CVS’ mobile site continues to speed up

Although the mobile site of CVS takes 8.18 seconds to load, the m-commerce site continues its march to the top of the Keynote Mobile Index.

Abby Callard

Sometimes, the order of things is more important than the things themselves. That’s true this week of CVS’ mobile home page. Although the site loads slower, is heavier and has more elements than recommended, the site jumped four spots in this week’s index.

“CVS, though not following all of the Keynote’s recommended best practices, does get one very important aspect right—the sequence of how the objects are loaded,” says Krishna Reddy, web and mobile performance evangelist at mobile and web performance testing, monitoring and analytics firm Keynote.

CVS’ mobile home page loads all of the content hosted on its own servers first, followed by third-party content from such providers as social networks. “It’s a well-established fact that most of these third-party content providers increase the web site’s load times and often have availability issues of their own,” Reddy says. “It therefore becomes critical for companies to make sure that any deteriorated site performance caused by third-party content is not observed by their users. The third-party content should be the last elements to be loaded. By doing this, any issues with third-party content would not be observed by the web site’s visitor. CVS loads its third-party content towards the end, after most of its host content loads, thus hiding any issues that third-party content might present.”

For the week ending Aug. 17, CVS’ mobile home page loaded on average in 8.18 seconds, a drop of 410 milliseconds, according to the Internet Retailer-exclusive Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index. Mobile and web performance management firm Keynote recommends a maximum page load time of 4.5 seconds on a blend of 3G and 4G networks, which is how the index measures mobile sites. The average mobile page load time for all 30 retailers on the index for the week ending Aug. 17 is 11.62 seconds.

CVS was No. 4 on the Keynote index for the week ending Aug. 17. Sears Holdings Corp. topped the index with a load time of 2.19 seconds, a success rate of 99.80%, and a score of 994 out of 1,000. (Keynote equally weights and combines load time and success rate to achieve a score). The Sears m-commerce site home page contains seven page elements that together weigh 51 kilobytes.

A CVS spokesperson says the company does not comment on its mobile strategy but says that the company believes loading its content first followed by third-party content “demonstrates best practices for loading content to a mobile site.”

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 stand-alone 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.



CVS, e-commerce, Keynote Index, m-commece, mobile commerce, mobile site performance