February 15, 2012, 1:05 PM

M-commerce site performance hampered by Verizon

The wireless network increased page load times for retailers, Keynote Systems says.

Lead Photo

The merchant's m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 3.01 seconds.

Retailers with mobile commerce sites can do many things to improve performance. However, there’s one fact they can’t avoid: They are at the mercy of the wireless carriers. The amount of time it takes to load a page from a web server to a smartphone is dependent on many factors, but the efficiency of a wireless network is a big one—and one that is completely out of the control of a merchant.

The load times for virtually all of the 30 retailers on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending Feb. 12 were negatively affected by a dip in performance on the Verizon Wireless network, reports mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc. The firm measures performance on all four major wireless networks.

“This week’s index saw an overall increase in load times mainly due to slower performance on the Verizon Wireless network,” says Abelardo Gonzalez, mobile performance expert at Keynote Systems. “During this widespread slowdown, sites with fewer elements on the page showed smaller increases in load times than sites with higher element counts. A best practice for mobile site designers should be to streamline JavaScript, Cascading Style Sheets and images to minimize the number of elements on each page.”

Verizon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The average page load time for the m-commerce site home pages for all 30 retailers on the index was 8.94 seconds. The average success rate—the percentage of the time a page loads completely and successfully—was 95.43%. Weighting then combing these two figures resulted in an average index score of 711 out of 1,000.

Sears Holdings Corp. topped the index with a load time of a swift 3.01 seconds, a success rate of 99.18% and a score of 983. CVS Caremark Corp. came in second with a load time of 3.29 seconds, a success rate of 99.21% and a score of 978. And Best Buy Co. Inc. came in third with a load time of 5.79 seconds, a success rate of 99.61% and a score of 942. Sears is No. 21 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300. CVS is No. 92 and Best Buy is No. 16.

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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