Lean and light is the name of the game for Sears’ mobile site

The chain retailer’s mobile commerce site tops the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the third week in a row with a mixture of functionality and low page weight.

Abby Callard

The mobile commerce web site of Sears Holdings Corp. is a regular fixture at the top of the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index, and this week the chain retailer snagged the No. 1 spot again.

The secret to Sears’ performance success is maximizing functionality without adding additional content download requests, which can slow down page loads, and keeping the home page weight down.

“Sears checks all the right boxes with respect to mobile performance standards,” says Krishna Reddy, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote. “Sears loads in just 2.17 seconds, which is an average of data collected with a blend of network speeds. Hence, you can expect Sears to load much faster purely on a fast 4G LTE network.”

Sears achieves the fast load time by keeping the weight of the home page light, 48 kilobytes, and only using a small number of page elements, just six. Page elements include images and scripts, for example. That contributes to its high success rate of 99.82%.

But the home page is not bare-bones, says Reddy. The home page features such functions as a login button, a search option, a shopping cart button and a navigation menu that leads consumers to other departments within the m-commerce site.

One way Sears manages to cram in functionality while using few page objects is by using image sprites, Reddy says. With image sprites, Sears combines all the icons for the home page—the menu icons and also the Sears logo—in one file, a sprite, that consequently requires just one server request. The placement of the icons is handled in the mobile web browser with Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, a markup language used to define pages and denote where objects appear on a page. Reddy estimates Sears saved at least eight additional HTTP server requests with the image sprite. Also, Sears downloads just one image and no third-party content on the mobile home page, which is highly recommended, Reddy says.

“Sears is definitely an example of excellent mobile performance and functionality,” Reddy says.

Sears is No. 5 in the Internet Retailer Top 500. Imran Jooma, executive vice president of Sears Holdings Corp., says the company is focused on integrating channels as well as experiences for the consumer. “Mobile is at the epicenter and critical to our strategy, as it bridges online and in-store," Jooma says. "We continue to invest and innovate, focusing on delivering highly personalized and relevant experiences for our Shop Your Way members and customers.”

To see complete results (including response time, site availability, page weight in kilobytes, total page elements, and index score) for all 30 retailers on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index, click here.

Keynote measures, exclusively for Internet Retailer, 28 standalone m-commerce sites optimized for smartphones and two responsive design sites, which are single sites that render content in ways that fit the screen size of a device, including desktop PCs, tablets, smartphones and smart TVs. For the index, Keynote measures the smartphone versions of the responsive sites.

The 30 representative 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 EDT, emulating the Apple iPhone 5 smartphone on two wireless networks: AT&T and Sprint, both using 3G, 4G and 4G LTE networks. Keynote runs the tests in Dallas, 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.

Today, 20% of U.S. Internet-enabled mobile phone users have 4G or 4G LTE wireless data connections, 71% have 3G, and 9% have 2G, according to research firm Informa Telecoms & Media. And according to research and consulting firm Deloitte, 63% of U.S. smartphone users most often connect to the web on their devices on a Wi-Fi network.


Keynote, Krishna Reddy, m-commerce, m-commerce site, m-commerce site performance, mobile commerce, performance, Sears