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Hallmark: A Valentine’s Day Success Story

During this time of year, many users are in the market for Valentine's Day gifts, cards and other items to make their holiday special. Recent research shows that mobile devices including smartphones and tablets now play an integral role in Valentine's Day planning. Thanks to SOASTA, greeting card and holiday retailer Hallmark is ready for the influx of online and mobile traffic that accompanies this holiday.

Holiday mobile activities: Hallmark e-cards 
Where in the past, many customers would visit brick-and-mortar locations to pick out a card and keepsakes for loved ones, online capabilities have changed the way people shop for Valentine's Day. While physical greeting cards are still immensely popular, a rising number of consumers have been turning to Hallmark's website to send e-cards. In fact, millions of Americans look to send Valentine's Day e-cards each year, and this year will be no exception.

"Hallmark has helped as many as 5 million consumers celebrate Valentine's Day with e-cards within a 24-hour period."

According to SOASTA's 2015 Valentine's Day Survey conducted by Harris Poll, more than half of Americans – 52 percent – noted that their mobile devices will be an essential part of their plans for the holiday. This includes utilizing their smartphones and tablets to visit social media sites, make dinner reservations and shop for gifts. No doubt, many users will also leverage their mobile endpoints to send an e-card from the leading online Valentine's Day card retailer, Hallmark.

5 million customers in 24 hours: Meeting customer demands 
In past years, Hallmark has helped as many as 5 million consumers celebrate Valentine's Day with e-cards within a 24-hour period.

"Sending a Valentine's Day card on any day other than the 14th just doesn't work, so we all send a card within a 24 hour period," SOASTA CEO Tom Lounibos noted. "[This] makes it a very demanding day on vendors' websites."

Because such an influx of traffic over such a short period can cause website performance problems or even an outage, Hallmark had to ensure that it was prepared to handle the higher volume of customer demand. After all, with competitor websites just a few clicks away, even a few seconds of delay could cause users to look for e-cards and gifts elsewhere.

How Hallmark ensured continuous performance: SOASTA CloudTest
Thankfully, Hallmark was able to ensure the continuous performance of its website with help from SOASTA. The greeting card giant leveraged the SOASTA CloudTest platform as part of its Valentine's Day preparations. This solution enabled Hallmark to create virtual traffic levels that would mirror what its website would experience on Feb. 14. Using that virtual activity as a guide, Hallmark can then pinpoint and mitigate any performance issues in specific locations that might hamper a successful and enjoyable customer experience.

"Thanks to SOASTA, Hallmark is ready for the influx of online and mobile traffic that accompanies this holiday."

"If we notice that the load coming from the Des Moines data center is having a problem, we can drill into the analytics to see what's going on with the databases right at that millisecond," Lounibos told Urgent Communications. "It could be a load balancer that's configured wrong or a switch setting that needs to be toggled a different way. Or, if it's a mobile environment, what kind of phones were they using? By being able to drill into the information, they're able to isolate potential problems."

During this process, Hallmark runs a range of tests, each of which includes different metrics for the number of users so that the company can be sure its platform is ready for the rush in demand. The CloudTest platform enabled Hallmark to see how its website would perform with more than 50,000 simultaneous users, 800,000 users and finally more than 5 million users within a single day.

"Testing any other way would have made it impossible to reach these types of numbers," Lounibos noted. "Hallmark's hard work and planning seemed to have paid off as it appears that this Valentine's Day was a complete success for Hallmark."

SOASTA Marketing

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