Website performance for online retailers improves in Q2

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times: The Web is continuously growing in importance for retailers. At Grainger, for example, number 15 on the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, web sales grew 31.3 percent in 2010 to $1.89 billion and accounted for 25 percent of the company’s total sales. And company executives only anticipate that percentage to grow more. Vice President of E-Commerce, Paul Miller, told Internet Retailer that at some point, the Web will account for 40 percent of sales.

And as shoppers forgo the brick-and-mortar shopping experience for the Web, retailers are doing a better job of delivering a high-quality user experience. In Q2 2011, the average availability for the Internet Retailer Top 50 crept up slightly from 99.43 percent in Q1 to 99.67 percent, whereas their average response times improved from 3.37 seconds to 3.31 seconds.

In the website speed category, last quarter’s number one and two retailers, Avon and Peapod, moved down to the numbers two and three positions, respectively, despite response time improvements for both. This quarter, Systemax came out on top with a near-instantaneous 0.64 second average load time.

We also saw a shake-up of the top three rankings in terms of reliability. Sears Holding, which last quarter fell just below the industry average with 99.40 percent availability, soared to the top of the chart in Q2 with availability at 99.97 percent. Dell’s website performance also improved, as it tied with Sears for the number one spot. Overstock.com held onto its number three spot with 99.96 percent availability.

One more interesting observation: Though the averages weren’t too far off, luxury retailers edged out the Internet Retailer Top 50 this quarter both in average response times and availability. There was a 0.7 second differential in response times and a 0.07 percent differential in reliability.

To compile the Web Performance Index for Retail, SmartBear Software uses AlertSite to monitor the home pages of these sites from 12 U.S. locations, every five minutes between 6 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. EST. Measurements were taken between April 1 and June 30, 2011.