March 9, 2011, 4:06 PM

Toolfetch finds less is more

The retailer boosted its mobile site’s load times by eliminating some recently added features.

Lead Photo LLC recently decided it was time to give its year-old mobile site a makeover. It added a variety of features, including enabling consumers to chat live with a associate.

However, the retailer quickly found that after making those changes, it plummeted in the weekly Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index, which measures the performance of mobile sites. In the week beginning Oct. 11, came in fourth place in the index as its home page downloaded on average in 3.99 seconds and did so successfully 98.16% of the time. By the week beginning Jan. 21, the retailer was No. 14 in the index, loading on average in 5.44 seconds and doing so successfully 96.35% of the time.

“We scratched our heads about the changes we had made,” says Andrew Brown, the retailer’s co-founder and CEO.

To figure out how to fix the problem the retailer turned to Keynote, as well as its Keynote dashboard, which displays the site’s load time, reliability and other metrics in aggregate and by carrier.

Keynote found the site had multiple images that were hosted on multiple domains, rather than its own site, which slowed down the site’s load time because the images had to be gathered from multiple sources. That fix was easy, says Brown, as the retailer could resolve the issue by creating a local version of the images that loaded quicker.

Toolfetch also began testing the effects of each of the changes it had made to its site.

For instance, the retailer found that it took too long to load 15 different categories. It cut the number down to the four most popular ones. The retailer also removed the live chat function.

“We liked the idea of live chat but the script running in the background took way too long to load, regardless of what devices consumers were using,” he says.

The changes helped the retailer return to fourth in the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending March 4, with its home page loading on average in 3.16 seconds and doing so successfully 98.01% of time.

That may be difference between a consumer making a purchase and giving up.

“You can’t expect customers to come to your site and wait for it to load,” says Brown. “They’re not going to wait.”

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