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05/19/2017

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Speed is King Arthur Flour’s Recipe for Success

King Arthur Flour |

Last updated on June 1st, 2017

King Arthur Flour’s mobile conversion rate increases 15% after speeding up its site.

A fast website provides more than just a better shopping experience for consumers—it will also boost conversion rates—especially on mobile devices.

Just ask Mike Hoefer, director of web development at King Arthur Flour, who’s seen this firsthand.

The baking goods retailer recently decided to upgrade its site so it would load faster on desktop and mobile devices. King Arthur Flour employed website performance vendor Yottaa for the task instead of using its typical four-person in-house tech team of developers and engineers.

“Previously we were doing it all ourselves on our own server,” Hoefer says. “We weren’t able to have the sophistication, the same level of advance technology that a provider like Yottaa offers.”

The retailer has Yottaa store the static content of Kingarthurflour.com, which is about 80% of the website, on Yottaa’s servers which are dispersed across the country. Static content is everything on the site that is not personalized for a consumer, such as the product listings. If a consumer located in Chicago went to Kingaruthurflour.com, instead of the browser calling the site from King Arthur’s servers at its headquarters in Vermont, the browser will call the cached site from a nearby Yottaa server. Having the server physically close to the consumer speeds up the site, Hoefer says.

For the site’s dynamic content, such as a shopping cart and checkout pages, the site will still have to be routed through King Arthur’s servers.

In a four-week A/B test, in which half of King Arthur Flour’s traffic was filtered through Yottaa’s servers and half was routed normally through the retailer’s own servers, the conversion rate for the Yottaa-routed traffic was 8.8% higher across all devices than the traditionally-routed traffic, and the tablet and smartphone conversation rate was 15% higher for the Yottaa traffic.

“Customer experience is the reason we did this, and e-commerce conversion rate improvement, that’s the hard ROI,” Hoefer says.

In that same A/B test, King Arthur Flour’s pages fully loaded 20% faster compared to not having the site cached, across all devices. The time it took for a page to start loading was also 36% faster across all devices, Hoefer says. More than 50% of King Arthur Flour’s traffic comes from a smartphone or tablet, and 25% of sales are made via a smartphone or tablet, he says.

Since fully implementing the cached traffic, the improved conversion rate and performance has remained strong, Hoefer says.

“We’ve had a strong holiday period, and conversion rates have continued to be strong for us,” says Hoefer, who attributes the holiday increase partially to the faster site. He did not disclose sales.

Speeding up the site was a large investment for King Arthur Flour, Hoefer says. The retailer signed a two-year, six-figure commitment with Yottaa, he says. King Arthur Flour pays Yottaa monthly based roughly on traffic sent to the Yottaa servers. It took about two months to implement these performance improvements, including the four-week testing period, Hoefer says.

King Arthur Flour this year also  updated its recipe content page. The e-retailer added more images and  social media sharing buttons, and put together guides, such as Christmas cookie decorating tips. Consumers viewing recipes accounts for 60% of the site’s traffic, or about 40 million page views, he says.  Each recipe has multiple images, so King Arthur Flour has 10,000-15,000 images for the recipes. With the new system, Yottaa caches all those images and keeps them at the ready.

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