January 25, 2012, 4:39 PM

CVS soars 22 spots up mobile performance index

Streamlining redirection and fewer timeouts put it at No.1, Keynote says.

Lead Photo

The merchant's m-commerce site home page last week loaded on average in 3.59 seconds.

CVS Caremark Corp. jumped 22 positions to No. 1 on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending Jan. 22. A couple of factors were at play in the pharmacy merchant’s enormous rise.

First, during the previous week, CVS was slow in delivering the first byte of data from its servers to smartphones, so slow that it sometimes resulted in timeouts where the m-commerce site home page failed to load, says mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc. That was not the case last week, and far fewer timeouts led to a much higher success rate, or the percentage of the time the m-commerce site home page loaded completely and successfully. The previous week, CVS’s success rate was 96.91%; last week it was 99.08%.

CVS also improved its load time, the amount of time it takes for the m-commerce site home page to travel from web server to smartphone. The load time the previous week was 4.15 seconds; the load time last week was 3.59 seconds. Keynote says CVS altered its redirection set-up, which helped it cut down on load time. A redirect occurs when a consumer on a smartphone types in the desktop URL for a web site and the site detects a mobile device is making the request redirects to a mobile URL and mobile content.

“CVS made what on the surface appears to be a very minor change, but one which is critical for mobile site performance,” says Joe Flake, mobile and web performance expert at Keynote Systems. “Previously, CVS initiated their mobile page load with two redirects—the first from the CVS.com site to the m.CVS.com site; then another redirect to a particular page on that mobile domain. They cleaned up that redirect process and now do just a single redirect at the beginning of the page load, from the main page directly to the mobile page.”

CVS, No. 92 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300, would not comment on the redirection but did say a previous service outage problem has been fixed.

“There were no service interruptions last week and the site had the third-fastest load time at 3.59 seconds,” a CVS spokeswoman says. “CVS/pharmacy is working to change our downtime maintenance strategy so it doesn’t include downtime for maintenance. This will provide more accurate measurements from sites like Keynote, and we expect to see increased average speed of CVS/pharmacy’s mobile site when downtime is not included.”

Keynote combined and weighted CVS’s 3.59-second load time and 99.08% success rate to reach a score for the retailer of 959 out of 1,000. Sears Holdings Corp. came in second for the week with a load time of a very swift 2.76 seconds and a success rate of 98.78% for a score of 940. Victoria’s Secret came in third with a load time of 3.47 seconds and a success rate of 98.88% for a score of 934.

The index average load time for all 30 merchants was 8.17 seconds, the average success rate was 98.20% and the average score was 726.

Click here and then click on Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index Part 1 and Part 2 to see this week’s complete results for all 30 retailers on the index.

Keynote Systems measures 30 representative m-commerce sites exclusively for Internet Retailer. The sites include merchants in multiple categories and channels, and of multiple sizes, ranging from such giants as Amazon.com Inc., Sears Holdings Corp. and 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., to midsized retailers like Sunglass Hut and Toolfetch.com LLC. Keynote tests the sites in the index every hour Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. through midnight Eastern time, emulating four different smartphones on four different wireless networks: Apple Inc.’s iPhone 4 on AT&T, the HTC Evo on Sprint, the BlackBerry Curve on T-Mobile and the Droid X on Verizon. The HTC Evo and the Droid X run Google Inc.’s Android operating system. Keynote runs the tests in Chicago, Dallas, New York and San Francisco.

Keynote combines a site’s load time and success rate, equally weighted, into a single score. Given that 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 average score is the midpoint among all the sites’ scores.

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