GNC bulks up its m-commerce site, and suffers for it

A 1-megabyte mobile home page takes an intolerable 30 seconds to load, Keynote says.

Bill Siwicki

It’s possible General Nutrition Centers Inc.’s mobile commerce web site got a hold of some of the supplements it sells to boost muscle mass—and overdid it.

A fit and trim m-commerce site home page with just the right amount of muscle mass weighs in between 100 kilobytes to 150 kilobytes—anything more is overkill, say experts at mobile and web performance management firm Keynote. In late September, GNC’s mobile home page weighed just under 500 kilobytes, ballooning up to a huge 1 megabyte last week, Keynote reports.

“This has caused a marked increase in the overall time it takes to load the mobile home page,” says Abelardo Gonzalez, mobile performance expert at Keynote. “With mobile consumers expecting fast and available sites on their devices when they are on the go, the GNC average download time of just over 30 seconds is fairly unacceptable performance, and very likely caused many potential customers to become frustrated and abandon the site.”

GNC did not respond to a request for comment on page changes and mobile performance. Last week, on average, its mobile home page loaded in 31.69 seconds and it did so completely and successfully 95.24% of the time, according to the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending Oct. 20. Weighting and then combining load time and success rate earned the retailer an index score of 628 out of 1,000, putting it at position No. 28 out of the 30 retailers tracked by the index.

Toolfetch.com LLC topped the Keynote index with a load time of 3.43 seconds and a success rate of 98.41% for a score of 991. Sears Holdings Corp. came in second with a load time of 4.51 seconds and a success rate of 99.80% for a score of 987. And W.W. Grainger Inc. came in third with a load time of 5.23 seconds and a success rate of 99.49% for a score of 976.

The index average load time was 13.39 seconds, the average success rate was 94.41% and the average score was 845.

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 4G 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.


Abelardo Gonzalez, Keynote, m-commerce, m-commerce site, m-commerce site performance, mobile commerce, mobile design, performance, smartphones