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Sears, Amazon and Best Buy score high in mobile performance for Black Friday weekend

November 28, 2011

Mobile traffic was up on Black Friday as consumers looked for the best deals

Sears, Amazon and BestBuy had the highest-ranking mobile commerce sites for Black Friday, according to the Compuware Gomez Performance Satisfaction Index.

Overall, leading retailers’ mobile site home pages fared better this year, with an increase in performance satisfaction on the day after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, compared to a non-peak period. Only one retailer’s site showed a decrease in performance satisfaction that day, according to Compuware Gomez.

The strong performance is especially significant in light of the fact that the number of people shopping via mobile almost tripled from last year at this time to reach a total of 11 percent.

The penetration of smartphones has also increased significantly since last year, enabling consumers to engage in a wider array of shopping activities via mobile, including comparing prices, watching informative videos and scanning universal product codes, another reason the strong performance in mobile is significant.

The findings reflect data gathered by Compuware Gomez, Lexington, MA, from 12 am ET to 11:59 pm ET on Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving.

A smaller byte
Retailers increasingly realize the importance of providing a good mobile experience the day after Thanksgiving, when many consumers look to take advantage of special offers to purchase gifts for the holidays. Increasingly, consumers use their mobile phones to help them find stores and deals, compare prices while in a store and make purchases.

To address the growing use of mobile for shopping purposes, five retailers decreased the byte size for their mobile sites between the baseline period and the day after Thanksgiving, according to Compuware Gomez. This indicates that these retailers wanted to improve page load speeds for this peak shopping period by reducing the byte size for their home pages.

However, some of the leading retailers left shoppers of their traditional e-commerce Web sites frustrated with slow performance and periodic outages.

Overall, the top 50 retailers displayed on average an 11 percent degradation in performance satisfaction for the day after Thanksgiving, according to Compuware Gomez. There was a 19 percent degradation between 8 pm ET Thursday and 8 am ET Friday.

Page load times were one major issue for some retailers, with the time it takes to load a page increasing as much as 21 percent for the top 50 retailers and just 11 percent for the top 10.

Performance is an important issue for retailers because if their mobile sites and traditional desktop sites are slow to load or do not provide an easy-to-use shopping experience during this weekend and throughout the holiday shopping season, consumers  may take their shopping activity elsewhere.

In previous holiday seasons, mobile users often had to shop a retailer’s Web site designed for desktop use, which meant the mobile experience was slow and difficult to navigate.

So far this year, overall performance for mobile sites has improved compared with last year now that many of the top retailers have launched dedicated mobile sites or updated older mobile sites.

However, every year there are mishaps because mobile is a complex ecosystem and problems can arise at any point, including carriers and third-party providers. For example, retailers such as JCPenney and American Eagle experienced mobile outages last year that cost them business during the critical holiday shopping period.

While performance was strong for retailers’ mobile sites the day after Thanksgiving, it is still early in the holiday shopping season and mishaps could still occur.

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