January 11, 2012, 12:13 PM

Sears is back on top of m-commerce site performance index

Sears has held the No. 1 spot for 12 of the last 16 weeks.

Lead Photo

The merchant's m-commerce site home page loads on average in a very swift 3.29 seconds.

If there’s one thing one can say about the performance of Sears Holdings Corp.’s m-commerce site, it’s that the site is consistent—and consistently outstanding.

On this week’s Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index, Sears moved up two positions to regain the No. 1 spot. It has held that spot for 12 of the last 16 weeks, and it has ranked in the top five since September 2011.

For the week ending January 8, the amount of time it took for the Sears mobile site to load on a smartphone was 3.29 seconds, very swift by mobile standards. And the site loaded successfully 99.11% of the time, a very high reliability figure. By comparison, the average load time for all 30 retailers on the index was 8.99 seconds and the average success rate was 98.35%.

So how does Sears do it? Mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc. explains.

“Sears has kept its m-commerce site lean and efficient,” says Herman Ng, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote. “On the Sears home page optimized for smartphones, its took only four server requests to download the entire page. For page content images such as the Sears logo, icons and buttons, the company has embedded them into its HTML base page to reduce the number of round-trip transfers of page objects. Sears also keeps embedded objects very small. Except for the logo image, which is 3.6 kilobytes, the embedded objects on the page average less than 0.9 kilobytes each.”

Sears has optimized pages for smartphones and for feature phones, the less powerful web-enabled devices that preceded smartphones. Sears servers automatically detect the type of device making a request and serve up the appropriate pages.

“The Sears page optimized for feature phones is even lighter than the one for smartphones and takes only two server requests to download the entire page; there are no embedded objects, and no images on the page,” Ng explains. “As a result, the Sears page optimized for feature phones is only 2,414 kilobytes, which makes it very efficient for transporting data to feature phones that only support relatively lower data speeds such as wireless 2G networks. But Sears still provides all the functionality that an end user has come to expect on a well-designed m-commerce page such as browse, search, find a store, ads and sign-in.”

Sears did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Click here and then click on Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index Part 1 and Part 2 to see this week’s complete results for all 30 retailers on the index.

Keynote Systems measures 30 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 Amazon.com Inc., Sears Holdings Corp. and 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., to midsized retailers like Sunglass Hut and Toolfetch.com LLC. Keynote tests the sites in the index every hour Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. through midnight Eastern time, emulating four different smartphones on four different wireless networks: Apple Inc.’s iPhone 4 on AT&T, the HTC Evo on Sprint, the BlackBerry Curve on T-Mobile and the Droid X on Verizon. The HTC Evo and the Droid X run Google Inc.’s Android operating system. Keynote runs the tests in Chicago, Dallas, 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.

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