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Mother's Day 2012 - Online Retailers Performance Monitoring

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Posted on May 16th, 2012 by Lily Grozeva in Tech

Wee have been tracking the performance of online retailers around Mother’s day for the past 5 years. Being a day to celebrate mothers and motherhood, it is also a week of trials and perils for online retailers. High demand for flowers and gifts is exceedingly high one week prior to Mother’s Day and can cause many website to function outside of their parameters. Each year, our goal is to measure the performance and availability of selected retailers by executing full online shopping customer transactions, thus simulating the user experience.

This year was particularly interesting because of the significantly higher online demand for service and products. Notice the spike in 2012. Search for mother’s day gifts are through the roof. We bring you attention to this fact so that you could take into account the higher overall demand, when looking at the results.

Interest over time

Notice the spike in 2012

Performance Monitoring Methodology

For the purpose of the report we use fullpage web transaction, simulating end users' engagement with the monitored websites. The reporting period covers a significant period of time, prior to the holiday and Mother’s Day. Website performance and availability measurements are scheduled for the most common web transactions at 15 minute monitoring intervals. The WebSitePulse application monitoring service is used to collect data and to create the reports. Average response time and website uptime are measure from San Francisco, Chicago and Washington. Average totals are then calculated and presented.

Results from 2011

In order to make sense of the current results, let’s look back to the results from 2011. Our Mother’s Day 2011 report was the most noxious one to date. Total average response time varied between 14.118 and 29.996 seconds, depending on the location and website. ftd.com, one of the retailers we monitored, was online 100% of the time, yet it took ~30 seconds to serve its visitors. Those sites could have really done better. Full list of results is available here. We have been performing the same tests since 2008. In all previous years the sites performed considerably better, with response time averages below 4 seconds.

Response time on Mother's Day 2011

Results from 2012

This year we had better results than those from 2011.Considering the constantly increasing demand for online services, it would be safe to say this year the sites performed considerable better than last year, even though not as well as previous years. This year uptime was hardly an issue for any of the monitored online retailers. Looking at the average response time for the entire test period (05.05.2012 – 05.12.2012), we can see that our new entries are performing formidably well. Results are getting better across the board. You can see how even ftd.com and teleflora.com are able to keep up, despite the higher demand. According to the table, businesses are taking measure to make sure that they are able to meet the demand.

Response time on Mother's Day 2012

Conclusion

According to our test, fromyouflowers.com outperformed all other sites without any downtime. Sees.com did particularly well in San Francisco but it had the worse uptime of all websites. 95.686% is a lot.

Online business is never predictable. Often demand and resources don’t match, and it is particularly harmful for a business not to be able to serve its clients. In many cases, being proactive is the key to overcome future problems with your website. Not being able to provide your content never goes unpunished in peak moments.  Regular maintenance, optimized code, a lot of performance tests, and remote server monitoring can be just as valuable as a good product, friendly customer service and affordable prices. We really expect to measure an improvement in 2013. This year’s results are good and it is clear that retailers have been busy improving their sites.

Lily Grozeva

An SEO from tip to toe, Lily is cleverly disguised as a fun human being. Loves SEO (apparently) and London. Preferably SEO conferences in London.

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