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QVC ranked No. 1 retail mobile site for performance in September: Gomez

QVC and Newegg topped the list of the top five retail mobile Web achievers in September because their sites performed well across multiple dimensions and aspects of traditional Web site performance.

These companies exhibited average download speeds of 2.4 and 2.8 seconds respectively across the four mobile platforms tested – AT&T/iPhone, Verizon/Droid, T-Mobile/HTC Dream and Sprint/HTC Hero. Their performance was particularly impressive on the Sprint/HTC Hero, with download speeds of 1.67 seconds and 1.78 seconds respectively.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Giselle Tsirulnik interviewed Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez, Yarmouth, MA. Here is what he said.

What trends are you seeing with regards to the mobile Web in retail? 
QVC and Newegg – ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on Gomez’s September U.S. Retail Mobile Site Performance Index, which provides a single, overall rank conveying how mobile Web sites are performing across multiple dimensions and mobile platforms, are frontrunners.  

These companies exhibited average download speeds of 2.4 and 2.8 seconds respectively across the four mobile platforms tested – AT&T/iPhone, Verizon/Droid, T-Mobile/HTC Dream and Sprint/HTC Hero. 

Their performance was particularly impressive on the Sprint/HTC Hero, with download speeds of 1.67 seconds and 1.78 seconds respectively. 

Also, QVC and Newegg are delivering excellent consistency averages of less than two seconds on three of the four platforms, meaning the mobile Web experiences they are providing are uniformly strong for users.

Of the top five retail mobile Web performers this month, only QVC and Dell (No. 5 in the Mobile Site Performance Index) were also in the top five on Gomez’s U.S. Retail Web site Performance Index.

While Newegg, Amazon and Williams Sonoma – No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 for mobile Web – were not ranked in the top five in the Web site Performance Index, it does not mean that their mobile Web performance is eclipsing their “traditional” Web site performance. 

For example, homepage download speed for Newegg (ranked No. 7 in the Web site Performance Index) was less than one second, compared to an average mobile Web site download speed of 2.8 seconds.

Likewise, homepage download speed for Williams Sonoma (ranked No. 10 in the Web site Performance Index) was 1.56 seconds, compared to an average mobile Web site download speed of 6.37 seconds.

There’s a larger performance delta within the top five mobile Web performers (ranging from approximately two seconds to approximately six seconds) than within the top five Web site performers, whose differences are often hundredths of a second.  

This shows that there’s somewhat of a “grading curve” in mobile Web performance, and that overall, Web site performance continues to be significantly stronger. 

What trends are you seeing with regards to the mobile Web in banking?
Throughout the month of September, KeyBank, Capital One and Huntington Bank remained among the top five mobile Web performers in Gomez’s U.S. Banking Mobile Site Performance Index, setting the standard for banks looking to leverage this growing channel. 

However, the remaining two top five ranking spots shifted throughout the month to include Branch Bank & Trust (No. 4) and PNC Bank (No. 5) for the Sept. 5–19 time period; and J. P. Morgan Chase (No. 3), Northeast Bank (No. 5) and U.S. Bank (No. 5) for the Sept. 19 – Oct. 3 time period. 

This shows that while there’s definitely consistency among the mobile web performance leaders, their ranks aren’t impenetrable and there’s always room to break through.

As an example, in the Sept. 19 – Oct. 3 time period, J. P. Morgan Chase – which wasn’t ranked among the top five in the previous measurement period – shot up to secure the No. 3 ranking, with the best average mobile Web site download speed (3.53 seconds) among all the banks.  J. P. Morgan Chase should be applauded for these improvements, because while the mobile Web is highly competitive across industries, it’s particularly competitive in banking.

The very nature of banking means that customers expect to be able to access their information at the snap of a finger, on a 24/7 basis. 

Any lapses in mobile Web availability or speed can leave a particularly bad impression.

In addition, a recent survey found banking to be one of just a few industries where users aren’t willing to compromise functionality for the sake of speed – they clearly want both. 

Banks can’t necessarily rely on the technique of “lightening” mobile Web pages and paring down to just core functionality as a means of maintaining speed.  Instead, banks must be extra diligent about optimizing mobile Web performance for their must important customer segments, and proactively addressing any and all performance bottlenecks – both inside and outside their own firewall – before customers are impacted.

All of the banks on the benchmark should be recognized for their speed improvements on the Verizon/Droid platform which, as of Oct. 3, became the fastest platform with an average download speed of 4.13 seconds. 

According to Gartner, by 2012, Android will become the world’s most popular smartphone platform (behind only Nokia’s Symbian OS, which is very popular outside of the U.S.), and according to Google’s Eric Schmidt, 200,000 smartphones are activated to the Android platform each day. 

The banks are smart to focus on this rapidly growing customer segment.

Tell us about Gomez’s new mobile apps benchmark for retail. 
Today’s mobile Web shoppers are using their devices to not just purchase goods, but to augment the in-store shopping experience – reading reviews, comparing products and prices and determining if a particular store has a product in stock, for example. 

Mobile apps offer retailers another valuable opportunity to connect with customers, right at the point of sale, particularly by pushing coupons and sales. 

For retailers, the advent of the mobile web and mobile apps means that your physical store is no longer a “safe haven” from your competitors. 

Mobile apps that are slow or unreliable might mean the loss of fleeting sales opportunities, or worse, they may open a window of opportunity for your competitors whose apps are reaching customers faster. 

We have created our new mobile apps benchmark for retail with this in mind. Target, Amazon and Walmart are the current performance leaders. 

It is paramount that retailers measure and optimize mobile apps as part of their overall mobile Web strategy. 

The holidays can be a stressful time, and strong mobile app performance can help retailers tremendously in building brand loyalty and a sense of goodwill among customers, while helping enhance their own revenue opportunities throughout the holidays and beyond.

Recommendations from Gomez
Don’t underestimate the power of the mobile Web, especially for retailers this holiday season. 

To customers, there is only one Web and they expect strong performance regardless of how they access it. 

Techniques that have been used to enhance traditional Web site performance can easily be ported to the mobile Web.

At a bare minimum, make sure your site renders correctly for key customer segments. 

New tools can quickly show you how your mobile Web site is rendering across major mobile platforms.

You really need to understand your audience. 

Especially for bankers, don’t assume that lightening mobile Web pages is the key to maintaining speed and keeping customers happy. 

Customer expectations for speed versus functionality vary from industry to industry and you really need to know and deliver on what your customers expect.