January 8, 2014, 3:18 PM

Post-holiday rush slows m-commerce site page loads

Nine of the top 10 sites on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index saw slower mobile page loads for the week ending Jan. 5 as shoppers looking for sales and spending gift cards kept the pressure on.

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The chain retailer topped the weekly Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index. Its mobile site home page loaded on average in 3.13 seconds, Keynote says.

The torn-apart wrapping paper and empty boxes are in the recycling bin and the last of the eggnog is gone. The holidays are over. But life goes on for online retailing. In fact, many shoppers are on their PCs, tablets and smartphones taking advantage of post-holiday sales and spending gift cards they received from Santa. A post-holiday surge in online shopping put pressure on mobile commerce web sites and wireless carrier networks, and as a result, mobile page load times slowed a bit, according to the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending Jan. 5.

“The truth about holiday shopping is it rolls right into January,” says Ken Harker, mobile evangelist at mobile and web performance management firm Keynote. “With exchanges, sales and gift cards, the post-Christmas scene can be just as demanding as the pre-Christmas rush. Plus many consumers may be visiting a site for the first time to do an exchange or use a gift card so for online retailers the pressure continues to deliver top levels of speed and availability.”

The average m-commerce site home page load time for the 29 retailers on the index was 7.62 seconds for the week ending Jan. 5, 0.62 seconds slower than the previous week, Keynote says. Further, page load times were slower for nine of the top 10 retailers on the index.

“This is perhaps no surprise,” Harker says. “The final days of December and early January typically see shoppers looking to spend gift cards, shopping for items they wanted but did not get, or shopping the sales. So while the holiday rush may be over the post-holiday rush marches right along.”

Sears Holdings Corp. topped the index for the week ending Jan. 5 with an m-commerce site home page load time of a 3.13 seconds and a success rate (also known as site availability) of 100%. Weighting and then combining load time and success rate earned Sears an index score of 986 out of 1,000. The merchant’s mobile home page contains only eight elements (such as images and scripts) and weighs 61 kilobytes. Keynote advises retailers wanting optimal performance to limit mobile page elements to 10 or 12 and limit page weight to 100 kilobytes or less.

Toolfetch.com LLC came in second with a load time of a swift 2.90 seconds and a success rate of 99.75% for a score of 923. Its mobile home page contains seven elements and weighs only 56 kilobytes. W.W. Grainger Inc. came in third with a load time of 3.58 seconds and a success rate of 99.75% for a score of 893. Its mobile home page contains seven elements and weighs 82 kilobytes.

The average mobile home page load time for all 29 retailers on the index was 7.62 seconds, the average success rate was 99.53%, and the average score was 720. The average number of page elements on home pages was 26 and the average page weight was 275 kilobytes.

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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