The Retailer Web Performance Report Card: L.L.Bean, Toys”R”Us and Avon

The Retailer Web Performance Report Card is a monthly ROI Report column by SmartBear Software that provides a performance check on the websites of some of the top 50 online retailers. It primarily benchmarks observations of response times and site availability, along with some insights. Through SmartBear’s AlertSite, we can see how online retailers’ websites perform, and whatever we see, so sees the end user. Our first column comes at the most critical time of year for retailers as we approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday. (For a free web performance analysis from SmartBear, click here.) We’re putting L.L.Bean, Toys”R”Us and Avon in the spotlight for the good, the bad and the ugly.

On Thursday, Nov. 8, we observed an unavailability of the L.L.Bean website from 12:05 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. We tested from various locations — L.A., Seattle, Chicago, Detroit and beyond — and found consumers across the country getting the same time-out error for 155 minutes. Ouch. As a result, L.L.Bean scored last in website availability (96.63 percent) last week among the top 50 retailers. The good news is that when the site was available, it scored slightly higher than the average response time among the top 50 retailers, with a load time of 4.29 seconds. Not bad.

Toys”R”Us, however, was the laggard in response time at 15.57 seconds. The site displays lots of products, lots of ads and lots of layers that take additional time to load. Contrast that with Avon, which was at the top of our list for response among the top 50 last week at 1.27 seconds. The beauty company makes entry into its online shopping experience really simple for visitors. The site is a “postcard” of sorts — what we’d call “starter pages” that are very light on content with a basic menu to navigate — with three main tabs: sell Avon, shop online and find a representative. No ads, no pop-ups, no extras of any kind. The retailer was also at the top of the list for site availability at a perfect 100 percent. Stating the obvious, but when you keep it simple, there’s less to go wrong.

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