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Is your ecommerce Website Testing Ticking all the Right Boxes?

Friday April 25, 2014

Due to the growing dependence on ecommerce/online shopping websites and current market trends, today’s ecommerce solutions and applications have taken a huge turn taking technology by storm and have completely changed the  experiences.

Ecommerce websites and applications of today are not only restricted to mere display of items, payment gateways and shopping carts, rather they encompass an extensive set of features including reporting & analytics, catalog management, marketing modules, campaign management, customer profiles management, etc. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONC), in the year 2012, 67% of adults purchased goods and availed services like ticket bookings, hotel reservations via internet.

Challenges that knocks down your ecommerce sales

Despite of this continued growth and facilities of ecommerce, retailers are facing severe challenges, reason being uncontrollable poor performances of websites since they are directly operated by customers and there is no human interface to manage when things go wrong. Any customer can put-off with you if they are dissatisfied with design, usability and speed of response and can straightaway shift to another online supplier. A survey conducted by Forrester Research and Gartner Group showed that ecommerce sites are losing $1.1 to $1.3 billion every year due to slow loading of websites, problematic navigation and search systems, browser incompatibility, etc.

On the other hand, even if a website performance meets the expected standards, retailers find it difficult to solve problems like

  • Inability to serve the right customers with relevant items due to complex search systems and categorizations
  • Difficulty in verifying security parameters across the website
  • Failure to identify the ideal processes and redundant processes to optimize the overall performance of the website

Time to call off challenges with ecommerce website testing

To remain on a competitive edge and deliver the desired results to the online buyers, you need to shift your focus on quality and performance of your ecommerce website while shrinking timelines as much as possible.

Ecommerce website testing is what you need to opt to manage the growing volumes of items to be displayed on the website and at the same time maintain the required scalability, accessibility and ease of use.  Testing an ecommerce website not only helps you check the usability and performance of your online store, but also helps you enhance conversion rates on the go.

How ecommerce website testing helps

Ensures transactions readiness: ecommerce website testing helps you ensure that each and every page of your online store is tested thoroughly and validated to complete the ecommerce transactions successfully and confirms that it is ready for customer usage.

Validates different factorsEcommerce website testing also helps you check your website for the functionality, compatibility, security, performance and usability factors.

Reduces challenges in delivering smooth buying experienceTime is a crucial factor in ecommerce world and testing of the online stores periodically ensures it deliver a smoother user experience without imposing significant time challenges for the businesses as well as for the customers.

Enhances usability: The well-crafted testing process includes measures of risk and value while incorporating testing other quality-related activities that ensure development is properly focused to achieve maximum benefit while reducing the risk. Criteria of a successful online buying is about enhancing usability while reducing risk of failure, and testing of an ecommerce site ensures both of these aspects on the go.

Evaluates compatibility and functionality against load: To serve your customer’s requirements seamlessly, you need to determine whether your online store functions properly at different load conditions and supports different platforms and browsers. Testing is inevitable to ensure your website is compatible and ready to work during peak load.

Reduces risks of changesEcommerce websites or applications change frequently over a certain period of time and regression testing ensures that changes do not result in unintended effects.

What to test in an ecommerce website

To test an ecommerce website and ensure it meets the required level of usability, scalability and deliver smooth buying experience, testers need to set up an integrated plan which covers testing of following elements of an ecommerce website or online store.

Homepage: Home page of an ecommerce website contains a rich source of information and links directed to different pages. Hence, it is important to test the functionality and interoperability of the homepage and verify all the visual elements and details on the page.

Product details Pages: Product detail page is a heart of an ecommerce website, which can make or break your customers. Therefore, it is important to test product detail pages, and how the functionalities work and appear such as - product title and code, product description, product images, enlarge image functions, 360 degree view of the product, related products display, and add to shopping cart functions and so on.

Category Pages: Category pages are another major area of testing. Testers need to test the breadth and range of products by verifying whether the products are organized into similar groups or not and how effectively it helps visitors quickly find the right product category for them. Testers can also use split testing in order to test category page of an ecommerce website.

Shopping CartTesters also need to dedicate special efforts to test shopping cart functionality and test whether the shopping cart items, quantities, delivery options are reflected as per the transactions taking place. It is also necessary to check whether the buying process is the same throughout the store and also test the functionality of changing and removing items from the shopping cart and its effects on final transaction.

Checkout & Payment Gateways: Testing of an ecommerce website would be incomplete if a tester ignores the functionality and operation of checkout and payment gateways. Testers also need to devote enough time to test the checkout and payment process with different payment options such as cash, net- banking, credit card, debit card etc. as well as payment gateways. On the other hand, it is also necessary to test and confirm the process of refund and email sent to the buyers while performing testing of an ecommerce website.

