The post-Thanksgiving holiday online buying spree may be over, but yesterday was another huge day for online retailers – and it might not be the last. Green Monday, typically the second Monday of December typically represents the day when most last minute shoppers hit the Web to ensure their orders are delivered before Christmas. However, the fact shoppers have a full 7 business days between the third Monday in December and Christmas, may result in Green Monday Part II. Combine this with how comfortable and confident online shoppers have become with shipping windows and all the elements are there for one more major online shopping day this holiday season.
Green Monday and Cyber Monday are typically the two most lucrative days of the year for online retailers – and not surprisingly the most popular e-shopping days of the holiday season. This year Cyber Monday hit a record of $2.29 billion and Green Monday sales were expected to reach $1,023 billion. Those numbers are a clear indicator that retailers’ websites were bombarded with traffic over the past few weeks - but which retailers were prepared for it?
As I pointed out in my post a few weeks ago, the user experience is critical to online success especially for online retailers, so we continued monitoring the top 50 to get a better idea of who had and continued to optimize performance through Green Monday. As a quick refresher, we measured the point at which the user would first see the page rendering and it is fully loaded in the displayed portion of the browser:
We clearly see that the sites’ performance negligibly improved on Green Monday by 0.04% in comparison to Cyber Monday. This indicates that online retailers continued to maintain their sites as they go through the season. Given where Christmas falls on the calendar this year shoppers will still have more than enough time to place online orders next Monday and still receive them in time for the big day. It would be smart for online retailers to continue to be prepared for the possibility of a Green Monday Part II.
Focusing on Visual User Experience – Yes, No, Maybe?
We took a step back and compared the visual user experience metrics of November 11 and 18 of the top 50 retailers to those of the two biggest e-shopping days of the year. Many of the online retailers were able to decrease their first paint time which measures the point at which the eyeballs would notice the first burst of paint activity on the screen as well as their above the fold time which measures the point at which the eyeballs would see the page stabilize in the viewport of the browser on Cyber Monday and Green Monday.
Amway and Williams Sonoma are among those who improved their timings on both Cyber Monday and Green Monday – however CDW and Kohl’s were not able to follow their lead. On average 40% of the sites saw an improvement in visual user experience metrics. Availability and Web performance were better on the busiest online days of the season compared to any other regular day. This is probably an indication of just how ready online retailers were this year to handle the traffic surge. This could be the beginning of a shift in where retailers’ priorities lie with regard to how their pages load especially on the biggest online shopping days of the year.
As the online shopping season comes to an end, we will continue to report on the performance of the top 50 retailers ‘sites after Green Monday part 2 - December 16.