Did Retailers Show Mom Love With Online User Experience?
In this edition of SmartBear Software's ROI Report column, The Retailer Web Performance Report Card, I looked at the website performance of the top 50 retailers with Mother's Day in mind. With the help of SmartBear's AlertSite, I reviewed website response times and availability percentages from May 1 to May 14, highlighting numbers posted by 1-800-Flowers.com, Williams-Sonoma and J.C. Penney.
According to the National Retail Federation, consumers planned to spend an average of $168.94 on mom this Mother's Day, up 11 percent from last year's $152.52. Total spending was expected to reach $20.7 billion. Flowers were expected to account for $2.3 billion, with clothing or clothing accessories accounting for $1.7 billion. Nearly three in 10 (28.5 percent) Americans planned to buy gifts online, up from 25.6 percent last year.
As the percentage of consumers buying online continues to steadily increase each year, I'd expect the emphasis put on website performance by retailers would also increase. Let's see how our highlighted retailers performed for Mother's Day shoppers.
The benchmark average for response time among the top 50 retailers during the first half of May was 4.0996 seconds, an improvement over last month's average of 4.4393 seconds. The benchmark average for availability was 99.45 percent, down slightly from 99.56 percent in April. Response time for 1-800-Flowers.com was 5.466 seconds, ranking it No. 42, up from No. 44 last month. The floral retailer ranked No. 19 in availability at 99.9 percent, up from No. 42 last month. So while 1-800-Flowers.com picked a really good time to improve its site availability, its response time needs significant improvement for optimum user experience.
Williams-Sonoma came in at No. 47 in response time, the same ranking as last month, at 6.6541 seconds. It also ranked No. 47 in availability at 97.81 percent. Clearly, Williams-Sonoma should have performed much better in both areas for consumers buying for mom early. J.C. Penney ranked No. 11 in response time, also the same as last month, at 2.6904 seconds, and No. 10 in availability at 99.97 percent. While the retailer's sales and earnings plunged in the first quarter of the year, it's a winner this month in website performance. Consumers are still very cautious in this economy, so user experience must be optimized for revenue's sake.