Study: Leading Retail Sites Slow to Adopt AJAX

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Print this article Print


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Most online retailers aren't adopting AJAX development techniques yet, according to a recent study conducted by Brulant.

According to a recent survey of more than 200 online retailers, less than 20 percent of them are using Asynchronous JavaScript and XML techniques to build out their sites, and only about 6 percent use advanced AJAX techniques.

The survey, conducted by Brulant, an online systems solutions building and marketing company, during October and November of 2006, showed that many top retailers—including Ace Hardware, AutoZone, Bed Bath & Beyond, Books a Million, Circuit City Stores and Eddie Bauer—are not using AJAX on their Web sites. Retailers that are using AJAX include Abercrombie & Fitch, Amazon.com, Blockbuster, Crate and Barrel, and Gap.

The Brulant study examined the policies of 115 leading online retailers over their use of both "simple" and "advanced" AJAX development. For the purposes of the study, simple AJAX was defined as when AJAX technology is used to retrieve additional product details prompted by hovering or clicking a quick-view link. Advanced AJAX was defined as when AJAX technology is used in the overall shopping experience to provide additional product detail information such as scrolling marketing spots and to add to cart functionality.

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19.3 percent of study respondents said they have been using simple AJAX, and 6.1 percent said they were using advanced AJAX development.

Brulant officials said the methodology used to validate the use of AJAX included visiting the sites and testing various methods of category and product navigation, adding items to carts, and the start of the checkout process. Also, the command "view source" was used to look for known AJAX tool kits or any custom-built rich Internet applications.

"AJAX is arguably the best rich Internet application available to developers right now, but its complexity and the disruption to traditional development processes [seem] to be hindering the widespread adoption predicted by many experts," said Mark Fodor, a partner with Brulant, in Beachwood, Ohio.

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However, he said, "AJAX has the ability to vastly improve the customer's online experience, and the benefits of implementing AJAX in terms of customer satisfaction and conversion rates are argument enough for its implementation."

Fodor concluded, "Developers are suspicious of anything that they perceive as 'hype.' Add to this massive confusion about which AJAX solutions to use at what level, and how many, and you've got a situation where adoption is happening at a much slower pace. The [result] is that companies are missing out on the benefits at a pretty high opportunity cost."

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Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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