January 2, 2014, 11:25 AM

CVS shaves nearly a second off mobile page loading over Christmas

The retailer’s average page load time was 6.57 seconds over the week ended Dec. 29, compared with an average 7.00 seconds for the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index. It jumped up 14 spots in the index as a result.

Lead Photo

CVS' iPhone app

While some mobile site operators may have kicked back over the holidays, the crew at drugstore chain CVS was busy cleaning up its smartphone site for the last handful of holiday shoppers. As a result, it cut nearly a full second off its average mobile page load time, which clocked in at 6.57 seconds for the week ended Dec. 29, according to the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index. The average mobile page load time for all 30 retailers in the index that week was 7.00 seconds, Keynote says.

“Over the last week, CVS shaved almost one second from its page load time by taking advantage of much faster initial page response time from its servers and much better [content delivery network] usage by the UsableNet platform,” says Abelardo Gonzalez, mobile performance evangelist for web and mobile performance monitoring firm Keynote Systems Inc. He adds that CVS cut the load time of its base mobile web page—the site without any separately loading elements like images or videos—in half, to under 0.2 seconds, and improved the speed with which all the page elements loaded.

CVS declines to comment on its mobile performance metrics or vendor relationships specifically, but a spokeswoman says the improved page loads came from regular maintenance to the smartphone site.

Meanwhile, for the second week in a row Sears.com, a unit of Sears Holdings Corp., ranked first in the index with a mobile site response time of 3.17 seconds on average, a success rate of 99.87% and a score of 977, up from 942 in the prior week. A site’s success rate refers to the percentage of time in which it loads properly. One retailer in the index, HSN, had a rare 100% success rate score in the week ended Dec. 29. The average success rate for all retailers in the index that week was 99.3%. The average score was 769.

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 Amazon.com Inc. to mid-sized retailers like Toolfetch.com 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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