October 6, 2010, 3:48 PM

Walmart.com dressed for success in mobile performance

The retailer’s mobile site design helps keep page load times to a minimum, index shows.

Lead Photo

Walmart.com’s m-commerce site home page the week of Sept. 27 downloaded on average in a quick 3.22 seconds and did so successfully 98.99% of the time.

Walmart.com has designed a mobile commerce site home page that is what mobile design experts call “light”—only a few small graphic elements, emphasis on text in category listings, a site search box. This kind of design helps keep page download times to a minimum, and it has helped keep Walmart.com at the top of the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index, research exclusive to Internet Retailer.

Walmart.com’s m-commerce site home page the week of Sept. 27 downloaded on average in a quick 3.22 seconds and did so successfully 98.99% of the time. It earned an index score of 985 out of 1,000. Mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc. equally weights then combines load time and success rate to issue a score. Two weeks ago Walmart.com achieved a perfect score.

Close on Walmart.com’s heels, StrandBooks.com earned a score of 924; its mobile home page download time was 3.34 seconds and its success rate was 98.31%. Barnes & Noble came in third with a score of 857; its home page downloaded in 4.66 seconds with a success rate of 98.51 seconds.

Coming in fourth was Walgreens with a score of 848; its m-commerce site home page downloaded in 5.63 seconds with a success rate of 99.18%. And fifth place went to Target with a score of 798; its mobile home page downloaded in 5.21 seconds with a success rate of 98.21%. Click here and select Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index to see complete results for all of the index’s 15 merchants for the week beginning Sept. 27.

For retailers that slipped a bit on this week’s index, Keynote says it could be for a variety of reasons. One such reason could be web server issues.

“A downward performance trend can be an early warning sign of web server problems, even if the availability of the site is high,” says Herman Ng, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote Systems. “For example, an intermittent, un-retrievable image or object on a page does not necessarily break the site or affect user experience too much, or bring down overall availability. But when this problem spreads out from that one image to other objects on the site being un-retrievable from the server including the base page, then it can very quickly become a critical performance issue. Therefore, catching individual content errors early, which mobile site monitoring helps identify easily, and fixing them right away, is just as important as maintaining high uptime of the web server.”

The index average for the week was 746, up 19 points from the previous week. The average m-commerce site home page load time was 5.61 seconds and the average success rate was 97.86%.

Keynote Systems measures 15 representative m-commerce sites exclusively for Internet Retailer. The sites include merchants in various categories and channels, and of various sizes, ranging from such giants as Best Buy and Foot Locker to midsized retailers like Sunglass Hut and Toolfetch.com.

Keynote repeatedly tests the sites in the index Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. through midnight Eastern time, emulating three different smartphones on three different wireless networks: the iPhone on AT&T, the BlackBerry Curve on Sprint and the Droid (which uses the Android operating system) on Verizon. Keynote combines a site’s load time and success rate, equally weighted, into a single score. Given 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’s average score is the midpoint among all the sites’ scores.

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