The drugstore chain’s mobile site went down for several hours Nov. 22.
Katie Evans , Managing Editor, International Research
Consumers may wait just a tad bit longer for a mobile site to load than a traditional e-commerce site. For example, they may blame the slow speed on attempting to access the site via a 4G connection during a time many consumers access the web via their smartphones, such as during prime commuting hours. However, if an m-commerce site flat out does not load, then there is no chance of the retailer capturing a sale, no matter how patient the mobile visitor.
Site availability issues are precisely what plagued drugstore chain CVS.com’s mobile site last week. The site not loading on Nov. 22 was the main culprit for it falling from No. 12 in the Keynote Index last week to No. 27 in the index for the week ending Nov. 24.
For about six hours on Nov. 22, the site was completely down and displaying to consumers a “page not found” error, says Abelardo Gonzalez, mobile performance evangelist for web and mobile performance management firm Keynote Systems. According to Keynote, the site outage occurred during a period when CVS was updating its mobile home page to reduce the size of the page from 260 kilobytes to 220 kilobytes and to remove four elements.
“Users attempting to access the CVS site were greeted with just an HTTP error instead of a maintenance page, as would be expected during schedule site outages,” Gonzalez says. “After the site changes, CVS did benefit from a slight reduction in page load time, but it was not significant enough to counterbalance the six-hour outage."
The average time it took to load CVS.com’s mobile home page was 8.68 seconds on average for the week ending Nov. 24. The site loaded successfully 96.41% of the time. The retailer’s mobile home page contains 30 elements and weighs 237 kilobytes.
CVS did not immediately provide a comment on its mobile site performance.
Toolfetch LLC topped the Keynote index with a load time of 3.27 seconds and a success rate of 99.88% for a score of 983; its mobile home page contains six page elements and weighs 61 kilobytes. Sears Holdings Corp. came in second with a load time of 3.89 seconds and a success rate of 99.77% for a score of 938; its mobile home page contains six page elements and weighs 69 kilobytes.
CVS is No. 89 in the recently published 2014 Internet Retailer Mobile 500, Sears Holdings Corp. No. 30, and Toolfetch LLC 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.