Browser CompatibilityAnother extremely important aspect of testing an ecommerce website is to check the browser compatibility. Testers need to thoroughly test working of an ecommerce website on major browsers and versions to ensure that a retailer does not miss any potential customer due to browser incompatibility.

Cookies: Cookies store data and information as a web browser memory recalls the same as Preferences when a user revisits or returns to the same page. While testing an ecommerce website, it also necessary to test whether the site cookies are displayed to the user according to the content stored. Simultaneously, testers also need to check its expiry date, path, security settings and domain to ensure it transfers data between server and browser correctly.

User Registration & AccountsEcommerce website testing also requires one to test the customer registration process which helps verify whether each customer has unique id and password that is encrypted in the system. It must also include checking of user accounts and related information like transaction history, shipping address, stored information of credit/debit cards to ensure customers are never put into trouble while buying from your website.

Apart from all these, it is crucial to test other elements to ensure the ecommerce website functions as expected such as product search & filter, mobile device compatibility, SSL for web security and authentication, accessibility from different geographic locations, etc.

Too many elements require an effective test strategy

Since ecommerce testing requires added efforts to test all these elements over and above regular regression testing, one needs to adopt an effective test strategy that adds revenue stream giving high visibility and reach to a retailer. However, considering the agile market, including faster release cycles, frequent product updates, price changes and offers on a website, testers experience tough time coping with the requirements via manual testing.

To deliver the desired results and address the perennial testing needs of a given ecommerce application or website, most of the testers have now started embracing test automation practices.

Test Automation – The Right Key to satisfy the ecommerce testing needs

Test automation over traditional testing techniques yields much better, faster and quantifiable results. It ensures the implementations of transactions in an ecommerce website occur in an effective way without doing away with buying experience. It validates working of an ecommerce website even during peak loads and quick delivery cycles and replaces the tedious manual testing cycles scaling testing efforts to 50%.

Besides, test automation benefits in the following ways

  • Minimizes the time to run the same set of tests
  • Simplifies compatibility testing of an ecommerce website
  • Simplifies regressions testing by giving an ability to run automation scenarios during frequent product updates
  • Expands test coverage
  • Helps reduce overall cost of testing an ecommerce website

Test automation helps in testing overall performance of an ecommerce website keeping pace with frequent release cycles and updates allowing retailers to provide user-friendly buying experience to their customers.

Best practices to implement Test Automation of an ecommerce website

To implement Test Automation, retailers and test engineers together need to set up realistic plans. Here are some points that need to be considered to develop an effective test automation plan for testing an ecommerce/online shopping website:

Prerequisites & Assumption: Before starting with test automation of an ecommerce website, the parties involved need to figure out certain requirements and assumption so that they do not end up wasting time and resources in unnecessary processes.

  • Set-up a budget
  • Define objectives to be achieved in the given test cycle
  • Develop schedule
  • Identify the testing scope, covering the most important parts and processes to be included in testing

Identify Testing TypeSubsequent to the above step, you need to identify the testing type based on the scope. While ecommerce websites include several elements, you can either go for functional testing or opt for performance testing depending on your needs.

Identify Requirements to be automatedEach process in any ecommerce website has its own set of actions and validation criteria such as sign-up form functionalities, web-services calling methods to fetch the database related to products, search functionality, etc. Based on the priority and importance of process, you need to identify the requirement which needs be automated for achieving the desired test automation result.

Design Test Automation FrameworkA good test automation plan also requires a sound test automation framework containing scripts and scenario of the processes to be automated.

Select the Right Automation Tool: Evaluate and select the best automation tool based on your requirements, scope and testing type. This is a game changing step which can make or break your test automation efforts. Hence, an exhaustive checklist containing the following points needs to be developed at this stage, which helps you catch hold of the right tool for your ecommerce website test automation needs.

  • Teams involved in testing
  • Licensing cost
  • Maintenance cost
  • Training and support
  • Extensibility of tool
  • Performance and features of the tool

There are plenty of test automation tools like Telerik Test Studio, Selenium, TestComplete, Watir, TestingWhiz etc. which all addresses ecommerce website testing needs. While Selenium is a popular tool for testing all kinds of web applications, Telerik Test Studio helps in load, functional and performance testing.

On the other hand, new entrant TestingWhiz is a codeless test automation tool for automating any sort of website. It is the only tool that addresses testing needs with dozens of features and functions at absolutely zero cost. Learn more about TestingWhiz.

Ending Notes

Once you are ready with planning an effective course of action, all you need to do is to allocate the right time and resources. Even though it requires significant efforts and dedication to find the right testing partner and right automation tool, the end results will surely delight you.

Since your website is the gateway of your business, you should find that time and embrace test automation practices that helps you deliver the right buying experience to your customers and gives you more and more repeat customers.

Take the back seat and see how test automation can drive your ecommerce website performance to the next level ticking all the right boxes.

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