The best way to keep your E-commerce site attracting customers, converting visits to sales, and growing your business is to make sure the site runs as smoothly as possible. But ‘smoothly’ is a big word and overcoming E-commerce testing challenges through a structured E-commerce Testing and Automation approach is the primary element that will separate you from the rest, especially when you are constantly updating your site.
Challenges in E-commerce That Require a Focus on Software Quality
For a long time, E-commerce was a nice add-on for physical brick and mortar store owners. Those days are long gone. Today, E-commerce is the growth engine supplementing slower growth sales from brick and mortar stores. To keep your E-commerce customers happy and spending, it´s critical that not only all aspects of your internet retail presence function properly, but also that the user experience is positive. The problem is that functioning properly for E-commerce has some particular challenges:
- Frequent updates and changes in design as designers are constantly trying new user flows
- Daily or hourly updates and changes in products and corresponding menus
- Numerous interfaces to 3rd party modules for payment and for other advanced functions
- Graphics for every product that need to show the user what they’re getting without bogging down the site
- Security issues not only with payment but with user accounts
This is where E-commerce testing comes in.
E-commerce Testing Elements
But what exactly is E-commerce or retail software testing and how is it different from other types of software testing? E-commerce testing is so different and challenging from a testing perspective, because the very nature of online shopping is such that any “inconveniences” experienced by the customer can lead to a quick exit from the website, and into the welcoming arms of a competitor. E-commerce testing must be holistic in view and cover multiple areas such as functional, usability, security, performance, database, mobile application and A/B testing. But there´s more, E-commerce retail sites are highly dynamic in nature as new products are added continuously. Designs change and new features are added continuously for a better user experience. When you have a complex system of web components and interfaces mixed with frequent and, at times, fast changing elements, then the chance of “defects” slipping through and negatively impacting the online shoppers user experience rises exponentially. If online sales are an important component of your business, E-commerce testing needs to be a critical part of your operations!
When looking at a typical E-commerce retail site, we can distinguish a number of elements that should form part of your test plan. These elements need to work ‘smoothly’ in order to realize a higher conversion rate, the number of site visitors that turn into paying customers – this is what you´re most interested in as a retailer.
A good rule of thumb is to follow the user on their customer journey through your retail site and critically review the elements used during his or her visit. This means you need to carefully test the most commonly utilized areas, features, and functions such as your site´s home page, search and sort functionality, product detail page, shopping cart, payment functionality, different product categories, featured products and related or recommended products. These should be combined with after-order tests and the typical software test types mentioned earlier.
Overcoming E-commerce Testing Challenges through Structured QA
Naturally, E-commerce testing comes with a number of challenges. Keep in mind that you not only need to know the ins and outs of software testing, but also need a profound knowledge of the E-commerce domain itself, where the software has the most dynamic nature of almost any vertical. With so many different things to test, it´s easy to get lost and lose track of your testing efforts.
From our experience at XBOSoft, we believe the best approach to managing a complex testing environment is through a formal, or structured QA process. The formality brings structure to the chaos of design changes and updates that differentiate the eCommerce vertical. With a repeatable and scaleable test process (yes, you can still be repeatable and scaleable within agile) that allows for the collection of metrics to manage product quality, you can organize your chaos and not only maintain, but improve quality. Structured QA testing includes developing test plans, test cases, documenting test results and using test tools. We’re not talking about pages and pages of documentation. Rather, using an agile methodology still needs documentation in order to provide some knowledge going forward. This is critical in a rapidly changing environment. Important points involve the preparation of an effective Test Strategy and Plan, the need for using consistent test design techniques for writing good test cases, utilizing the right tools for test design and test management, automating where it makes sense, and establishing a manageable flow in Test Execution and Test Reporting.
Using Test Automation in the Right Places for E-commerce
Automation is a separate, but critical component of the structured QA process necessary for testing E-commerce sites. Every time coding changes are instituted on a web store, a series of regression tests must be carried out to ensure nothing was “broken” while the changes were made. The bane of every Tester is becoming overwhelmed with manual regression testing. You want to spend your manual testing hours doing exploratory testing and testing new designs and features. When done properly, automated testing should relieve you of the mundane stuff, and execute up to 20x faster compared to manual testing. The trick is to automate in the right places and then take this time savings to expand test coverage, platforms, and exploratory testing. At XBOSoft, because we’ve been testing E-commerce sites for a long time, we know where the automation sweet spots are, in order to get you up and running quickly. In fact, we have specific automation efforts geared toward those implementing one of the most common E-commerce platforms, DemandWare.
Test automation provides the insurance you need to feel at ease that older functions and features work properly while you focus your efforts on newer features, designs and functions. There are many automation tool options available in the market. At XBOSoft, we use most of the common commercial automation tools such as TestComplete, QTest, and Visual Studio. However, we are a proponent of “open source” tools, and have developed extensive experience in Selenium, JMeter, and Appium. As with any open source tool, you don’t pay for the tool itself, but the labor quotient in implementing the tool is a little higher. Because we are experts at using these tools, we can quickly get them up and running and productive using our established and proven frameworks.
If you need assistance conquering and addressing your E-commerce testing challenges, our dedicated team of experts at XBOSoft are here to help! To get started, please contact us today. Thanks!