September 27, 2012, 10:15 AM

Target retargets mobile commerce domains

Changing content location gives the retailer a powerful performance boost.

Lead Photo

The merchant's m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 6.52 seconds.

Target Corp. jumped from 24th place to third last week on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index, juiced by a shift in where it stores its mobile commerce site content, mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc. reports.

For the week ending Sept. 23, the Target m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 6.52 seconds, 0.90 seconds better than the previous week, and the page loaded completely and successfully 99.89% of the time, better than the 97.59% success rate of the previous week. The index combines load time and success rate to give Target a score of 961 out of 1,000.

“Target made several adjustments, moving most of the mobile-optimized site content off the sites.target.com domain and onto m.target.com and Img3.target.com domains, which appear to have more responsive performance,” says Ken Harker, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote Systems. “Target, however, still has performance optimization opportunities. The biggest opportunity is properly setting cache headers.”

For example, when a consumer navigates beyond the home page, the web browser has to make additional requests for some assets already loaded once on the home page. Target could improve performance by indicating in the cache header settings for those assets, such as images, that it is OK to trust certain assets and use them directly out of the cache rather than make another call to the server for the same item, Harker says.

“Some elements, such as the dynamic HTML on a page, cannot be cached by design, but elements like JavaScript libraries and image icons will load faster if they can be pulled out of cache on the mobile device instead of being pulled over the network,” he explains. “Despite the performance improvements in the past week, the Target site is still not setting the cache properties of some key assets—Cascading Style Sheets, JavaScript and some images—on the home page, which can result in slower page loads for users who navigate beyond the home page.”

Target, No. 34 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400, is in the midst of placing mobile commerce on a new platform and the result so far has been positive, a Target spokesman says.

“We’ve recently been transitioning our mobile site onto the same platform as our Target.com web site to create a better, more integrated experience for our guests,” the spokesman says. “We are constantly fine-tuning and modifying our applications and approach to ensure the best possible mobile experience for Target guests.”

Amazon.com Inc. topped the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending Sept. 23 with a load time of 4.88 seconds and a success rate of 99.88% for a score of 978, and Sears Holdings Corp. came in second with a load time of 4.47 seconds and a success rate of 99.86% for a score of 976. Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400 and Sears is No. 29.

The average load time for all 30 retailers on the index was 8.05 seconds, the average success rate was 99.21% and the average score was 756.

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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