Who Hit Home Runs on Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2013?
Professional athletes are often thought of as money machines, but their combined salaries pale in comparison to licensed sports team t-shirt sales. The National Sporting Goods Association recently determined that sports logo apparel in the United States is at least an $8 billion industry annually. According to CNN Money, the NFL typically hauls in more than $2 billion alone each year.
Maybe because the baseball season is much longer, MLB-licensed gear is even more lucrative.
Right after the World Series, Yottaa took a look at a wide range of baseball merchandise sites and had some fun comparing the performance of product pages featuring the 8 teams that made the postseason. Of course, it was really the eCommerce sites competing and not the Red Sox and Cardinals duking it out a second time. But you humored us.
Here were the results of our 2013 eCommerce playoffs:
YOTTAA’S ORIGINAL BASEBALL WEBSITE STANDINGS (NOV. 2013)
- ShirtShovel.com (Pittsburgh Pirates)
- SullysBrand.com (Boston Red Sox)
- Fanatics.com (Detroit Tigers)
- Homage.com (Oakland A’s)
- Frankrupt.com(Los Angeles Dodgers)
- FansEdge.com(Atlanta Braves)
- FinishLine.com(St. Louis Cardinals)
- Shop.MLB.com(Tampa Bay Rays)
We just took those same product pages and monitored their speed and performance between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday using our Benchmark Tool.
BASEBALL MERCHANDISE SITES “IN THE CLUTCH” (Nov. 28-Dec. 2)
We measured the Time to Interact: how long it takes from when the customer clicks to the website until he or she can click, scroll or search as they begin to shop for their favorite teams.
The higher the points on the graph, the longer customers are waiting to see product pages – increasing the temptation to search for gifts elsewhere. You’ll notice the spiking red line (FinishLine.com) flirts with a 20-second wait more than once. With eCommerce, every second counts. Google discovered that a mere 500 millisecond (half second) delay in search time results in an average 20 percent drop in sales. (Read more on those calculations here.)
Ironically, FinishLine.com is last to the finish line with National League Champion Cardinals gear. It’s worth noting that many of the same items also can be found on MLB.com, FansEdge.com, and Fanatics.com.
Analyzing the Thanksgiving Weekend Performance
Let’s take a closer look at these sites. Times to Interact during Thanksgiving Weekend compared to how fast they delivered right after the World Series.
This is Yottaa’s “Traffic Light” chart, which is found on the Benchmark Tool page reporting your data (check out the sample Baseball Benchmark metrics for yourself).
Areas shaded in green reflect a superior web performance (top 25 percent of all websites). Yellow means needs improvement (middle 50 percent), while red indicates poor web performance.
Those few flashes of green are for Time to Title, how long it takes for the name of a website to show up in the browser bar. That’s important for immediately conveying the message to online shoppers that they are “on their way” to your store. Just as crucial for sales, Time to Interact reflects how soon customers can do what they came to do.
The most notable changes from the first time? MLB.com improved from last in engagement time to third place (20.16 to 8.32 seconds). There’s still plenty of room for improvement for MLB.com (69% of all websites are faster), especially given they are one of the first links fans see when they are on their home teams official sites.
But let’s focus on the biggest performance straggler here, FinishLine.com. When there was high baseball interest in the Cardinals, their Time to Interact was 10.25 seconds. Over the past week, it slowed to 14.41 seconds – even slower than slugger Prince Fielder down the first base line.
Here’s what the FinishLine site is selling: A sassy “Can’t Hit On Me” Cardinals women’s Tee:
This page load sample taken on Dec. 2 in Miami took a whopping 26 seconds.
And keep in mind ? it?s not just the size of a file that matters. A large number of assets, regardless of size, can significantly slow down a website.
The benchmark tool breaks down the load time of each of the 238 assets in a Waterfall Chart (learn more on how to read a waterfall here).
Request #113 is a Pinterest social media widget at the bottom of the FinishLine pages. Request #118 is a .png image of an email window (circled below) in which shoppers can sign up for a newsletter. Combined they contribute an additional 8.6 second delay to reach that coveted red line, the moment the site is fully interactive.
Taking The Next Step
Striving for the fastest page loading speed is not about bragging rights. A seamless user experience translates to sales and higher conversions. Customers should be focused on your products, not the behind-the-scenes reasons why your site is sluggish.