September 20, 2010, 4:16 PM

An m-commerce page in 3.18 seconds

Retailers take note: That’s how fast Walmart.com’s mobile home page is loading.

Lead Photo

Walmart.com's m-commerce site home page (left) takes a minimalist approach compared with Rugby's.

Slow page loads are the bane of mobile web users. If I’m sitting there waiting, and waiting, half the time I just say forget it and go on to something else.

Walmart.com mobile shoppers had nothing to complain about last week when it came to site performance. The retailer scored a perfect 1,000 out of 1,000 points on the current Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index, provided exclusively to Internet Retailer. Its mobile home page loaded in 3.18 seconds and did so successfully 99.37% of the time. You can’t get much better than that.

What I’d like to point out is page content, which makes all the difference in the world. Take a look at the pictures on the right. The Walmart.com mobile home page is utilitarian. Site search and store locator on top, then categories you can touch to drill down, including Value of the Day, Rollbacks, Top Rated & Best Sellers, Local Ad, Shopping List and Order History. The key here is this makes sense for the Walmart.com shopper. They don’t need fancy imagery or rotating hero shots. They generally know what they’re looking for and just need a quick way to get there. So an ultra-light page makes sense—and makes for great performance.

Now take a look at the other picture, the mobile home page of Polo Ralph Lauren’s Rugby store. It is fancy, colorful and sharp. Big boxes filled with beautiful models in the latest fashions. And what you don’t see there is the four more boxes just like the two on top that appear below Shop Men. This fits the Rugby shopper, who is going to be looking for great images and catalog-like displays. This is not your Walmart.com shopper. What’s amazing is the Rugby mobile home page loads in around 4 seconds, not much more than Walmart.com’s 3.18 seconds. This means that Rugby is greatly optimizing its images for mobile downloading, making them as small in kilobyte size without losing clarity. It’s quite an achievement in the mobile realm.

If you’ve got a smartphone, these are two great m-commerce sites to study.

So you want to make sure your mobile site meets your customers’ design expectations. At the same time, you want to make sure your mobile site meets your customers’ performance expectations. You’ve got to walk a fine line to make this happen, and you’ve got to know m-commerce design to do it right. To learn more about m-commerce design and performance, attend the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Forum next month. The best experts will be there to share best practices and tips and tricks. Don’t miss it.

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