Compuware Offers Ideas For Online Retailers To Save The Shopping Season

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Compuware headquarters in downtown Detroit

Compuware headquarters in downtown Detroit

DETROIT — Compuware Corp. (Nasdaq:CPWR) Monday issued five recommendations for struggling online retailers to improve Web and mobile site performance for the remainder of the 2011 holiday season.

Compuware’s recommendations are included in its newly published report that analyzes online shoppers’ estimated satisfaction with top U.S. retailers’ Web and mobile site performance from Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

Compuware’s in-depth assessment uses a combination of its Gomez Performance Satisfaction Index data,which measured performance using Gomez Last Mile, and dynaTrace’s PurePath Technology to analyze transactions, to determine why some retailers performed well and others did not.

An overwhelming majority of e-commerce sites saw their users’ estimated satisfaction with Web and mobile performance drop during Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Compuware’s analysis found that, despite months of preparation by retailers, 86 percent of the top 50 U.S retailers experienced declines in shoppers’ estimated satisfaction with website performance compared to non-holiday baseline levels.

Additionally, many retailers had web page load times of 10 seconds or more — well beyond the two seconds expected by users. Every additional second of delay can mean millions of dollars in potential revenue lost.

Poor performing sites had similar problem patterns in common, including being overloaded with third-party content or heavy on JavaScript and not leveraging browser caching. Based on Compuware’s analysis of both the strong and poor performers, the company issued the following recommendations that struggling retailers should implement immediately:

1. Check your third-party content: Third-party content, (e.g. ads, social media plug-ins, images) is necessary, but check on what the impact is and whether there is an alternate solution to embedding it.
2. Check the content you deliver and control: Check the content size and number of resources by content type. Reduce the size of images where possible. Combine, minify and compress text files such as HTML, JavaScript and CSS files to reduce roundtrips and download time.
3. Check your JavaScript executions: JavaScript is a big source of performance problems. Use updated code libraries and coding practices. Analyze the impact of JavaScript performance across the major browsers — not just the browsers you use in development.
4. Check your redirect settings: Many sites still use a series of URL redirects even before the first HTML page is displayed to the user. Proper redirect configuration can save unnecessary roundtrips, eliminate the display of blank browser windows and speed up page load time.
5. Check your server-side performance: Dynamic pages, e.g. containing location-based deals, your shopping cart or a product search result page, require server-side processing. When servers get overloaded with too many requests and when the application doesn’t scale properly, performance problems cause slow page load and update times.

“A few top performers certainly made the most of this year’s increased online and mobile holiday traffic by providing shoppers with good online experiences throughout the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period. Unfortunately, a large percentage of retailers failed to maximize their online sales potential,” said John Van Siclen, general manager of Compuware’s Application Performance Management Business Unit. “However, there’s still time for these retailers to implement the best practices outlined in our report to improve their site performance for the remainder of the 2011 holiday season.”

A bright note in Compuware’s report revealed that, while many retailers’ Web sites failed to meet the performance expectations of shoppers, they were better prepared for the increase of shoppers using smartphones and other devices this holiday season. A majority (60 percent) of the retailers experienced double digit percentage improvements in shoppers’ estimated satisfaction with mobile site performance compared to non-holiday baseline levels.

Compuware will continue to analyze shoppers estimated satisfaction with top U.S. Retailers web and mobile site performance throughout the remainder of the holiday season and will publish the complete results in January 2012.

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