April 5, 2012, 1:00 PM

Office Depot’s m-commerce site reliability soars

Last week the site loaded successfully 99.63% of the time, Keynote says.

It doesn’t do a retailer any good if its mobile commerce web site doesn’t load completely and successfully, or worse, delivers an error message on an empty page. Office Depot Inc.’s m-commerce site success rate for loading its home page for the week ending March 25 was a very weak 94.79%. But last week the success rate jumped to a powerful 99.63%. That, combined with the average page load time improving from 4.62 seconds to 4.50 seconds, pushed Office Depot up 20 spots to No. 2 on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending April 1.

Mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc. found two primary reasons for the success of Office Depot, No. 53 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300.

First, the response time for what is known as the “first byte download” improved. The first byte download is the time it takes for a mobile web browser to receive from a web server the first packet of data to build the web site. Second, the time it took to redirect consumers typing in the standard site URL, OfficeDepot.com, to the mobile-optimized site, m.OfficeDepot.com, decreased compared to the previous week.

“Slow first byte download and redirection times can be symptoms of web server issues,” says Haroon Chohan, mobile and web performance expert at Keynote Systems. “Overall, the improved success rate is because there was only one failed request to load the page during the entire week last week. Whatever changes Office Depot may have made resulted in significant improvement in availability, and that was reflected in this week’s overall index rankings.”

Office Depot credits teamwork and a serious investment in mobile commerce for the success.

“Our e-commerce team made a strategic decision to bring all aspects of our mobile site in-house this year,” says Carl Brisco, director of e-commerce. “This move allowed us to put the same focus on performance and availability on mobile as we do with our main web site. The collaborative efforts of our internal I.T. teams and external monitoring in addition to our content delivery network partners allowed us to identify and isolate performance issues and quickly address any problems. We are dedicated to providing the best customer experience across all our channels and our recent mobile wins clearly demonstrate this commitment.”

Sears Holdings Corp. came in first with a load time of 3.13 seconds and a success rate of 99.46% for a score of 987 out of 1,000. Office Depot came in second with a score of 966. Toolfetch.com LLC came in third with a load time of 3.77 seconds and a success rate of 99.01% for a score of 951. Sears is No. 21 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300. Toolfetch.com is No. 215.

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 multiple categories and channels, and of multiple 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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