October 31, 2012, 4:13 PM

M-commerce site performance is slowing down

Tenths of a second can make a difference in conversion, Keynote Systems says.

Lead Photo

The e-retailer's m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 5.54 seconds.

M-commerce web sites on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index are slowing down. For the week ending Oct. 14, the average home page load time for all 30 retailers on the index was 8.36 seconds. It increased to 8.57 seconds for the week ending Oct. 21 and ballooned to 9.34 seconds for the week ending Oct. 28. Not a good trend going into the busy holiday shopping season.

“Among the top 10 sites in our latest week’s ranking, every single site was slower for the week ending Oct. 28,” says Ken Harker, mobile performance expert at Keynote Systems Inc. “Retailers as a whole should be concerned that slower and slower average page loads will impact user satisfaction with their mobile experience at just the worst time of the retail shopping year. Tenths of a second can make a difference in conversion rate, so every effort must be made to improve site performance and stand out from the competition. Even the top-performing sites still have room to improve.”

Harker says performance has slowed significantly in New York (predating Hurricane Sandy), one of Keynote’s three testing locations, on the Verizon network. He attributes the slowdown to increased wireless data usage. Wireless data usage has more than doubled, hitting 1.16 trillion megabytes of data in June 2012, up from 568 billion megabytes in June 2011, according to research from CTIA—The Wireless Association.

“Mobile site operators can’t control events like a single market or operator having performance challenges,” Harker says, “but they can mitigate the risks by continuing to follow best practices and keep their sites light in kilobyte size and with as few HTTP requests as possible.” An HTTP request occurs when a consumer’s web browser requests web page content from a site operator’s server.

Amazon.com Inc. topped the Keynote index for the week ending Oct. 28, with an m-commerce site home page load time of 5.54 seconds and a success rate of 99.89% for a score of 979 out of 1,000. Office Depot Inc. came in second with a load time of 3.84 seconds and a success rate of 99.79% for a score of 978. And Best Buy Co. Inc. came in third with a load time of 6.93 seconds and a success rate of 99.89% for a score of 965. Amazon.com is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400, Office Depot is No. 65 and Best Buy is No. 25.

The index average load time was 9.34 seconds, the average success rate was 99.19% and the average score was 810.

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. Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400, Toolfetch.com is No. 248. 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 one another in overall quality. The index average score is the midpoint among all the sites’ scores.

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