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Slow-performing mobile sites sure to lose shoppers: Gomez

Mobile Commerce Daily interviewed Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez, Lexington, MA, regarding the Compuware Gomez Mobile Benchmark Review of March 2010. Here is what he had to say:

What is this month’s data showing at a high level — what common thread (if any) is running throughout the airlines, banks, retail and search companies mobile Web performance?
For the month of March, mobile airlines provided the most consistent experiences across a given performance category.

Response times between the airline leader and the slowest performer differed by only 3 seconds. This may seem like an eternity on the mobile Web, but the differential was 3.6 seconds in mobile retail and more than 5 seconds in mobile banking.

The performance of the leaders in each of the industry categories (airlines, banking and search) is top-notch, but the slower performers clearly have work to do to catch up. Research indicates that mobile users expect snappy experiences.

Failing to meet these expectations is risky business for mobile site owners.

Yahoo has made great strides in increasing its availability in the mobile search industry category, rising to a No. 2 ranking with 99.88 percent availability for the month. This performance was second only to perennial leader Amazon, who posted 99.92 percent availability for the month.

The mobile Web poses unique technical challenges in terms of Web infrastructure, connectivity, and other considerations. These search providers are clearly masters of their domains.

The Alaska Airlines mobile site also gained a few slots in terms of its Response Time. During the month of March, Alaska Airlines beat this performance category average by coming in at just over 4 seconds.

Hurried travelers appreciate mobile sites that don’t keep them waiting while they’re on the go.

How will this effect banks/airlines/search companies’ interactions with customers and end-users?
All three dimensions of experience – availability, responsiveness, and consistency – influence customer experience and behavior. Mobile end-users are generally accepting of mobile web limitations due to screen size and limited functionality as compared to full versions of traditional websites. At the same time, they expect applications to perform well.

Availability issues are the most frustrating.

A mobile user may not have the option to visit a PC to try to complete their intended action, whether it be shopping for a new gadget or transferring money between accounts.

If the mobile Web site is gone, a shopper may be gone, too.

A banking customer may have to call the bank’s call center.

Each of these situations is lose-lose in that the end-user is frustrated and the profitability of each firm is negatively impacted.

Recommendations from Gomez (based on the data)?
Mobile site owners can’t be complacent about the experiences they’re providing to end-users.

The mobile Web is an emerging and important complement to traditional online experiences.

The leading availability and response time performers across the industries are setting user expectations, so site owners should understand their current ranking, identify potential improvements, and aim for a continual climb up the charts.

Accepting poor performance means accepting risk and higher costs.

In today’s economy, having a poorly performing mobile Web site is simply unacceptable.