Valentine’s day shoppers let down by online gift and card websites


By Robert Castley

Particularly significant was an outage of over ten hours on the Find Me a Gift website, as well as various availability issues from the likes of Flowers Direct, iFlorist, Interflora, Moonpig and Thorntons.

The majority of issues occurred between the morning of February 9th and midday on February 12th. The fastest webpage to load during this period was the Valentine’s page on the Tesco site, at 0.65 seconds, while the slowest page was Thorntons, which took an average of 5.62 seconds, a huge variation in response time.

Availability – the chances of a webpage loading successfully – was also poor and there were notable troughs across a number of the Valentine’s Day webpages. During this three day period, iFlorist experienced a drop in load success rate to 70.59 percent, Flowers Direct to 77.78 percent and Moonpig and Interflora to 75 percent. In the case of Find Me a Gift, the site was unavailable between 1.30am and 11.45am on February 2nd.

It is extremely disappointing to see the gift and card websites perform so poorly during the run up to Valentine’s Day. Having monitored retail sites over the Christmas period, I was expecting to see a similar batch of results but, in reality, the user experience offered was far less reliable, slower and well below par. When we’re seeing around a quarter of visitors having trouble loading a site correctly, site owners have to realise that such performance can result in significant lost revenue.

It is absolutely paramount that retailers make the most of occasions such as Valentine’s Day and the dedicated pages these sites had would have drawn romantics to appropriate gifts and cards. For these pages to be successful, however, they must load correctly. It is understandable that sites, such as Find Me a Gift, may have been doing maintenance work on the site when it was unavailable, but for this to extend long into the business day is completely unacceptable and may not only have lost the site customers, but could well have damaged their reputation with consumers shopping in the future.

About the author

Robert Castley has been a solutions consultant at internet testing and monitoring specialist Keynote, for over three years. Prior to working at Keynote, Robert worked as a Professional Services Consultant at a document management company, Macro 4, where he worked on developing custom web interfaces. He regularly engages with customers and has an in-depth technical knowledge in web development. One of his proudest achievements is developing one of the world’s most popular Open Source Content Management Systems to the masses – Mambo, which now lives on as Joomla!

Robert is an authoritative spokesperson on web performance and regularly participates in industry events on the topic. Robert is passionate about the need to provide the optimum experience for internet users, irrelevant of the device they are using. He advocates a ‘three screen approach’ that provides a consistent experience whether a website is being accessed via mobile, tablet or desktop computer.

About the company

Keynote Systems is the global leader in Internet and mobile cloud monitoring. It provides companies with solutions for continuously improving the online experience. Founded in 1995, Keynote provides testing, monitoring and measurement products and services for any enterprise including online portals, e-commerce sites, B2B sites, mobile operators and mobile infrastructure providers. Keynote products and services help companies improve customer experience in four areas: Web performance, mobile quality, streaming and real user experience testing.

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