December 3, 2013, 8:50 PM

Never fear, Rakuten.com Shopping’s here

The e-retailer’s m-commerce site achieved 100% availability last week, Keynote says.

Lead Photo

The e-retailer's m-commerce site home page loads on average in 4.01 seconds, Keynote finds.

It’s pretty difficult to achieve perfection at anything, no less mobile site availability over inconsistent wireless networks. But Rakuten.com Shopping did just that—its mobile commerce web site home page was available 100% of the time for the critical week ending Dec. 1, which included the entire Thanksgiving weekend, a key shopping period, according to the weekly Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index.

Mobile and web performance management firm Keynote describes 100% availability for a mobile site as “a rare feat.” Rakuten.com Shopping’s m-commerce site loaded on average in 4.01 seconds, the index finds. Weighting and combining load time and availability earns the e-retailer an index score of 969 out of 1,000, placing it at the top of the 30-retailer index.

Exceptional mobile site availability begins with being disciplined about loading as few elements as possible to achieve the desired look and functionality of a mobile page, says Keynote mobile evangelist Ken Harker.

“When a mobile page loads only 10 or 12 HTTP server requests and weighs 100 kilobytes or less, there are simply fewer opportunities for errors to occur, especially during high-traffic events like Black Friday,” Harker says. The Rakuten mobile home page includes 12 page elements, such as images or scripts, and weighs 90 kilobytes, right in Keynote’s sweet spot, the performance firm says. “Rakuten.com Shopping also limits the number of third-party assets, such as marketing analytics tags, on its mobile home page. The site smartly loads these assets only after all critical page content has already been requested. That way, even if something does go wrong with a third-party tag, the user can still interact with the page and progress with the shopping experience.”

Keeping it simple makes sense for mobile retailers, and mobile sites like Rakuten.com Shopping are going to reap major rewards this holiday season with perfect uptime and excellent overall performance, Harker says.

Rakuten.com Shopping did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sears Holdings Corp. came in second on the Keynote index. The chain retailer’s m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 3.50 seconds and was available 99.88% of the time, earning it a score of 955. The page contains only six elements and weighs 60 kilobytes. Toolfetch.com LLC came in third with a load time of 3.25 seconds and a success rate of 99.74% for a score of 935. Its home page contains six elements and weighs 61 kilobytes.

The index average load time for all 30 retailers was 8.63 seconds, the average success rate was 99.45%, the average score was 666, the average element count was 29, and the average page weight was 286 kilobytes.

Rakuten.com Shopping is No. 28 in the recently published 2014 Internet Retailer Mobile 500, Sears is No. 30 and Toolfetch.com is No. 352.

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 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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