Best Buy’s Dead-Last Mobile Performance: Does It Mean Anything?

Written by Evan Schuman
October 21st, 2010

Add this to the list of your mobile commerce conundrums. In new analyst rankings, Best Buy tested dead last in all categories, among the major retailers tested. But those results may not matter the slightest in terms of Best Buy’s M-Commerce revenue, profits or customer satisfaction.

Why? Because almost no one—including major retailers—is tracking mobile cart abandonment rates. To be explicit, mobile cart abandonment is not exactly the same as its Web counterpart.

In E-Commerce, an abandoned cart generally means someone has spent time on a site, filled up a shopping cart and then stopped the process just before paying. An abandonment in the mobile world, by contrast, is customers who visit a site and then abruptly leave before doing anything significant. At this early stage of M-Commerce, customers who click through to various pages and go so far as to put items in their carts are actually considered successes. After all, many will later consummate those sales on mobile, the Web or in-store.

So mobile cart abandonment raises the distinct possibility that slow, or otherwise flawed, mobile site performance drove customers away. But is that necessarily true? Given the various target audiences for different categories of retailers, is it not realistic to assume that site management has already matched functionality and visuals to target customers?

That’s the type of problem behind recent mobile performance rankings being publicized by competing Web performance firms, including Gomez (a division of Compuware) and Keynote.

Take Best Buy, as an example. In the Gomez iPhone application tests covering September 2010, the retailer’s performance was dead last in the three categories Gomez tracked: Response Time, Availability and Consistency.

In Response Time, Best Buy’s dedicated app delivered a response time of more than eight seconds, compared with the average time of 4.1 seconds and the top-ranked 0.86 seconds from Target. In Availability, Best Buy delivered 97.6 percent uptime, compared with an average of 99.8 percent and a top ranking of 100 percent from six retailers: Macy’s, Newegg, QVC, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart.

In Consistency, a low number indicates a well-controlled mobile experience. Best Buy delivered a 10.6 second rating, almost twice as bad as the next weakest performer, which was HSN at 5.7 seconds. The average was 3.5 seconds, and the top score—belonging to Amazon—was 0.7 seconds.

Best Buy fared almost as poorly in the Keynote numbers, appearing second-to-last in overall mobile site availability with a 96.5 percent, beaten for the bottom by the 93.3 percent delivered by In Keynote’s mobile availability tests, six retailers achieved 100 percent availability: Wal-Mart, Amazon, eBay, Barcle, and Zeer. (Keynote’s list included retailers that are not among the largest.)

The real question, though, is “so what?” Without knowing if those speeds are pushing away customers, the numbers are not especially meaningful.


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