August 16, 2012, 10:19 AM

Major changes at Toys ‘R’ Us boost m-commerce site performance

Average page load times improved by more than 30%, Keynote Systems says.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

The merchant's m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 8.1 seconds.

Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. performed some major reconstruction on its mobile commerce site Aug. 4-5 and the result is a significant improvement in site performance, according to the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index. Before the changes the site’s home page was loading from server to smartphone on average in 12.4 seconds. After, the site loads in 8.1 seconds, an improvement of more than 30%. The site showed the greatest improvement among all 30 retail sites tracked by the index.

The number of HTTP server requests for data dropped from 27 to 22—the fewer requests, the less time spent communicating between server and smartphone. But the biggest change was in the size of the home page. It decreased from 1.2 megabytes to 270 kilobytes, meaning much less data—images, text, JavaScript and more—is required to build the home page.

“Significant effort was made to optimize the use of images on the page for smartphone users,” says Ken Harker, mobile performance expert at mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc. “Individual JPG images that had been close to 400 kilobytes, for example, no longer appear on the page. These extremely heavy images had been leading to significant variability in page load times—sometimes the wireless carrier networks could take more than 10 seconds to deliver an image as large as 400 kilobytes, and that really impacts user perception of the page.”

Toys ‘R’ Us, No. 40 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300, did not respond to a request for comment. In addition to an 8.1-second page load time, the retailer’s m-commerce site home page loaded completely and successfully 98.70% of the time, according to the index for the week ending Aug. 12. The weighted and combined load time and success rate earned Toys ‘R’ Us an index score of 458 out of 1,000. There remains room for improvement by Toys ‘R’ Us, Harker says.

Office Depot Inc. came in first again with a load time of 2.78 seconds and a success rate of 100% for a score of 999. Buy.com came in second with a load time of 3.55 seconds and a success rate of 99.78% for a score of 913. And HSN Inc. came in third with a load time of 4.15 seconds and a success rate of 99.67% for a score of 861.

The index average load time was 7.28 seconds, the average success rate was 99.24% and the average score was 627.

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

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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