January 14, 2014, 2:48 PM

Keynote mobile index welcomes two responsive newcomers

Fab.com and Fathead.com join the weekly index of 30 mobile commerce players. Both employ responsive design technology, a design technique that enables retailers to create one site that adjusts to the size of the screen a consumer is using.

Lead Photo

A view of Fathead.com's responsive design site on a tablet

As mobile technology progresses, retailers are exploiting it to make managing their mobile sites easier.

One trend gaining traction is responsive design. Responsive design is a technique that enables retailers to create one site with one code base and one set of web content and have the site adjust to the size of the consumer’s screen. This eliminates the need to manage separate code for desktop, tablet and mobile sites, while still providing shoppers with a site that they can easily navigate, regardless of the device they’re using.

This week the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index, exclusive to Internet Retailer, welcomes two retailers using responsive design: Fathead.com, a web-only retailer of life-size wall decals of athletes and graphics, and Fab.com, another web-only retailer that sells housewares and home furnishings. Internet Retailer and mobile and web performance testing, monitoring and analytics firm Keynote made this change to the 30-retailer index to reflect changing approaches by retailers in serving mobile shoppers. 39 of the top 500 retailers in mobile commerce use responsive design sites, according to the 2014 Internet Retailer Mobile 500. Responsive sites Fathead.com and Fab.com replace the departing Staples.com and Pacsun.com m-commerce sites for smartphones, which were removed solely to make room for the new sites; the change in no way reflects poorly on the departing retailers.

The benefit of responsive design, says Keynote web and mobile expert Joe Flake, is having a single code base to maintain. But the tradeoff is that the site is more complex, and possibly larger in terms of the total code employed than the mobile-only sites many companies build. Still, he says, the mobile network providers continue to increase bandwidth and capacity, performance can still be respectable from these larger sites. 

Fab.com comes in at No. 11 for its inaugural week in the index—the week ending Jan. 12. Despite a relatively heavy home page with 30 page elements, weighing 1,270 kilobytes in size, it maintained excellent availability and respectable page load speed. It loaded successfully 99.71% of the time and on average in 11.11 seconds.

Fathead.com joins much further down, ranking last in the index of 30 retailers, with a large home page consisting of 109 elements and weighing in at 2,378 kilobytes. It loaded on average in 19.34 seconds and loaded successfully 97.15% of the time.

“We’ll watch both these newcomers over time as they find their position on the index,” Flake says.

Toolfetch.com LLC topped the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index with a load time of 3.27 seconds, a success rate of 99.61%, a score of 972, a page element count of seven and a page weight of 62 kilobytes. Rakuten.com Shopping came in second with a load time of 4.13 seconds, a success rate of 99.62%, a score of 952, a page element count of nine and a page weight of 51 kilobytes.

The average load time for all 30 retailers on the index was 8.63 seconds. The average success rate was 99.08%, the average page element count was 29 and the average page weight was 274 kilobytes. The average score out of 1,000 was 720, the same average score as last week.

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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