July 10, 2012, 12:52 PM

Sports Authority jumps six spots in mobile performance standings

But it can do better, and it knows how, Keynote Systems says.

Lead Photo

The retailer's m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 8.85 seconds.

The Sports Authority Inc. knows how to play the m-commerce site performance game. However, based on techniques it already uses, it could be doing much better, says mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc.

The Sports Authority, No. 126 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300, jumped up six places to No. 17 on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending July 8. Its m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 8.85 seconds and it did so successfully 99.27% of the time. The weighted and combined load time and success rate figures earned it an index score of 663 out of 1,000.

“We see a lightweight, sleek, mobile-optimized site with only 19 elements on the home page, which is under 90 kilobytes in size,” says Venkatesh Giri, mobile performance expert at Keynote Systems. “The Sports Authority site uses Cascading Style Sheet sprites to combine images and reduce the number of HTTP server requests. All this makes the site load faster.”

CSS is a markup language used to design pages and define where objects appear on a page. A CSS sprite is a mobile page building tool that packs multiple images into one page request to reduce the number of requests needed to render a page.

But while the Sports Authority knows these tricks of the trade, it is not making full use of them, and is not optimizing in other areas where it can reduce page load time, Keynote says.

“We see four redirections on their home page, which adds considerable latency and load times. Cutting down on redirects will significantly improve their load time,” Giri says. A redirect is a process that sends a web server request from one URL, such as Retailer.com, to another, such as m.Retailer.com. “And out of 19 page elements, 10 are images served from an online file-sharing site, Dropbox. The images served from Dropbox are small icons on the site, but the browser makes 10 individual HTTP server requests to fetch the resources, which increases the round-trip time. The Sports Authority can minimize this by using CSS sprites.”

The Sports Authority declined to comment.

Office Depot Inc. topped the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance index with a load time of a swift 2.48 seconds and a success rate of 99.81% for a score of 987. Buy.com came in second with a load time of 4.08 seconds and a success rate of 99.80% for a score of 926. And HSN Inc. came in third with a load time of 4.68 seconds and a success rate of 99.80% for a score of 902.

Office Depot is No. 53 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300. Buy.com is No. 19 and HSN is No. 58.

The average load time for all 30 retailers on the index is 7.46 seconds, the average success rate is 99.17% and the average score is 700.

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. to midsized retailers like Toolfetch.com LLC. Keynote tests the sites in the index every hour Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. through midnight Eastern time, emulating three different smartphones on three different wireless networks: Apple Inc.’s iPhone 4 on AT&T, the HTC Evo on Sprint 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 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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