June 4, 2013, 1:11 PM

Foot Locker improves its mobile site performance but remains slow

Too many objects and files increase page load times, Keynote says.

Foot Locker Inc. shot up 15 spots in the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending June 2 mainly thanks to  much-improved m-commerce site availability. The chain retailer’s m-commerce site home page was available 99.14% of the time, compared with only 95.89% the previous week, reports mobile and web performance management firm Keynote. The mobile commerce home page loaded on average in 17.99 seconds, compared with 18.83 seconds the week prior. 17.99 seconds is very slow compared with the quickest load time on the index, 2.06 seconds, and the average load time on the 30-retailer index, 9.43 seconds.

The apparel retailer’s m-commerce site home page loads slowly because of an abundance of page objects and Cascading Style Sheet, or CSS, and JavaScript files, says Haroon Chohan, mobile and web performance expert at Keynote.

An object is an item used to construct a web page; examples of objects include an image, a box of text and a JavaScript file. Foot Locker’s m-commerce site home page requires more than 50 objects be loaded from the server into a mobile web browser to render the page, Chohan says. An ideal number of objects for a mobile home page that loads quickly is 10, he adds.

“Not only is the number of objects an issue but the page construction needs to be reevaluated as well,” Chohan says. “There are lots of CSS and JavaScript files that load first, which when it comes to optimizing a site is not a good practice and is especially bad for a mobile page since signal strength and carrier speeds can be inconsistent. Lots of CSS and JavaScript files at the beginning of a page load can cause the page to load slow and impact the overall end user experience.”

Chohan advises combining many of the CSS files into fewer files, which means fewer HTTP requests to the server for content; fewer server requests translates into faster page load speeds. He also says JavaScript files should be the last objects to load on a mobile page, not the first.

“JavaScript files should be loading at or close to the end of the page and should be merged together if possible,” he says. “This is because if a JavaScript file fails to load or has latency issues, it will prevent all other objects after it from loading until it has finished executing. This will impact how the end user sees and interacts with the page.”

Foot Locker did not respond to a request for comment.

Barnes & Noble topped the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending June 2 with a load time of 4.96 seconds and a success rate of 99.68%. Weighting and then combining load time and success rate earns the merchant an index score of 960 out of 1,000. Rakuten Shopping came in second with a load time of 6.80 seconds and a success rate of 99.67% for a score of 933. And Amazon.com Inc. came in third with a load time of 6.24 seconds and a success rate of 99.58% for a score of 920.

Foot Locker is No. 23 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400, BarnesandNoble.com Inc. is No. 31, Rakuten Shopping is No. 30 and Amazon.com is No. 1.

The index average load time was 9.43 seconds, the average success rate was 98.73% and the average score was 694.

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.

Keynote is ranked No. 2 among web performance monitoring firms in Internet Retailer’s Leading Vendors to the Top 1000 E-retailers guide.

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