May 9, 2013, 3:26 PM

J.C. Penney rips its m-commerce site in half

Reducing kilobytes by half cuts the merchant’s page load time by 1.78 seconds, Keynote says.

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The department store retailer’s m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 7.21 seconds.

The lighter the better is the rule in mobile web performance. J.C. Penney Co. Inc. reduced the weight of its mobile commerce web site home page from 300 kilobytes to 150 kilobytes during the week ending May 5 and consequently trimmed 1.78 seconds off of its page load time, reports mobile and web performance management firm Keynote.

The department store retailer’s m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 7.21 seconds and did so completely and successfully 99.06% of the time, Keynote says. Weighting and then combining load time and success rate earns the merchant a score of 839 out of 1,000 on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index.

At 150 kilobytes, J.C. Penney’s mobile home page is the 15th smallest of the 30 retailers on the index, Keynote says, and below an important threshold.

“When you reach 500 kilobytes, performance gets impacted—customers might give up,” says Nisheeth Mohan, senior product manager at Keynote. “If you want a really fast site, 50 kilobytes is probably a good threshold for loads of two to three seconds.”

Retailers should give careful thought to every element they place on a mobile commerce site page, says Abelardo Gonzalez, mobile performance expert with Keynote.

“When constructing a mobile site, companies should continually ask themselves if all of the elements and images on a page are needed and how they can consolidate elements to achieve the most streamlined site as possible,” Gonzalez says. “Due to the latency and bandwidth of the wireless carriers, even a small reduction in page size can have a perceptible change on site performance.”

J.C. Penney did not reply to a request for comment.

Barnes & Noble topped the Keynote index for the week ending May 5 with a load time of 4.98 seconds and a success rate of 99.49% for a score of 941. Amazon.com Inc. came in second with a load time of 6.28 seconds and a success rate of 99.59% for a score of 937. And Sears Holdings Corp. came in third with a load time of 2.07 seconds and a success rate of 99.07% for a score of 917.

J.C. Penney is No. 37 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400, BarnesandNoble.com Inc. is No. 31, Amazon.com is No. 1 and Sears is No. 29.

The index average load time for all 30 retailers is 9.00 seconds, the average success rate is 98.73% and the average score is 759.

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.

Keynote is ranked No. 2 among web performance monitoring firms in Internet Retailer’s Leading Vendors to the Top 1000 E-retailers guide.

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