October 10, 2013, 5:00 PM

Goodbye HTML5 game, hello better mobile load times

Rakuten.com Shopping drops promotional and ad elements and speeds its m-commerce site.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

The web-only retailer's m-commerce site home page loads on average in 10.93 seconds, Keynote says.

Mobile commerce isn’t always fun and games. Or so Rakuten.com Shopping found out.

Between the week ending Sept. 29 and the week ending Oct. 6, the web-only retailer’s m-commerce web site home page load time sped up 1.36 seconds from 12.29 seconds to 10.93 seconds, according to the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index. The e-retailer showed the best improvement in load time among the 30 retailers on the index. This is in part because it removed two objects from the home page, both promotional displays, one of them an HTML5 animation for a game, a Rakuten.com Shopping spokeswoman says. HTML5 is an advanced web programming language that helps developers create mobile sites that look and function more like their richer counterparts, mobile apps.

Removing those objects lightened the home page from 83 kilobytes to 62 kilobytes, mobile and web performance management firm Keynote says. Fewer objects means fewer HTTP requests to a server to fetch page content, and lighter kilobyte weight means less content to load—and that means faster page load times, Keynote says.

Another factor played into better mobile site performance for Rakuten.com Shopping, No. 28 in the newly published 2014 Internet Retailer Mobile 500.

“For the past few weeks, an advertising object on the home page for Google DoubleClick ads was not performing well; it spouted content errors during page loading from Oct 1 to Oct 4, as well as on Sept. 19, Sept. 21 and Sept. 22,” says Venkatesh Giri, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote. “Content errors are typically missing pieces of content that normally do not affect the availability of a site, but they do add delays to the time it takes to load a page as the browser is trying to fetch content that doesn’t exist, is being moved, or is simply unavailable at the moment.”

Rakuten.com Shopping removed the ad Oct. 4, which helped speed page load times, Giri says. The e-retailer’s spokeswoman says the ad was removed for standard business and advertising reasons, not for performance reasons.

“Otherwise, the Rakuten mobile web site follows nearly all of Keynote’s mobile web best practices to deliver a pleasant experience for customers,” Giri says.

Toolfetch.com LLC topped the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending Oct. 6 with a load time of 3.52 seconds and a success rate (also known as site availability) of 99.69%. Weighting and then combining load time and success rate earned the e-retailer a perfect index score of 1,000. Sears Holdings Corp. came in second with a load time of 4.02 seconds and a success rate of 99.50% for a score of 993. And W.W. Grainger Inc. came in third with a load time of 5.34 seconds and a success rate of 99.39% for a score of 975.

The average load time for all 30 retailers on the index was 13.49 seconds, the average success rate was 94.86%, and the average score was 846.

Click here then click on Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index Part 1 and Part 2 to view complete results for all 30 retailers on the index.

Keynote 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 mid-sized retailers like Toolfetch.com LLC. Keynote tests the sites in the index every hour Monday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. through midnight Eastern time, emulating two different smartphones on two different wireless networks: Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5 on AT&T and the Samsung Galaxy SIII on T-Mobile, both using 4G networks. 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. To consistently rank high on the Keynote index, sites must hit availability targets of 99.5% or better and be faster than 10 seconds to load on average. Top-performing sites load in under five seconds.

While 4G adoption among U.S. consumers has been steadily rising, only a fraction of all U.S. wireless connections are 4G. Consequently, retailers benchmarking their mobile commerce site performance against the Keynote index should keep in mind that most of their m-commerce site shoppers will experience page load times slower than those on the index.

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