November 28, 2012, 12:55 PM

Heavier wireless traffic on Thanksgiving weekend does not thwart performance

But a hectic Cyber Monday brings trouble, Keynote Systems says.

Lead Photo

The e-retailer's m-commerce site home page loaded on average in a swift 2.96 seconds.

Wireless data traffic was heavier than normal this past Thanksgiving weekend, mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems says, and that can translate to performance problems for retailers with mobile commerce web sites and apps. Mobile commerce sites held up well through Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, but Keynote says they slowed down late Sunday and on Monday, which turned out to be the heaviest online shopping day ever according to web measurement firm comScore Inc.

On average the 30 retailers on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index held their own in the face of heavier traffic for the week ending Sunday, Nov. 25, with the exception of a small dip in site availability, Keynote Systems says.

“Technology prevailed, and none of the m-commerce sites on the index showed any hard outage periods during the past week,” says Joe Flake, web and mobile performance expert at Keynote Systems. “Indeed, most of the sites on the index showed slightly faster load times versus the previous period, while at the same time seeing slightly lower availability impacted by random error points from the heavier loaded carrier wireless networks. Overall, the index was 0.3 seconds faster to load, but 1% less available.”

However, beginning on Sunday Nov. 25 and going into Monday Nov. 26, known as Cyber Monday, one of the busiest online shopping days of the year, the retailers on the index began experiencing serious performance problems.

“The average page load time on the index on Cyber Monday was slower than 18 seconds, or roughly twice as slow as normal,” says Aaron Rudger, mobile and web performance manager at Keynote. “This is quite detrimental and will certainly impact a customer’s experience negatively and can easily motivate a shopper to abandon a site altogether or go to a competitor’s mobile shopping site. It appears many leading retailers have failed to do the rigorous testing mobile sites require in order to accommodate increasing numbers of mobile holiday shoppers each year.”

The amount of holiday shopping now taking place on smartphones has grown too large for retailers to ignore, Rudger adds.

For the week ending Sunday, Nov. 25, the index average m-commerce site home page load time was 8.99 seconds. The average success rate—the percentage of the time a page loads completely and successfully—was 98.19%. Keynote weights and combines load time and success rate to come up with a score. The average score was 741 out of 1,000. For the week ending Nov. 18, the average load time was 9.29 seconds, the average success rate was 99.23% and the average score was 754.

Toolfetch.com LLC topped the index for the week ending Nov. 25. Its load time was a swift 2.96 seconds, its success rate was 99.04% and its score was 1,000. Office Depot Inc. came in second with a load time of 3.15 seconds and a success rate of 98.72% for a score of 952. And Barnes & Noble came in third with a load time of 4.95 seconds and a success rate of 98.72% for a score of 910.

Toolfetch.com is No. 248 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400. Office Depot is No. 65 and BarnesandNoble.com Inc. is No. 31.

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 one another in overall quality. The index average score is the midpoint among all the sites’ scores.

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