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Slim and trim to slow and bloated – the top 100 ecommerce websites

ecommerceCan you imagine, that among the top 100 ecommerce websites in the world, there’s one site that is over 2.5 MB in total size, and another that takes almost 7 seconds to load?

It’s not all bad news though in our brand new study of the performance of the leading ecommerce sites. We ran the top 100 sites through a set of grueling tests to find out which sites are really fast, which are really big, which ones load a lot of files, and much more.

Some sites are slim and trim, others are slow and bloated. Read on to found out which is which.

The biggest site weighs in at almost 2.6 MB

We used Pingdom’s free Full Page Test to analyze each site’s performance by taking the average result from three tests performed in early June. You can read more about the tests at the end of this article. To make it easier for you to see the main results of this study, each chart below shows only the top 10 and bottom 10 sites in each category. For each one, there’s a link below the chart to the full view with all the 100 sites.

When studying how big the sites are in terms of total size of all the files that need to be downloaded, the spread is quite amazing. As you can see below, the smallest site, iHerb.com, is about 5% of the total size of the biggest one, ticketmaster.com. And at 2.5 MB total size, ticketmaster.com is not that much bigger than the next three sites.

Ecommerce: total size

You can download a high-resolution version of this chart with the complete top 100 here.

On the other end of the chart, the second smallest site is adpost.com. Then follows wiley.com and cduniverse.com. What becomes quite clear if you look at the smallest sites in terms of the total size of files loaded is that they are rather sparse when it comes to graphics.

In the case of iherb.com, it’s also the site that loads in the fewest number of files, as you will see later, but let’s not get ahead of our selves.

What is interesting to note is that the average size of the top 100 sites is just under 1 MB, which is below the average of the web, which is currently around 1.1 MB.

Average load time is 2.3 seconds

When we look at the speed of the top 100 sites we see a similar spread to what we encountered with regards to the size. The average site loads in 2,316 milliseconds, with the fastest one (cambridge.org) at 539 ms.

Ecommerce: load time

You can download a high-resolution version of this chart with the complete top 100 here.

Here we find a site that really sticks out, and not in a good way. Futurebazaar.com takes up last position in the speed ranking, loading in almost 7 seconds. That’s about 1.6 seconds slower than the number two site, which is trademe.co.nz. However, futurebazaar.com is pretty average when it comes to size, only 1.2 MB, and it makes 101 requests, which is also fairly good in comparison.

Sites on average load 110 files

Finally, we looked at how many objects or files were loaded for each site. Generally speaking, the lower the number of requests made for different files, the faster a site can run. And that seems to be the case with iherb.com, which only loads 25 files.

Ecommerce: requests

You can download a high-resolution version of this chart with the complete top 100 here.

Compare iherb.com’s 25 files with barnesandnoble.com, the site which loads in the most files (249) out of the top 100 sites. You can of course also compare the total file size of the sites, with iherb.com’s 124 kB against barnesandnobles.com’s almost 1.8 MB.

Still room to optimize for performance

No doubt, web performance is a complex issue, and this study looks at just three variables, each which is relatively easy to isolate and measure. But if we can learn one thing from this study, it is that even if you run one of the top ecommerce sites in the world, there’s still a lot of room for improving the performance of the site.

We certainly plan to come back to this issue in the future to see how these sites, and others, develop in terms of performance.

If you’re interested in this topic, you may also want to check out our series of interviews about web performance.

About the data: The top 100 ecommerce web sites come from Alexa, and all the performance data was collected with Pingdom’s Free Full Page Test. We ran the test three times between June 11 and 14, 2012, all from our datacenter in Sweden, and we used the average of the three tests in this report. In some cases, where the main page of a site is really only a landing page where the user can click on to the real site, like ikea.com, we tested the full site, for example ikea.com/us/en. Where possible, we chose the US location of the site.

Image credit: Top image via Shutterstock.

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