Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Mobile Web performance should be top priority for banks and retailers: Gomez

Most banks simply do not have the time or the resources to optimize mobile Web performance across every single mobile browser and browser/device combination available today. Instead, banks must know which browsers and devices are used most by their customers and prioritize performance improvements accordingly. 

“Gomez’s new benchmarks were designed with this in mind – they provide insight to banks about how their mobile Web performance is stacking up against the competition across four different carrier and device combinations, including AT&T/iPhone, Verizon/Droid, T-Mobile/HTC Dream and Sprint/HTC Hero,” said Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez, Yarmouth, MA.

“In addition, a ‘Rank of Ranks’ aggregates the results of these multiple tests, providing banks with a single snapshot to quickly compare their overall mobile web performance to top competitors,” he said. “We’ve also expanded the list of retail banks included on the benchmark, providing a more comprehensive competitive landscape.”

These same attributes apply to the newly expanded mobile Web in retail benchmarks, which provide retailers with a an understanding of previous performance levels as well as performance across mobile platforms in comparison to key competitors and industry leaders, just in time for the holiday season. 

Earlier this year, Motorola released its annual research study of holiday shoppers, which found that more than half (51 percent) used their mobile phones for in-store activities such as comparison shopping and getting peer feedback. 

Given the rapid pace of smartphone adoption, this percentage is only likely to increase, signaling that retailers must deliver superior mobile Web experiences to their most important customer segments or risk losing revenue opportunities.

Mobile Commerce Daily interviewed Mr. Poepsel. Here is what he said:

What trends are you seeing with regards to the mobile Web in banking?
With the publishing of our first “Rank of Ranks” across four mobile Web platforms and covering an expanded list of retail banks, we have  significantly reshuffled the deck in terms of creating a new mobile Web performance industry standard. 

Some banks, which have traditionally appeared on the top of our previous mobile benchmarks, now find themselves being ranked more stringently against their competitors.

For the first half of August (Aug. 8-22), the top 15 banks delivered the strongest overall mobile Web site performance on the AT&T/iPhone platform, with several banks achieving the “gold standard” of a sub-three second response time. 

Meanwhile, the T-Mobile/HTC Dream platform was the most challenging for the banks, with the average response time exceeding ten seconds. 

This may be due to the fact that many T-Mobile users are still on a 2G network.

The mobile Web “Rank of Ranks” leader for the first half of August Capital One, delivered the best response time on this platform (slightly more than six seconds, in contrast to three-four seconds on the other three platforms).

These trends continued during the second half of August (Aug. 22- Sept. 5), with Capital One retaining its “Rank of Ranks” leadership position. 

Overall, the banks made some progress in improving performance on T-Mobile/HTC Dream, with an average response time of 9.5 seconds. 

However, this is still way too long, especially for consumers who want more convenient banking options. 

The mobile Web has the potential to serve this need by providing always-on interaction and access to real-time transaction information, but the experience has got to be reliable and fast – regardless of the customer’s mode of access.  

What trends are you seeing with regards to the mobile Web in retail? 
For the month of August (Aug. 8 – Sept. 5), the same group of retail industry leaders (QVC,, Walmart and Newegg) are dominating performance across all four mobile platforms, with QVC earning the top ranking on each of the four mobile platforms, as well as the top spot in Gomez’s Web and Mobile Performance “Rank of Ranks.” 

QVC is clearly setting an industry standard for delivering high-quality Web experiences across online users’ platforms of choice, and as a result, they are protecting and enhancing customer satisfaction, revenue and brand.

Regarding the mobile Web specifically, QVC’s strategy has been to offer a very basic mobile Web site consisting primarily of text links, with few strong or heavy graphics. 

This strategy aligns to recent survey findings showing that if given a choice, online retail site visitors tend to prefer Web site speed over functionality. 

This paradigm is changing for industries like financial services, where users now view speed and functionality as equally important. 

If the same trend occurs in retail, retailers will have to take extra care to balance and meet these often conflicting user demands.

Across the mobile platforms, the top 15 retailers included in the benchmark delivered the strongest performance on the AT&T/iPhone, with an average response time of 4.5 seconds. 

The T-Mobile/HTC Dream platform proved to be the most problematic, with mobile Web downloads taking an average of 11.36 seconds. 

While the retailers delivered a much stronger average response time of just over six seconds on the Sprint/HTC Hero, performance consistency on this platform was more than ten seconds. 

This means that customers may have wildly different experiences when accessing retailers’ mobile Web sites on the Sprint/HTC platform, which risks alienating key customer segments. 

Recommendations from Gomez
According to a recent survey conducted by Equation Research on behalf of Gomez, 58 percent of mobile phone users expect Web sites to load as quickly on their mobile phones as on their PC. 

Organizations should focus on improving performance on the key platforms their customers use in order to protect and enhance customer satisfaction and brand.

Utilize benchmarking as a foundation for mobile Web performance optimization.

Benchmarking is valuable tool in today’s competitive online marketplace because companies cannot efficiently improve Web or mobile application performance without first having an understanding of previous performance levels or performance in comparison to key competitors and industry leaders.

Leverage Gomez’s “Rank of Ranks.” Today’s Web sites are more complex, featuring richer applications and reaching a wider audience in newer ways with mobile devices.

This complexity is driving the need for deeper, more insightful metrics so companies can better understand the Web experiences they are delivering to customers. 

Gomez has created a new industry benchmark standard to address the need for expanded performance metrics and compiled all metrics into a summary view with the “Rank of Ranks” so companies can quickly see how their performance stacks up against their competition.

Final take
Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York