March 21, 2012, 1:19 PM

PacSun is slow but successful

The merchant’s slow mobile page load time is tempered by solid reliability.

Lead Photo

The retailer's m-commerce home page loaded completely and successfully 99.92% of the time.

Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. has made it to No. 5 on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index in a curious fashion. Its m-commerce site home page loads in 10.99 seconds, below the index average of 10.18 seconds and not even close to the swiftest load time on the index, 3.00 seconds, mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc. says. However, the mobile home page loads completely and successfully 99.92% of the time. The index average success rate is 96.38%.

Page load time is preventing PacSun, No. 195 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300, from advancing further. Based on an analysis of PacSun performance data, Keynote Systems says there are ways the retailer can improve.

First, the PacSun m-commerce site home page optimized for iPhones contains 21 elements, which is on the large side, Keynote says. Page elements include images, boxes of text and other items. Reducing the number of page elements likely would reduce the page load time.

Furthermore, there are four redirects to get to the PacSun mobile home page, Keynote says. A redirect is when a browser must go from one web domain to another, behind the scenes, to get to its final destination. Typically, when a web server with an m-commerce site detects that a server request is coming from a smartphone, it will automatically redirect the smartphone user from the main URL they typed in (Retailer.com) to the mobile URL (m.Retailer.com). All sites on the weekly index have at least one redirect; however, sites consistently ranked at the top usually have no more than one or two redirects, Keynote says. Four redirects could be adding more than a couple of seconds onto PacSun’s page load time, Keynote adds.

“PacSun’s page design and hosting environment work well, as the success rate numbers prove,” says Joe Flake, web and mobile performance expert at Keynote. “Any minor page load time improvements will boost them toward the top of the index.”

Tim Katz, senior online operations manager at PacSun, would only say, “We are fully aware of this and will be addressing it this year.”

Toolfetch.com LLC topped the index for the week ending March 18 with a load time of 3.82 seconds and a success rate of 97.83% for a score of 917 out of 1,000. Sears Holdings Corp. came in second with a load time of 3.00 seconds and a success rate of 97.38% for a score of 914. And The Home Depot Inc. came in third with a load time of 7.23 seconds and a success rate of 98.73% for a score of 897.

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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