May 23, 2013, 9:49 AM

A switch to an m-commerce platform provider boosts performance

Sports Authority slashed almost seven seconds from its page load time, Keynote says.

Lead Photo

The retailer's m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 11.45 seconds.

Sometimes relying on the expertise of a vendor can really pay off. This appears to be the case with The Sports Authority Inc. and mobile commerce web site performance, according to an analysis by mobile and web performance management firm Keynote.

Sports Authority cut a whopping 6.73 seconds from its m-commerce site home page load time for the week ending May 19 compared with the previous week, Keynote says. Keynote says Sports Authority appeared to have built and hosted its m-commerce site in-house until last week when it clearly switched to a vendor’s mobile commecre platform. Sports Authority, No. 161 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400, did not respond to a request for comment.

For the week ending May 12, Sports Authority’s m-commerce site home page load time was 18.18 seconds and its success rate, also known as site availability, was 99.45%, Keynote says. Weighting and then combining load time and success rate earned the retailer a score of 717 out of 1,000 on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index. It held position No. 20 out of 30 on the index.

For the week ending May 19, Sports Authority’s mobile home page load time was down to 11.45 seconds and its success rate was 99.14% for a score of 795. It holds position No. 12 on the index.

“While the content of Sports Authority’s mobile home page appears to be visually similar to the way it looked prior to the performance improvement, it appears that they have moved the site to a mobile web platform,” says Herman Ng, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote. “Since they made the switch early last week, the first obvious difference was a dramatic reduction in the total size and the number of objects that constitute the page. This reduction resulted in a vastly improved page load time performance.”

The merchant removed quite a bit of content from advertising and analytics domains, content that includes ads and analytics tracking tags, which doesn’t change how the site looks but does positively affect performance, Ng says.

And Sports Authority reduced the total number of JavaScript objects and the total number of web domains, which resulted in fewer web server requests and fewer domain look-ups, Ng says. That translates to lower page load times. A browser might have to go to multiple domains because the retailer has stored web content in different places, or is pulling content from third-party sources. Another difference is the retailer no longer is hosting page objects with a file-hosting service, which might not be able to deliver web content as quickly as desired, Ng says. The retailer now hosts the page objects on its own servers, he adds.

Sears Holdings Corp. topped the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending May 19. Its m-commerce site home page load time was 2.29 seconds and its success rate was 99.68%, earning it an index score of 1,000. Toolfetch.com LLC came in second with a load time of 3.08 seconds and a success rate of 99.36% for a score of 943. And Barnes & Noble came in third with a load time of 5.47 seconds and a success rate of 99.46% for a score of 923.

The index average load time was 10.33 seconds, the average success rate was 98.79% and the average score was 761.

Sears is No. 29 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400, Toolfetch.com is No. 248 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 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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