Target edges past Amazon for app speed, but The Great Courses tops the list.

Shoppers looking for for back-to-school products in Target Corp. and Inc.’s apps browse faster than shoppers using mass merchant Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s app, according to the PacketZoom Performance Index.

Mobile app performance vendor PacketZoom and Internet Retailer produce a quarterly index ranking online retailers that sell products in various categories by their iOS app load speed. PacketZoom measures app speed as the time it takes for the elements needed for a consumer to start searching in the app to load. The vendor calls this time to browse. PacketZoom monitors these apps across thousands of mobile devices while connected to Wi-Fi networks. 64% of consumers launch retail apps while connected to Wi-Fi, according to PacketZoom, which is why it monitors app performance in this way.

For the back-to-school shopping season, PazketZoom monitored school-supply apps Staples Inc., No. 5 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000; Target (No. 20); Amazon (No. 1); Office Depot Inc. (No. 13); Walmart (No. 3); book shopping apps Barnes and Noble Booksellers Inc. (No. 69); and Indigo Books and Music Inc. (No. 299); online learning/education content apps Khan Academy, The Great Courses (owned by The Teaching Company LLC) and Brainscape. PacketZoom monitored these iOS apps July 25-Aug. 4.


Overall, The Great Courses had the fastest app, loading in 1.9 seconds. The main reason for its quick load time is that its education videos are not featured on its home landing screen, and thus don’t slow the initial app load time, says Chetan Ahuja, PacketZoom’s founder and chief technology officer.

Conversely, the app for The Kahn Academy, which also is an online learning retailer, is the slowest app on the index because it does feature large file sizes on the landing screen, Ahuja says. The Great Courses app is 97 kilobytes to load compared with The Khan Academy, which is 1,833 kilobytes.

But a large file size doesn’t necessarily mean an app will load slowly, Ajuha says. For example, the Staples app is 1.5% larger than Office Depot’s app, yet loads 25% faster, according to PacketZoom data.

“This is probably due to the number of files loaded in the opening page,” Ahuja says. “While Staples loads a single file of 134 kilobytes in size, Office Depot loads three files with a combined size of 136 kilobytes.”



Compared with the previous quarter’s mobile app performance index of Mother’s Day gift and flower retailers, these back-to-school apps load faster, on average, in 3.06 seconds compared with the 10 gift and flower retailer apps that loaded, on average, in 5.09 seconds from April 24-May 4, according to PacketZoom data.