OPERATIONS

Study: Top retail websites getting slower

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Retail websites are getting slower … fast, according to a report by Radware, a provider of application delivery and application security solutions for virtual and cloud data centers. In just one year, median time to interact (TTI) has slowed down by 27% (from 4.9 seconds to 6.2 seconds), and median load time has suffered a 49% increase (from 7.2 seconds to 10.7 seconds).

The quarterly study titled “State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance, Summer 2014,” finds that of the top 100 retail websites, the median page has grown 67% in just one year and many are failing to leverage advanced techniques to help accelerate their pages.

According to the survey, use of images is one of the single performance drains, as most site owners are not taking advantage of image optimization techniques that can dramatically improve both real and perceived load times.

Radware also found that performance degradation continues to escalate as retail web pages grow larger and more complex. The median top 100 ecommerce home page takes six seconds or longer to render its primary content to online visitors – a 27% slowdown over the past year. This render time is more than twice as slow as the ideal user experience of three seconds or less.

Only 14% of the top 100 retail sites were able to deliver an optimal user experience. 17% took ten or more seconds just to be become interactive.

“We’re so accustomed to expecting to see high-quality images everywhere on the web that we take them for granted and don’t think about their heavy performance impact,” says Kent Alstad, VP of acceleration for Radware. “Page size has a direct impact on page speed, and images comprise at least half a typical page’s weight. As such, they represent an extremely fertile ground for optimization. Yet we found that many leading retailers are not taking advantage of techniques such as image compression and progressive image rendering, which can enhance both load times and user experience.”

To access the full report, which includes 15 best practices that site owners can implement to accelerate their pages, visit Radware.com/summer-sotu2014.

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OPERATIONS

Sainsbury’s store runs on electricity generated from food waste

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Sainsbury’s has entered into a unique arrangement that closes the loop on food recycling. Its store in Cannock, Staffordshire, England, has come off the country’s national power grid for day-to-day electricity consumption and is running on power generated solely from food waste from Sainsbury’s supermarkets across the United Kingdom.

The new power supply was built in partnership with waste recycling company Biffa, and uses Biffa’s advanced anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities and a unique power link up.

Here’s how it works: The waste is collected from Sainsbury’s supermarkets using Sainsbury’s delivery trucks and delivered to Biffa’s plant in Cannock. It is then turned into bio-methane gas, which is then used to generate electricity at the Biffa plant. Electricity is directly supplied to the Cannock supermarket via a newly constructed electricity cable.

Sainsbury’s send zero operational waste to landfill. Any food waste that is unsuitable for charitable donations or animal feed is sent to anaerobic digestion at Biffa to be converted to energy.

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Macy’s new green initiatives include greater use of LEDs

BY Marianne Wilson

Cincinnati — Macy’s reported a series of new initiatives in its multi-year strategic program to enhance environmental sustainability, including a plan to begin replacing fluorescent fixtures in its store with LEDs.

The new initiatives are consistent with the company’s sustainability principles first adopted in 2008 and implemented with increasing intensity over the past six years. Results through 2013 include a 38% reduction in the company’s electricity usage (since 2002), and a 95% adoption rate of recycled or certified paper used in the company’s marketing materials.

New and enhanced elements of sustainability at Macy’s include:

Lighting: The company has already installed more than 1.1 million LED bulbs in more than 800 Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores across America, cutting energy consumption used in lighting by up to 73% compared with conventional bulbs replaced. In 2014, LED technology is being extended fluorescent fixtures.

Solar power: Plans call for the developing of 20 additional solar power arrays to be installed on the roofs of stores and distribution centers in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and other states in 2014 and 2015. At year-end 2013, solar energy was being generated on 55 active installations at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s facilities.

Waste reduction: Plans include reducing waste in the merchandise supply chain by standardizing the size of packing cartons, incorporating recycled polyester fibers in many woven garment labels, minimizing packaging materials and adopting paper hangtags made from FSC-certified paper. Work on packaging reduction is being researched and piloted in Macy’s Private Brands, with plans to collaborate with market merchandise vendors in the months ahead.

Electric vehicle charging stations: Macy’s is collaborating with Volta Industries to install 17 new free-to-operate electric vehicle (EV) charging stations outside eight Macy’s stores in the Los Angeles area by late fall 2014. This installation will bring to 33 the number of EV charging stations available to customers at Macy’s store locations in southern California.

Paperless billing: The company is setting new and higher goals to increase customer adoption of electronic (paperless) billing statements and electronic bill payment. In 2013 alone, nearly 18% of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s customers opted for paperless statements, saving about 745,000 pounds of paper.

Digital receipts: When making a purchase, customers can choose to have a copy of their receipt emailed to them, thus eliminating the unnecessary use of paper receipts. Digital receipts are a convenience for many customers and support the company’s sustainability objective of reducing the use of paper in its business operations. In 2013, about 6% of all store transactions were paperless.

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