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Sears tweaks to mobile site improve performance in time for holiday rush

September 29, 2011

By reducing the number of elements on its mobile site, Sears has improved both the performance and variability of the destination, according to Keynote Systems Inc.

The tweaks to the mobile site, which Sears is keeping mum about, helped the retailer top Keynote’s mobile ranking index. Other retailers need to be making tweaks to their mobile sites as well, especially with the holidays right around the corner.

“Without talking to Sears we will not know what the exact changes were,” said Haroon Chohan, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote, San Mateo, CA. “Plus from what I understand, Sears has gone silent so I don’t think they will disclose to us what changes they made.

“Analyzing the data from when they were experiencing high load times, you can see that there are a number of resources being called before the base page starts to load,” he said. “The base page is taking long to load as well. After the improvement, fewer objects are being called at the top of the page and the base page is loading a lot faster in most cases.

“After reviewing the data, I would assume they changed the way the page is constructed and how the content loads. That would definitely impact load times and that is about as much insight we would have without talking to them.”

According to Keynote, Sears’ mobile commerce Web site’s homepage loaded in about 3.6 seconds on average. It loaded successfully approximately 99 percent of the time, scoring 988 out of a possible 1,000 points.

Keynote mobile commerce week ending Sept. 25, 2011

The homepage made drastic improvements after the changes.

This graph shows overall Web site speed before the changes were made to the mobile site

The difference in overall Web site speed after the tweaks were made

Lessons learned
In a recent survey by PayPal, 46 percent of respondents said that they plan to make holiday purchases with a mobile device this year.

With mobile commerce becoming more prevalent and both tablets and smartphones being widely adopted by consumers, retailers must pay attention to their mobile customers to stay ahead of the competition. Online retailers should begin to prepare for the upcoming holiday season by making small tweaks to improve the performace of their mobile Web sites.

“Major causes of mobile Web sites slowing down, other than carrier issues, can be attributed to how the page is constructed, the page content itself and if the site is optimized for various mobile devices,” Mr. Chohan said. “Because retailers can’t control what happens on carrier networks, they have to pay attention to what they do control.

“Managing the content that makes up the mobile Web site and understanding how it gets delivered and presented on various mobile devices is very important,” he said.

Final Take
Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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