Online flower retailer UrbanStems typically sells about five times its typical volume in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, said Katie Hudson, content director.
“The week of Valentine’s Day, the intent to purchase is so high that we’ve seen — and we’ve tested this a few times — we’ve seen people convert better on our normal shopping experience for that week because they don’t even need to know our story,” Hudson said.
The retailer’s conversion rate increased 12% year over year for Valentine’s Day 2023. A large part of the retailer’s sales come through its customized landing pages, Hudson said, declining to provide dollar figures.
The retailer had its highest sales number on Feb. 12, Hudson said, though she declined to provide a dollar amount.
“We all knew people were going to wait until the last minute, and they did,” Hudson said.
Using a ‘Fastr Frontend’
UrbanStems is always monitoring its conversion rate, and it continually tests design features to improve conversion, Hudson says.
The “normal shopping experience” on UrbanStems.com uses Salesforce’s ecommerce platform and is limited to Salesforce templates. UrbanStems also runs design feature experiments using web design vendor Zmags’ Fastr Frontend interface, which connects to the platform via an application programming interface (API).
The vendor allows Hudson to add new pages or custom-designed sections of pages to UrbanStems.com that aren’t limited to its ecommerce platform’s template, rather than submitting a ticket to the retailer’s web developers each time she wants or needs to make a change.
“It’s for a creative audience to be able to do things on those key parts of the site where your brand vision is paramount,” said Ryan Breen, chief technology officer at Zmags. “You really want to do something not restricted by templates.”
Breen said its typical to see a drop-off after a shopper goes to a landing page that a company put “all their effort into” creating.
“I know the moment. I’ve fallen off,” Breen said. “Hand-designed, cool site, to template hell. It’s usually right around the category page.”
There are often differences in opinion among the merchandisers, marketers and development agencies producing custom pages, Breen said.
“Everything becomes a ticket to another team to another team to another team, and you aren’t doing that in a day,” Breen said.
Changes UrbanStems makes to improve conversion
Some of the changes UrbanStems made include adding a countdown timer, updating promo codes in real time, creating shoppable tiles on the retailer’s blog, and using an inventory badge that indicates how many units of a product are available. Each change helped UrbanStems improve its conversion, Hudson said.
When UrbanStems tested a Zmags landing page versus its normal shopping product listing page, the Zmags landing page always had a higher conversion rate compared with the normal shopping page, Hudson says.
In the case of Valentine’s Day, the Zmags product landing page (PLP) UrbanStems created on its site resulted in a 35% increase in conversion compared with its templated PLP, Hudson said. UrbanStems tested the page from Jan. 24 to 29.
“We weren’t even expecting to run the test so short, but the numbers were so significant,” Hudson said.
The Zmags pages have tested and performed so well for UrbanStems that the retailer now tests one Zmags frontend page versus another to see how well different creative leads shoppers to convert.
UrbanStems top-selling Valentine’s Day products
“Unsurprisingly, red roses were our top seller,” Hudson said.
And the retailer saw the biggest conversion lift on SKUs in the $70 to $100 range, she said. Furthermore, people are more likely to include add-ons such as vases to their Valentine’s Day purchases, she said.
UrbanStems also orders in lower volume SKUs that have a higher price point to experiment with what shoppers are comfortable purchasing. The flower retailer offered a SKU for Valentine’s Day that was over $200 and sold out.
“Granted, we ordered at a significantly less amount, but I’m always honestly surprised to see what people are gravitating toward,” Hudson said. “I think sometimes it could be that when you see a higher price point, it feels like a more luxurious gift, which it certainly is. The over $200 price we offered had a mixture of fresh florals and orchids in it, which we’ve never done before, a bouquet with mixed orchids. It came with a vase as well. The fact that that sold out was a little surprising to me because it was something different that we’ve never sold before.”
UrbanStems also offered peonies during the Valentine’s Day season.
“Peonies overall was a huge win for us,” she said. “We actually sold out of peonies a week before Valentine’s Day.”
All those SKUs led to UrbanStems’ average order value (AOV) increasing 12% year over year around the February holiday.
Making marketing adjustments by channel
Hudson said even though UrbanStems knows the intent to purchase is “really high” leading up to Valentine’s Day, the retailer also wanted to make sure it showcased products at price points it knew shoppers were looking for based on sales data at the end of January and in early February.
It also wants to make sure it’s sorting products that are on sale or have a high buy-to-detail rate. Buy-to-detail rate is an analytic that shows the percentage of people who bought an item on a website after viewing that product’s page.
UrbanStems only used Zmags in its landing pages for shoppers coming to the site from paid social media marketing. The retailer didn’t experience any dips in conversion leading up to the holiday, Hudson said. Additionally, UrbanStems increased conversion on paid social 83% year over year.
Moreover, it spent less on paid social this year compared with 2022. Paid social transactions increased 27% year over year, she said. Those transactions come from Meta, TikTok and Pinterest. UrbanStems targeted the male audience on Meta platforms and found it responded to promo codes and the countdown timer Hudson implemented.
Those performance increases were “pretty wild for us and really exciting,” Hudson said. The next big challenge, she added, is taking those wins and applying them to its next big sales period: Mother’s Day.
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