Free bread recipes are the ecommerce breadwinner at King Arthur Flour.
The coronavirus is driving more at-home consumers to bake—especially bread—which means they need to buy flour and look up recipes. Luckily, King Arthur Flour provides both. “More people are discovering us,” says Mike Hoefer, director of web development at King Arthur Flour.
In March, web sessions grew 2.5 times over February for the flour and specialty baking ingredients retailer, with pageviews increasing three times for that timeframe, Hoefer says.
It has had “record web sessions” each week the last four weeks ending April 10. And on April 12, King Arthur Flour recorded nearly 1 million site visits on that day alone, Hoefer says. In addition, consumers are flocking to the sourdough bread starter recipe in particular—that page has 1.3 million pageviews over the last four weeks compared with the previous four weeks.
“We haven’t seen a decline in traffic, and we’re glad to have the opportunity to support so many people in these times,” Hoefer says.
Plus, its online flour sales are 1,000% higher for March compared with February. And web sales for its all-purpose and bread flours are up 2,000-3,000% year over year, the retailer says.
Hoefer is glad King Arthur Flour had recently made investments in its digital transformation, including an enhanced content management system and increased server capacity from software provider Acquia, as well as an authoritative content strategy, to help prepare for this significant spike in traffic.
Some lucky retailers, like King Arthur Flour, find themselves with a boost in online sales and traffic amid the coronavirus pandemic. But those that do may find their technology is put to the test to handle the surge. To mitigate this, some are upgrading or tweaking and others are riding it out with what they have—especially if they managed to pull off an upgrade before COVID-19 swept the globe.
Among the 1,500 ecommerce sites using mobile optimization vendor Yottaa’s services, 60% of the sites have experienced a 100% increase in traffic in the middle of March—when stay-at-home orders began to take effect—compared with the same timeframe in mid-February. Plus, one of its retailer customers had a 500% increase in traffic, Yottaa says.
Plus, the top 10 U.S. online retailers site monitoring company Catchpoint tracks reported a 7% decrease in website homepage load time—meaning the sites loaded faster—in April compared with January. And in March, the website load times have shrank 2.3% compared with February, Catchpoint says.
This seems contradictory given the increase in traffic; however, Catchpoint’s vice president of technical services, Nith Mehta, says these major online retailers are handling the transition to “online-only sales exceptionally well” during these times.
Yottaa’s chief technology officer Bob Buffone says these online brands need to get into “Cyber 5 mode” to handle the influx of traffic that is putting many at near-holiday levels. “They should also keep in mind that unlike holiday traffic when they see a quick 5-day traffic surge, increased online traffic levels from COVD-19 will take months to settle down,” Buffon says.
The data Yottaa reports correlates with a Digital Commerce 360/Bizrate Insights survey of 1,064 online shoppers during the week of April 6. 55% of online shoppers have placed more orders online as a result of coronavirus, with 22% of online shoppers having placed significantly more orders online. Plus, 58% of online shoppers expect to order more online in the next few months, which means retailers need to be ready to handle a surge of orders and traffic.
Here’s how two retailers have navigated the coronavirus pandemic armed with their ecommerce technology.
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