November 14, 2013, 12:59 PM

Sports Authority’s m-commerce site could use some exercise

Despite being heavy, it still bests the average performance on a mobile index.

Lead Photo

The retailer's m-commerce site home page loads on average in 9.45 seconds, Keynote says.

To achieve peak performance—the speediest page load times and the highest site availability percentages—a retailer should limit mobile commerce web site pages to no more than 100 kilobytes in page weight and no more than 25 page elements (such as images and scripts), mobile and web performance management firm Keynote recommends.

The m-commerce site home page of The Sports Authority Inc. weighs in at a hefty 643 kilobytes and includes 41 page elements, according to the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending Nov. 10.

“Sports Authority has one of the seven sites on the 30-retailer index with more than 500 kilobytes of content and one of the 10 sites with more than 40 page elements,” says Herman Ng, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote. “Upon examining the data we collected closely we noticed that many of the heaviest page elements are hosted on Amazon CloudFront, a content delivery web service. This certainly help speed up the merchant’s mobile home page load time. Retailers can reap great benefits through the use of a content delivery service.”

A content delivery network caches at numerous locations across the country or the globe all the files needed to create a site so that the content is as close to a consumer requesting the site as possible.

The content delivery network may have been the key to Sports Authority’s fair performance numbers despite it offering a bloated home page. For the week ending Nov. 10, the merchant’s m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 9.45 seconds and did so completely and successfully 99.78% of the time, Keynote says. Weighting and combining load time and success rate earned Sports Authority an index score of 668 out of 1,000, just beating the index average score of 658. The index average load time for all 30 retailers was 7.82 seconds and the average success rate was 99.48%.

Sports Authority did not respond to a request for comment. LLC topped the Keynote index with a load time of 3.12 seconds and a success rate of 99.78% for a score of 938; its mobile home page contains seven page elements and weighs 58 kilobytes. Sears Holdings Corp. came in second with a load time of 3.78 seconds and a success rate of 99.90% for a score of 929; its mobile home page contains seven page elements and weighs 94 kilobytes. And Barnes & Noble came in third with a load time of 3.76 seconds and a success rate of 99.67% for a score of 859; its mobile home page contains 13 elements and weighs 64 kilobytes.

The Sports Authority is No. 251 in the recently published 2014 Internet Retailer Mobile 500, No. 352, Sears No. 30 and Inc. No. 41.

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

Keynote 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 Inc. to mid-sized retailers like LLC. Keynote tests the sites in the index every hour Monday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. through midnight Eastern time, emulating two different smartphones on two different wireless networks: Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5 on AT&T and the Samsung Galaxy SIII on T-Mobile, both using 4G networks. 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. To consistently rank high on the Keynote index, sites must hit availability targets of 99.5% or better and be faster than 10 seconds to load on average. Top-performing sites load in under five seconds.

While adoption among U.S. consumers has been steadily rising, only a fraction of all U.S. wireless connections are 4G. Consequently, retailers benchmarking their mobile commerce site performance against the Keynote index should keep in mind that most of their m-commerce site shoppers will experience page load times slower than those on the index.

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