The state of e-commerce websites – Part 1: Overview

A big disclaimer up front – I am currently working for Williams-Sonoma which includes the Pottery Barn family of websites and West Elm. It is part of my role to look at front end performance with particular reference to the javascript.

I was surprised to find how many e-commerce sites are based around the Bay Area. From in Brisbane to Macys and Bloomingdales downtown.

Performance is an important aspect for e-commerce sites and so I thought it might be interesting to look at a group of them and compare speed, page weight, third party scripts and potential performance improvements.

In looking at the websites I want to look at 1) The home page, 2) a category / sub-category page and 3) A product page.

My first task was to get a list of the sites I want to look at. As I am working for a company taht has retail stores and also an online presence I thought it would be interesting to look at sites with a similar background.  The ones I chose are Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Sephora,, Crate and Barrel, CB2, Gap and Barnes and Noble. I have also added as a pure internet business to see if that makes a difference.

I am going to use a variety of methods to examine the sites – Initially I’ll use to get some initial stats and I will also get the grades Google’s Page Speed and Yahoo!s YSlow Firefox plugins

For this post I have just gathered some basic information on the home pages of these sites. Home pages are generally the first page a user sees. and first impressions are important. However, in general, they are not necessarily reflective of the rest of a site and so I think should be treated differently.

All tests were carried out with the following params From: Dulles, VA – 1.5Mbps ADSL using IE7

Updated 5/15/2010: Added Best Buy so we have a 10th clicks and mortar store

Author: Martin Logan