December 8, 2010, 1:25 PM

Walgreens finds the right prescription to boost mobile performance

And none of the 15 mobile sites Keynote tracks dropped the ball during the holiday weekend.

Lead Photo

Walgreens jumped two spots in this week's mobile performance index.

The top three positions in the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index this week were held by the same three retailers as last week: StrandBooks.com, Barnes & Noble and Walmart.com. However, Walgreen Co. seems to be taking its mobile medicine. It jumped ahead this week from No. 6 to No. 4, its mobile site loading successfully 98.80% of the time and posting an average load time of 5.68 seconds to give it a score of 747 out of 1,000.

StrandBooks.com again came in first with a score of 926, its mobile home page loading in 2.42 seconds with a success rate of 98.33%. Barnes & Noble, in second place, garnered a score of 851 loading on average in 4.42 seconds with a 98.87% success rate. Walmart.com rounded out the top three with a score 788, loading on average in 3.68 seconds, and doing so successfully 98.00% of the time.

“The majority of the mobile retail sites survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday without too many bruises,” says Herman Ng, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote Systems. “None of the sites experienced any major speed or reliability issues over the days of shopping frenzy.”

The index average score for the week was 665, down 2 points. The average load time was 5.52 seconds with a success rate of 98.11%. Click here and select Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index to see complete results for all of the index’s 15 merchants for the week ending Dec 3.

Ng notes that one reason some sites have slower load times compared to others is because they are not optimized for different devices. For example, he says it appears that only 5 of the 15 mobile sites tracked in the index have a simpler version of their site optimized for the BlackBerry. Most BlackBerry devices are not as sophisticated as an iPhone or Android device in terms of web browsing. Although some sites are simple enough that they perform well on the BlackBerry, having a single version of a site means any site change will affect all mobile users differently depending on their device.

“Certain site changes might even prevent a page from successfully loading or properly rendering on a lower-end feature phone,” Ng says. Feature phones are devices whose functionality falls between that of a smartphone and a flip-phone. He says it’s important to keep mobile consistency in mind when thinking about mobile commerce.

Keynote Systems measures the 15 representative m-commerce sites for Internet Retailer. The sites include merchants in various categories and channels, and of various sizes, ranging from such giants as Sears and Foot Locker Inc. to midsized retailers like Sunglass Hut and K&L Wine Merchants.

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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