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Lagging Website Performance Will Cost You Money, Period

February 18, 2013 By Neil Garnichaud
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It's time again for the monthly edition of the Retailer Web Performance Report Card, SmartBear Software's ROI Report column that highlights website performance for the top 50 retailers. With the help of SmartBear's AlertSite, I looked specifically at response times and availability for big-box retailers Wal-Mart and Home Depot, as well as wholesale warehouse giant Costco. Despite relying heavily on brick-and-mortar locations, these retailers need to keep online shoppers a priority. The stress of managing busy holiday web traffic is over and the industry is in transition before spring, but website monitoring and attention to online visitors shouldn't take a break.

First, the benchmark average for website availability among the top 50 retailers so far this month is 99.76 percent, holding steady from the same period last month. Admirably, 17 retailers tied for the No. 1 spot with 100 percent site availability, but unfortunately none of our highlighted retailers are among them. The benchmark average for response time is 4.5401 seconds, up just a tenth of a second from this time a month ago. However, with the average online visitor not waiting more than three seconds for a page to load, there's some work to be done.

Atlanta-based Home Depot is struggling with a response time above the average benchmark, at 5.1983 seconds, ranking No. 37, down from No. 35. Wal-Mart and Costco are below the benchmark for response time, but above that three-second threshold. Home Depot's availability was 99.81 percent, ranking No. 36, down from 100 percent availability last month.

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Wal-Mart slipped in availability as well, ranking No. 30 at 99.89 percent, down from 100 percent availability last month. It ranked No. 9 for response time at 3.1771 seconds, up from No. 16 the previous month. Costco ranked No. 48 in availability at 98.75 percent, down from a top spot at 100 percent availability last month. Response time for Costco was 3.4007, No. 14, down from No. 13.

In January, Home Depot forecast a bright future as the housing market slowly makes a recovery, but CEO Frank Blake said the retailer's most significant challenge ahead is the threat of losing sales to internet companies. It's no secret that online sales have the ability to significantly hurt or kill brick-and-mortar retailers, but Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Costco can fight back and beat what's trending.


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