September 28, 2010, 5:07 PM

Competition is close among top-performing mobile sites, index shows

The leaders are neck and neck, and others should keep up—at least, Keynote Systems says.

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The m-commerce site home page of Walgreens achieved the highest success rate this week, downloading 98.87% of the time.

Most of the retailers that performed better than average on the weekly Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index were within 100 points of each other on a 1,000-point scale. Other retailers with m-commerce  sites must keep up to be competitive, Keynote Systems Inc. says.

“The point difference between the ‘better than average’ sites was actually quite narrow in both load time and success rate. When thinking about the end-user experience, that’s where you want your site to be: fast and highly available,” says Herman Ng, mobile evangelist at Keynote Systems. “Given that online retail in general is a highly competitive sector, it is absolutely critical for any retailer to know that their mobile site user experience is at least comparable to their competitors’, if not better. Monitoring your mobile web site can be considered even more critical than monitoring your e-commerce site given how fast mobile technology is changing and growing, along with the added complexity of carrier networks and the large variety of device types, operating systems and mobile browsers on the market today.”

Coming off of a perfect score of 1,000 last week, Walmart.com again led the index of 15 mobile retailers with a score of 946, with a mobile home page load time of 3.16 seconds, successfully loading the page 98.35% of the time.

StrandBooks.com again came in second, this week with a score of 912, a load time of 3.73 seconds and a success rate of 98.35%. Walgreens edged up two spots to come in third with a score of 854, load time of 5.55 seconds and a success rate of 98.87%. Dell again came in fourth with a score this week of 826, and Barnes & Noble dropped two spots to fifth place with a score of 823. Click here and select Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index to see complete results for all 15 merchants for the week beginning Sept. 20.

The index average for the week was 727, down 17 points from the previous week. The average m-commerce site home page load time was 5.57 seconds and the average success rate was 97.65%.

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 Best Buy 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 a 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 to each other in overall quality. The index’s average score is the midpoint among all the sites’ scores.

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