Testing Strategies For The eCommerce Shopping Season

eCommerce is now a high-octane space with almost all retailers vying to make a winning online presence. As the holiday season kicks into gear with Black Friday and Cyber Mondays and continues on to Christmas, online retailers have to ensure that just like their brick and mortar store, their online store too is ready to service the heavy footfalls in the weeks ahead. Large retailers such as Walmart and Target too have worked on their online stores to avert incidents that they faced in 2015 where their eCommerce stores buckled under the pressure of heavy traffic on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. eCommerce companies, both big and small, are working to improve the digital experience provided by their eStore by improving reliability and increasing capacity to handle and manage high traffic. An Adobe Digital Insights report shows that approximately “35% of Americans are ready to shop right at the dinner table to ensure a good deal”. A Synchrony Financial survey shows “that more than half of holiday shoppers say the best deals are online, and 37% report they plan to do more of that this year, given the pretty much, anytime, anywhere convenience.” It thus becomes essential that the online retailers provide a seamless and hassle-free shopping experience for greater profits in the holiday season.

While having a great digital strategy forms an essential part of increasing sales in the holiday season, one way eTailers can ensure that their online store performs optimally is by testing their website. In this blog, we take a look at a few testing strategies for the eCommerce shopping season.

  • Catalog and segment infrastructure – ease of use:
    Given that the number of items and related discounts increases considerably during the shopping season, eTailers must ensure that all these items are displayed correctly on the Products page. Along with this, testing that all products and the associated discounts are reflecting correctly, the cataloging of the products has been done correctly and that product browsing is easy become imperative. Testers also have to ensure that all search options reflect and display correctly, the number of products on a particular page present themselves correctly, there is no duplication of products on the next page and ensure that pagination and filtering options work in harmony so that the user can browse through the website with ease.
  • Load and Performance testing:
    Research from load balancing and cyber security solutions company Radware showed that slow eCommerce websites contribute to 18% of shopping cart abandonments. Thus, testers need to make sure that the website loads fast, especially when the traffic to the website is high. Testers should look at the historical data and then assess the spike in the traffic that can be expected on the website. Along with the traffic, testers need to test the web application components such as the hardware, the database, and the network bandwidth to assess if these can handle the anticipated load and accordingly adjust the application’s performance profile. Additionally, testers will also need to assess how many concurrent requests the system can handle at maximum load, assess if response time for all test paths is acceptable, assess the reason for poor website performance such as large data sets, or browser incompatibility etc. Extensive load testing will also determine if the website needs to deploy more load balancers to eliminate the problem of refused connections that ultimately leads to disgruntled customers.
  • Mobile testing:
    Pymnts.com estimated that Mobile sales grew by almost 53% from 2014 to 2015 on Cyber Monday and accounted for USD $514 million in revenues. According to a report by Dynatrace, over 50% millennials (who are the largest and fastest growing demographic in the US) who use smartphones do more holiday shopping from their mobile devices than in-store. Thus testers have to make sure that they do not ignore performance testing for mobile and ensure that the mobile application or the mobile website does not crash under peak pressure. Along with the overall performance testing for mobile, testers have to also assess problems and get solutions for problems such as mobile latency and conduct mobile network speed simulations for optimal performance.
  • Shopping cart and payments:
    Testers have to make sure that all products in the shopping cart display correctly when the user proceeds to checkout. Given that people are pressed for time, they need to ensure that the checkout process is smooth and that all discount codes reflect correctly. Regression testing with all active and inactive codes thus becomes important. Testers also have to make sure that the discount codes are not putting an undue amount of load on the database as this too, can impact the performance of a website. Finally, they need to check that all the payment systems in use function appropriately even during peak traffic.
  • Security:
    eTailers also must account for the security of their customers. Data from ACI Worldwide reveals that while eCommerce transaction grew by 21% in 2015 from Thanksgiving, the attempts grew by just 8%! Testers thus should make sure that the security layer is not compromised by ensuring secure handling of incoming and outgoing data, doing more penetration tests to identify vulnerabilities and taking a multi-layered approach to security.

Conclusion:
With eCommerce sales estimated to cross $414.0 billion by 2018, making sure that your eCommerce website performs according to the expectations of the customer, especially during the holiday shopping season becomes imperative. By taking a methodical and planned approach to eCommerce testing, eTailers can make sure that they can unwrap the holiday season with profits.

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