Testing Challenges eCommerce Managers Should Know About
An eCommerce solution is expected to ease the way your customers shop, and thus, bring you additional profit. However, a buggy solution (be it a website or a user mobile application) results in lost revenue and spoilt brand reputation. So it’s crucial to ensure that your eCommerce solution corresponds to business needs and technology specifications and meets customer expectations—in other words, to test it.
For eCommerce managers, testing (be it testing before the solution is launched or regular testing to check its ability to stand high load and security challenges) may seem to be a terra incognita full of specific terms. However, knowing some testing basics helps better understand what troubles a solution can bring and how to prevent them. In our new article, we focus on eCommerce testing challenges and describe them without going into complicated technical details.
How General Testing Challenges Undermine the Success of eCommerce
Although the eCommerce industry has its specifics, general testing challenges any way may have a significant impact on the success of eCommerce testing.
Poor test strategy
For eCommerce solutions, a bad testing strategy means especially painful blows, such as delayed time to market, lost customers and market opportunities, and numerous customer complaints. Thus, a testing vendor or an internal testing team should carefully outline a general testing scope, set up testing objectives, choose testing types, estimate approximate efforts, and involve a professional test team.
Also, the right order of testing and fixing bugs is needed. For example, performance testing and improvements not followed by usability testing may be just a waste of time and money. For example, using smaller pics to increase a page load time may influence usability. For mobile users, it may be inconvenient to take a closer look at the items in your online store. So, a testing strategy should provide for logical testing order.
Unrealistic time and budget expectations
With too tough of time frames and budget limitations, some types of eCommerce testing may be either given too little attention or even ignored (for example, personalization testing and integration testing). This is likely to cause problems with a solution’s functionality, security, performance, usability, and other aspects. An eCommerce project manager should work in cooperation with a test lead to consider the complexity and the specifics of a solution and the scope of its features to be tested to acquire realistic time expectations and costs of the testing process.
Poor communication among project participants
Without effective communication in a test team (e.g., in preparing a test strategy, a test plan, and test cases) and between a test team, a development team, or an eCommerce admin, eCommerce testing suffers in terms of time and quality. Establishing communication includes choosing the means of communication (e.g., chat or email), establishing meeting schedules, creating the base with the shared documents and so on. For an eCommerce manager, it’s important to regularly communicate with test leads (for example, weekly or monthly) to better supervise the testing process and tune the risk management plan if needed.
eCommerce-Specific Testing Problems
Some pitfalls of eCommerce testing are connected with the specifics of the industry and the distinct environment that eCommerce solutions operate in.
A testing team lacks commerce knowledge
Although general testing skills matter, a team with not enough eCommerce testing experience needs more time for testing and may skip important testing aspects (e.g., usability-related points). If the company has an internal test team with no necessary eCommerce testing skills or needs to speed up the testing process, outsourcing can be a good way out. However, it’s important to make sure beforehand that an outsourced team suits the project. For example, it’s important to check team members’ portfolios and conduct comprehensive interviews.
Usability testing is inadequate
Poor usability, which is made manifest in an inconvenient layout of the solution’s elements and unclear navigation, among other things, hinders users from effective and generous shopping. When facing usability issues with an eCommerce solution, users are likely to abandon it without purchasing a thing.
The challenge of testing usability is that this aspect is rather subjective. Only a test team experienced in eCommerce can reliably reproduce the real-life context for different users shopping with an eCommerce solution in different situations.
Performance testing is incomplete
Even if your eCommerce solution seems to perform its functions without serious problems, it can be thrown off its stride in non-standard situations. For example, with a higher load on Black Friday and other sales events, with numerous redirects from external advertisements. If an eCommerce solution is not prepared for high load, it may crash, resulting in a large number of dissatisfied customers. So, a test team should plan performance testing, taking into account non-standard situations the solution may face and prepare corresponding test cases to check its behavior in such conditions.
Integration is segmental or does not cover all third-party systems
An eCommerce solution comprises various services and subsystems including the ones managed by external providers like product search, a content service, a booking engine, an account service, and a payment service. These services should be tested not only separately, but also as one system because with integration bugs, neither customers nor retailers will be able to perform a purchase scenario.
For effective integration testing, the providers of external systems should be involved (e.g., to check how payments are processed). Apart from the communication challenges, external providers may be reluctant to take their systems off to the testing mode, and a test team may need to use simulators of these external systems to perform testing. It’s also needed to test how an eCommerce solution behaves when an external system (e.g., a payment system) doesn’t work, or the connection is broken, to plan some mitigation options (such as error messages or redirects to other solution’s pages).
To Sum it Up
Testing an eCommerce solution is a tough but crucial task, as the bugs that go unnoticed before the solution comes to end users have a direct influence on online sales. Although eCommerce managers are not expected to participate in testing, they can check the quality of a test strategy and adequacy of testing time and budget expectations and ensure effective communication with a test team. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that eCommerce testing has its specifics.
The test team should have experience in testing for eCommerce to effectively address such complicated aspects of eCommerce solutions as, for example, usability, integrations, and performance. All of these points are important to gain the ultimate aim, an effective eCommerce solution performing its functions for all users and in various conditions.
Andrei is a Software Testing Director at ScienceSoft headquartered in McKinney, Texas. Andrei has 15+ years of experience in a range of SDLC processes, from testing and BA to and project management and QA. Throughout his career Andrei has successfully worked under various methodologies: RUP, MSF, XP, Agile and CMMI III/IV levels. He also has a proven expertise in developing a quality testing process under these methodologies.