November 3, 2010, 3:00 PM

How quickly should an m-commerce site download?

Seconds counts, and retailers should keep them to a minimum.

Lead Photo

Last week, the m-commerce site home page of StrandBooks.com downloaded on average in 2.54 seconds.

Last week, the m-commerce site home page of StrandBooks.com downloaded on average in 2.54 seconds, according to the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index, provided exclusively to Internet Retailer by mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc. StrandBooks.com topped the index. The average download time for all 15 m-commerce sites on the index was 5.47 seconds.

People do not show much patience for mobile site downloading. In fact, a recent study from web and mobile web performance firm Gomez found that many mobile web users expect sites to download at least as fast or even faster than conventional sites on PCs. Wireless connections are by their nature not as quick as land-line connections; still, the expectation is there. And I have to admit I’m one of those people who expects equivalent speed.

I use an iPhone 4 on a 3G wireless network, though more often than not I’m on a Wi-Fi connection at work and home, which really boosts speed. The Keynote index measures sites on three different phones using three different operating systems on three different 3G networks. I did some testing of my own, turning off Wi-Fi and running on 3G, and I found that mobile sites from various industries downloaded in 2.5 seconds to 8 seconds. I found myself getting antsy at 6 seconds.

Am I simply patient to be satisfied with 5 seconds? Needless to say, I prefer 2.5 seconds. But 5 seconds didn’t really bother me.

Mobile commerce site performance is new, and I have yet to see benchmarks for optimal site performance. This is one reason why Internet Retailer teamed with Keynote Systems to create the weekly index. Is the index average of 5.47 seconds good enough? Is StrandBooks.com’s 2.54 seconds unusually fast? What should retailers be aiming for when it comes to page download times?

Just like speedy checkout, excellent site performance is key in m-commerce. Please share your thoughts on this important subject to see if we can reach an informal consensus on what retailers believe should be the page download time target in seconds.

Just remember: The longer you make people wait, the greater the chance you may lose a customer.

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