metrics perspective. In 2008 we will see business people push back when this occurs, only accepting data that is relevant to the user experience.

Where sales figures used to be enough, the head of the website next year will be demanding hard metrics that provide an accurate picture of the user journey and highlight any issues that may be being experienced. The hard metrics demanded will enable a more informed choice about which remedy will deliver the best ROI, and will mean that the IT department no longer pushes for an upgrade to Microsoft SQL server 200x when there is an option to fix a one per cent sporadic error.

NET NEUTRALITY DECLINES
Increased fears over global bandwidth shortages will enable Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to charge a significant tax for organisations that currently offer video download services for free. These charges will in turn be passed onto the user, based upon the amount of content they download, and will lead to the decline of net neutrality - the principle that data on the Internet is moved blindly and impartially, without regard to content, destination or source.

The assertion by US research firm, Nemertes Research, that user demand may outpace network capacity by 2010 (*3) will not materialise. However, we will increasingly see opinions that this will occur and the fear that demand will exceed capacity will enable the ISPs to act.

-ends-

Notes to editors

- (*1) http://markets.ft.com/tearsheets/news.asp?s=BLND%3ALSE
- (*2) http://markets.ft.com/tearsheets/performance.asp?s=LAND%3ALS...
- (*3) http://www.nemertes.com


About SciVisum
SciVisum is a UK based web site testing specialist, helping clients to reduce lost sales online by identifying where and when user experience suffers.

The services provide vital data not available by web-analytics or other web monitoring:

- when invisible errors impact users but are invisible to the in-house teams
- when wrong or missing page content forces users to abandon their purchase journeys
- what % of marketing campaign traffic is lost due to under-capacity in one or more vital steps such as 'add to basket' or 'checkout' pages.

The company's services measure the performance and functionality of client's business-critical on-line systems. Using the multi-page User Journeys approach to measurement, SciVisum’s metrics provide real time KPIs and act as a common language between the business and marketing teams who work daily with journey concepts of Add-to-Basket, Checkout, Register, pay-online, login and etc; and the web technical teams who need precise input as to which step of which journey is under-performing, when and how, in order for them to most effectively apply technical resources to close the problem gaps.

Through SciVisum's testing and recommendations, clients are able to substantially increase visitor rates and customer satisfaction levels by achieving gains in key journey delivery times, increasing ability to handle peak load levels, and reducing sporadic but user-numbing error rates of 1 to 5% that most sites un-wittingly force on their users.

Clients come from a wide range of sectors and include Tesco, Boden, T-Mobile, Virgin Retail, Shell, Jessops, Gold Medal Travel, Ann Summers, Hertfordshire Council, Premium Bonds, Scottish & Southern Energy, BDO Stoy Hayward, National Savings and Investment Bank and uSwitch.

Test deliverables include:
SV-Monitor: 24/7 measurement of customer experience by User Journey
SV-Load: Load testing /Stress testing of User Journeys
SV-Access: Accessibility testing to the WAI guidelines
SV-Function: Functionality & troubleshooting audits and consultancy on web performance

Media contact:
Sam Grace/ Stephen Waddington
Rainier PR
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7494 6570
Email: sgrace@rainierpr.co.uk/swaddington@rainierpr.co.uk

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