App speed is just as important as website speed for many e-retailers that have attracted loyal app users.
Grubwithus Inc., which operates online sneaker marketplace Goat, recently integrated with app performance vendor PacketZoom to speed up its app.
The marketplace launched in July 2015 and has 1.5 million consumers either buying or selling on Goat, co-founder and CEO Eddy Lu says. The marketplace has about 50,000 SKUs available, 90% of which are new, not used, shoes. The startup has about 60 employees, including the staff in its distribution center, and has raised $37.6 million in funding, Lu says.
Goat operates as a “managed marketplace,” meaning it is an intermediary between buyers and sellers, Lu says. For example, a seller will list size 10 Air Jordans Retro Space Jam edition sneakers on the Goat marketplace. Once a consumer buys the shoes, the seller ships the product to Goat, which will verify the condition and authenticity of the shoes. Goat will then ship the shoes to the buyer. The process takes five to 10 days, Lu says. Goat charges a commission that ranges between 12.4% to 24%, plus $5, on each order.
Lu attributes Goat’s speedy user growth to word-of-mouth, especially via social media. Most of Goat users are millennials (consumers born in the 1980s or 1990s), who often are on social media boasting about how much they’ve sold on the marketplace or what they bought, Lu says. This mobile-savvy generation is the reason why 98% of Goat’s sales are from the app, so app speed—especially image speed—is all the more important, he says.
“People buy with their eyes,” Lu says. “We know that being able to see the product and pictures are the main drivers of why people are going to buy something.”
The Goat app wasn’t slow, but getting it to perform faster is always better, Lu says. “It was a low risk to test it out with potentially a high reward,” Lu says, referring to when he heard about PacketZoom in July.
“For a commerce site like us, when we need to make our sell-through and people need to convert. We need to do whatever it takes to provide the fastest experiences,” he adds.
Like a mobile website, an app is subject to mobile internet connectivity issues. The device type, the network, dead zones, the number of requests made to a server, consumers moving in and out of Wi-Fi zones, devices moving between 3G or 4G spots and other issues impact speed.
When a consumer launches an app, the app makes a call to wherever that content is stored, such as a content delivery network server or in the Amazon Web Services cloud, to download it. The app then loads the page’s assets. However, all the various kinds of mobile connectivity issues can interfere with this process and make the app page load slowly or crash.
PacketZoom reroutes some of the app’s traffic so it travels to where the content is stored via its own HTTP route to bypass the typical HTTP route where all other internet traffic travels. This allows the traffic to arrive where the content is stored faster and with fewer service interruptions, such as when a consumer sees an error page when trying to load a page. Most content downloads require multiple roundtrips from the app to the server and back, and PacketZoom’s route requires fewer round-trips, says Shlomi Gian, CEO of PacketZoom.
Typically, a retailer chooses its “heaviest” page elements, such as a video or an advertisement, to be rerouted, Gian says. Lu decided to send every image through PacketZoom, and images load about 30-43% faster since that change, Lu says.
Across all of PacketZoom’s clients, static content, such as images, load two to three times faster on average when routed via PacketZoom. Dynamic content, such as application program interface calls, are 50-100% faster, Gian says.
PacketZoom charges retailers based on how many daily active users the app has and how much content those users consume each day. For example, an app with 6,000-8,000 daily active users would pay about $700 per month, Gian says.
This cost, however, is almost always offset by a reduction in the retailer’s content delivery network bill, Gian says. Because the retailer is not making as many requests to its content delivery network, the bill will go down, he says.
Lu says this is true for Goat. He is spending “thousands of dollars” with PacketZoom each month, but his Amazon Web Services bill is lower by that amount or more. For example, if he pays Packet Zoom $5,000 a month, his Amazon bill will have dropped $5,000 or $5,500, Lu says.
It took about one month for Goat to test and then deploy the speed boost feature, Lu says. Integration was simple and involved the marketplace adding a line of code into its app.Favorite