December 27, 2013, 12:31 PM

Retailers prep mobile sites for final holiday sales push

All of the five top-ranked retailers in the mobile commerce index this week use strategies to help make their mobile sites load quickly and accurately, Keynote says.

Lead Photo

Sears' mobile web site

Just as many e-retailers prepare their e-commerce sites for the online holiday sales season by making sure they load quickly and accurately, at least some retailers extended those site design and performance best practices to their mobile commerce sites as well this December, according to web performance monitoring firm Keynote Systems Inc.

Four out of the top five retailers as ranked on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance index in the week leading up to Christmas had only small variations in page size and speed from a week earlier, says Abelardo Gonzalez, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote. Additionally, the top five retailers in the index for the week ending Dec. 22  were all in the top five the previous week as well.

"The retailers took advantage of mobile page design web practices—such as minimizing the number of objects and page size—to deliver a consistent and reliable experience,” he says.

The one exception was J.C. Penney Co. Inc.’s, he says, which had a much higher object count, page size and slower load time compared to last week. While slower to load,  the mobile site loaded properly 100% of the time, Keynote says. J.C. Penney uses content delivery network Akamai to help ensure all elements render properly on its mobile site. J.C. Penney’s reliability rating helped it maintain its spot in the top five retailers in the index of 30 mobile retailers, Gonzalez says. J.C. Penny did not immediately respond to a request to comment on its mobile site performance., a unit of Sears Holdings Corp., topped the mobile performance index for the week ending Dec. 22 with an m-commerce site home page load time of 3.40 seconds, a success rate of 99.88% and a score of 942. J.C. Penney came in second with a load time of 5.42 seconds, a success rate of 100% and a score of 935. And W.W. Grainger Inc. came in third with a load time of 4.11 seconds, a success rate of 99.88% and a score of 926.

The index average load time was 7.88 seconds, the average success rate was 99.54% and the average score was 709.

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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