September 21, 2010, 6:03 PM

Walmart.com’s mobile site performance is unbeatable, Keynote finds

The retailer achieves a perfect score on the weekly index of m-commerce performance.

Lead Photo

The m-commerce site home page of Walmart.com loaded on average last week in 3.18 seconds.

Walmart.com hit 1,000 out of 1,000 points on this week’s Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index, with an average home page load time of 3.18 seconds and a success rate at downloading that page of 99.37%. It came in first last week, as well, but with a score of 865.

StrandBooks.com came in second this week, with a score of 900, downloading the home page in 3.74 seconds and doing so successfully 98.53% of the time. It came in sixth last week. And Barnes & Noble came in third this week with a score of 865, downloading the home page in 4.42 seconds and doing so successfully 98.64% of the time. It came in second last week.

The index average score this week was 744, up 154 points from 590 last week. The average m-commerce site home page load time for the 15 retailers in the index was 5.5 seconds with a success rate of 97.94%. Click here and select Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index to see complete results for all 15 merchants for the week beginning Sept. 13.

Keynote cannot isolate why precisely the average index score shot up 26%, but it says a variety of factors are always at play.

“If one of the carriers suddenly performed much better and faster last week compared with the week before, then you’ll definitely see that reflected in the index,” says Herman Ng, evangelist in the mobile solutions group at Keynote. “A lot of the time it will be either the carrier or the location. Maybe one of the cities being measured hosted a major event over the course of a week, like an enormous trade show, and that overloaded the network. You’ll then see poor performance. An event can affect everyone, not just one particular site.”

But poor performance was not an issue last week with Walmart.com, which continued to dominate the index.

“Walmart.com’s mobile web site led the pack again this week with consistently fast performance and high availability. Their end users not only receive great experience from visiting the mobile site, but the company is also well positioned heading into the busy and critical holiday season,” Ng says. “Some retailers had a drop in weekly availability and that is never a good sign. It’s important to catch the issue as soon as possible, and understand what happened and how to prevent it from happening again.”

Availability problems can be caused by any number of factors. One of the most common is site maintenance. “Sometimes short periods of site unavailability are unavoidable, but this doesn't mean the end user should have a bad experience,” Ng says. “A simple maintenance message is the minimum any site master should implement. An even better approach is to provide detailed information on how long the site will be unavailable, and list other ways customers can get in touch with the retailer such as by phone, e-mail or text message.”

Keynote Systems, a mobile and web performance management firm, measures 15 representative m-commerce sites exclusively for Internet Retailer. The sites include merchants in various categories and channels, and of various sizes, ranging from such giants as Dell and Walgreens to midsized retailers like Sunglass Hut and Toolfetch.com.

Keynote repeatedly tests the sites in the index Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. through midnight Eastern time, emulating three different smartphones on three different wireless networks: the iPhone on AT&T, the BlackBerry Curve on Sprint and the Droid (which uses the Android operating system) on Verizon. Keynote combines the site’s load time and success rate, equally weighted, into a single score. Given both performance and availability are important, the score reflects the overall quality of the home page. A higher score indicates better performance; scores also reflect how close sites are too each other in overall quality. The index average score is the midpoint among all the sites' scores.

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