September 5, 2012, 11:55 AM

Grainger cuts mobile page load time in half

But a page error hampers m-commerce site performance, Keynote Systems says.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

The merchant's m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 4.94 seconds.

Tools and supplies retailer W.W. Grainger Inc. cut the time it takes to load its mobile commerce site home page from 9.80 seconds for the week ending Aug. 26 to 4.94 seconds for the week ending Sept. 2 on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index. It did so by making significant changes to the structure of the page.

Everything changed the evening of August 24, mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc. reports. Grainger cut the number of page objects—such as images or boxes of text—from 39 to 12, which in turn reduced the number of kilobytes from 220 to 65, making for a much lighter page, Keynote says. “That’s a huge difference,” says Joe Flake, web and mobile performance expert at Keynote.

But an error prevented Grainger from greatly improving its overall performance rating. On August 31, the m-commerce site delivered a 503 error, which means the site either was temporarily overloaded or down for maintenance, Flake says. Because Keynote weights then combines page load time and success rate—the percentage of the time a page is completely and successfully downloaded—Grainger’s overall performance did not shoot up because the page error hampered the success rate.

Along with the 4.94-second page load time, Grainger had a success rate of 98.26%, earning it an index score of 404 out of 1,000 and position 28 out of the 30 retailers on the index.

If Grainger did not have the page error, it could have placed much higher on the index, Flake says. “Grainger is settling in with a new site structure and is readying itself to climb the index,” he says.

Grainger declined to comment.

Office Depot Inc. topped the index for the week ending Sept. 2. Its load time was 2.81 seconds and its success rate was 100% earning it a score of 991 out of 1,000. Toolfetch.com LLC came in second with a load time of 2.59 seconds and a success rate of 99.89% for a score of 967. And HSN Inc. came in third with a load time of 4.17 seconds and a success rate of 100% for a score of 936.

The average load time for all 30 retailers in the index was 6.97 seconds, the average success rate was 99.39% and the average score was 647.

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. to midsized retailers like Toolfetch.com LLC. Keynote tests the sites in the index every hour Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. through midnight Eastern time, emulating three different smartphones on three different wireless networks: Apple Inc.’s iPhone 4 on AT&T, the HTC Evo on Sprint 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 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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