July 31, 2014, 10:48 AM

Toolfetch.com’s mobile site is fast, light and rich

The web-only retailer’s mobile site has been at the No. 2 position in the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for months. It owes that high rank to a fast-loading, light mobile site.

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The mobile home page of e-retailer Toolfetch.com LLC loads in just 3.75 seconds, according to the Internet Retailer-exclusive Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending July 27. Speed, combined with very few page elements, high site availability and light weight, have kept the site at the No. 2 spot on the index for several months.

The mobile site’s home page has just 10 elements, well below the index average of 47 and the Keynote recommendation of 20 or fewer for pages traversing a blend of 3G and 4G wireless networks. The home page weighs just 76 kilobytes, well below the index average of 505 kilobytes and below the Keynote 3G/4G recommendation of 200 kilobytes.

But the site does not scrimp on content. “The site itself is rather rich in content with many menu and category options, several buttons, a search field, even an e-mail entry field for subscribing to its e-newsletter,” says Matt Agnoli, web performance evangelist at Keynote.

One way Toolfetch.com achieves such a rich site with few HTTP server requests is through its excellent use of a coding method called Data Uniform Resource Identifier (Data URI), Agnoli says, which groups elements and codes them directly into the HTML or CSS file. This way, the web browser only makes one server request for the HTML or CSS file rather than multiple server requests for each individual file, which slows mobile page loads.

“Because of this, all core page content is loaded in around one second over 4G LTE-enabled mobile networks and in three to four seconds over slower 3G mobile networks,” Agnoli says. “Having such a fast, stable and reliable site is sure to please both new and returning customers as well as keep Toolfetch.com at the top of the mobile commerce index.”

Toolfetch.com redesigned its mobile site in July 2013, and did an Internet Retailer-estimated $2.65 million in mobile sales that year, an increase of 130% from 2012, according to the 2014 Internet Retailer Mobile 500.

"We aimed to keep the homepage stripped down to the necessities," says Andrew Brown, co-founder and CEO. "This allows us to remove any unnecessary content like JavaScript/image calls to outside domains. Anything that is needed for our mobile homepage we have saved locally on our servers so that we can serve those files up from our domain."

To see complete results (including response time, site availability, page weight in kilobytes, total page elements, and index score) for all 30 retailers on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index, click here.

Keynote measures, exclusively for Internet Retailer, 28 standalone m-commerce sites optimized for smartphones and two responsive design sites, which are single sites that render content in ways that fit the screen size of a device, including desktop PCs, tablets, smartphones and smart TVs. For the index, Keynote measures the smartphone versions of the responsive sites.

The 30 representative 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 EDT, emulating the Apple iPhone 5 smartphone on two wireless networks: AT&T and Sprint, both using 3G, 4G and 4G LTE networks. Keynote runs the tests in Dallas, 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.

Today, 20% of U.S. Internet-enabled mobile phone users have 4G or 4G LTE wireless data connections, 71% have 3G, and 9% have 2G, according to research firm Informa Telecoms & Media. And according to research and consulting firm Deloitte, 63% of U.S. smartphone users most often connect to the web on their devices on a Wi-Fi network.

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