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Performance

E-Commerce Flower Shoppers Encounter Slow Websites

Valentine's Rose
Imagine for a moment the clichéd Valentine’s day emergency: a hurried, last minute scramble to grab a gift, which features frantic Internet searches for inspiration, and usually ends in a simple gesture like flowers or chocolate.

That’s why eCommerce sites for florists can’t rely on steady traffic in the weeks leading up to February 14th. Boyfriends, husbands, sons, daughters, and friends of all kinds will rush to the computer by the thousands on the 12th, 13th, and even 14th to order flowers. In fact, it is predicted that 1/5th of all flower customers will buy online, and those that do will probably choose from one of the five most visible flower websites: Teleflora.com, 1800Flowers.com, FTD.com, Proflowers.com, or Floristexpress.net. These major flower sites must be ready for the traffic spike if they are to capitalize on their biggest holiday of the year.

Furthermore, due to competition these websites not only need to handle a flood of traffic without crashing, but need to go above and beyond by having fast page load times and a great user experience. A Google search for nearly any flower-related keyword currently brings up 11 or more paid search results for flower websites, meaning that potential customers wont have any trouble finding a competitor if their first choice is annoyingly slow to load.

Our Benchmark 

With all this on the line, we wanted to find out which of these five flower websites is best disposed to handle the V-day traffic. Among other metrics we used Yottaa Score, a compilation of website performance factors that measures how fast a website loads from dozens of locations around the world. Our benchmark showed some pretty drastic differences.

 

Yottaa Website Monitoring - Performance of Ecommerce Sites - Flowers

Yottaa Website Monitoring – Performance of E-commerce Sites – Florists

The winner in overall Yottaa score, Floristexpress.net, was a bit of a surprise to us.  Last year when we
analyzed flower websites on Mothers’ Day, this site was not noticeable enough to be included.  This year, however, we noticed a lot of paid search results leading to the site, so we included them in the benchmark.  We found that it was significantly faster than the others!  Its “time to interact” – the final stage in the loading process – was consistently faster than all other sites.   What kept it from having a Yottaa Score higher than 63 seems to have been its erratic load times in other locations around the world, what we call “global reachability.”

Teleflora made a splash in this year’s Super Bowl, with an ad starring a seductive Adriana Lima.  The ad was a departure from the company’s first Super Bowl effort in 2009, which went for a starkly humorous approach.  But despite the fact that their ad was much more visible (and saucier) than any of their flower selling competitors’, the site’s performance was just average.  It was not the worst of the Super Bowl advertisers?

it didn’t crash or seriously slow down that night – nor is it the worst of the flower sellers.  But with a Yottaa score of 32 it is in the middle of the pack by rank and well below the average score of  41.  That score is in keeping with its scores for the past 2 weeks, generally in the 30’s.

Asset Count

Asset Count (1800Florist.com in Purple)
At the bottom of the ranking is 1800 Flowers, a brand familiar to this writer because the site’s ads have been appearing on my Amazon Kindle for the past month.  Its slow page load times could be linked to the one major differentiator found in our benchmark: the site has FAR more assets than any other.  Generally, more assets means a slower site, and loading nearly 200 assets all but assures that 1800 Flowers would not be a fast site for anyone.

Does It All Matter?

Of course it does. eCommerce websites need to be fast in order to achieve success in metrics like conversion rate and order size.  We don’t know yet how these sites will come out of the Valentine’s Day season in terms of business success, but it is certain that each of them, especially the bottom three, could have achieved better metrics and better marketing ROI if they’d had better performance.

Plus, think of all the time lost in office day productivity caused by slow flower websites. If you are a manager, you should hope that your employees were using Floristexpress.net!

Photo Courtesy of Dennis Mojado.

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