American Eagle Outfitters hits a mobile site performance milestone

The retailer makes its first appearance in the top 10 of a mobile performance index.

Bill Siwicki

American Eagle Outfitters Inc. has not been a top performer in the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index. But for the week ending April 7, the apparel retailer jumped nine spots on the 30-retailer index to make its first appearance in the top 10. Coming in at No. 10, the merchant’s mobile commerce site home page loaded on average in 11.23 seconds and did so completely and successfully 99.87% of the time. Weighting and then combining load time and success rate earns the retailer an index score of 741 out of 1,000.

“American Eagle cut down extra page objects and optimized its site for a better mobile experience,” says Venkatesh Giri, mobile performance expert at Keynote. “Its mobile home page is serving up 30 objects which add up to 220 kilobytes.” Page objects include, among other things, images, boxes of text, tracking pixels and JavaScript.

American Eagle Outfitters is making use of some mobile design techniques that greatly aid performance. For example, it has combined all of the icons and images on the page into a sprite file, Keynote says. A sprite is a web programming technique that enables multiple images to be saved as one, thus reducing the number of web server calls required, and as a result shaving time off of page loads.

The merchant also is using a technique called data URI, Keynote says. URI stands for universal resource identifier, a string of characters used to identify a web resource such as an image. Data URI is a scheme of encoding data within a web page that make up page elements such as images or Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, a mark-up language used to define pages and denote where elements appear on a page. With multiple elements encoded within a page, no extra HTTP server request is made to fetch the embedded elements as opposed to a request for each element.

Keynote adds that the images on the m-commerce site home page are scaled properly to render on a smartphone screen.

“Cutting down on unwanted objects without compromising the look and functionality of the site is the first and foremost mobile optimization technique that improves page load times and provides customers with a great mobile experience,” Giri says. “American Eagle has done an admirable job.”

American Eagle Outfitters, No. 118 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400, did not respond to a request for comment.

Barnes & Noble topped the index with a load time of 4.43 seconds and a success rate of 99.87% for a score of 950. W.W. Grainger Inc. came in second with a load time of 4.26 seconds and a success rate of 99.50% for a score of 842. And HSN Inc. came in third with a load time of 6.84 seconds and a success rate of 99.75% for a score of 838.

BarnesandNoble.com Inc. is No. 31 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400, Grainger is No. 76 and HSN is No. 14.

The index average load time was 8.85 seconds, the average success rate was 99.33% and the average score was 648.

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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