A 2013 Deloitte Annual Holiday Survey revealed that, for the first time ever, 47% of consumers would be shopping online for their holiday purchases, surpassing the 37% who would conduct their shopping traditionally in physical stores. This percentage of online shoppers has only grown, and the majority of these consumers (70%) are using their smartphones to make their purchases. E-Commerce retailers are also utilizing tablets and smartphones in-store to display their full inventory via their retail site.
What are these numbers telling us? Your e-commerce website/mobile site/app NEEDS to work.
To understand what makes testing for E-Commerce necessary, we’ll focus on a variety elements and how they impact online retail (for better or for worse). Understanding the implications of these elements will allow you to focus and prioritize your E-Commerce testing.
Error Free Checkout
The fickle nature of mobile device users means that any error in the path from product to purchase is an excuse for a consumer to leave. Several usability studies indicated that users were observed as “impatient and unforgiving” when it came to bugs in the layout. The majority of users faced with blockers such as errors or maintenance on the website/app abandoned their purchase! The average cart abandonment rate is 68%, an already high number that should clue you in to how easily a customer can be dissuaded from a purchase. A single bug or error could cause everything you have invested into getting a customer to your website (or even the point of checkout) to go to waste. This is reason enough to ensure that your retail site is free of any bugs, issues, or flaws.
The current blend of browser + operating system + device can create a challenging combination of variables to test for. However, leaving out even one of the combinations can result in functionality/responsive errors, and eventually a frustrated user. Your user will expect the same core functionality (viewing and purchasing products) out of both a full site and mobile site, and ensuring that these experiences align is important. Switching costs are lower than ever and competition is abundant; combined with the aforementioned fickle nature of users, any inconsistency in your app is a reason to choose a competitor.
A virtual storefront must be treated with the same weight as a brick and mortar storefront; it is every bit representative of your company and brand as an in-person shopping experience would be. Issues that occur in a retail store are resolved with urgency by the employees; when shopping online, the closest a user can get to immediate assistance is a live chat. Furthermore, a bad experience in-person is likely going to be due to a singular circumstance (the credit card processors were down for an hour, an employee was sick leaving the store understaffed, etc.). A customer may expect to have this experience again, but may also be more forgiving of a circumstance beyond the retailer’s control. A bad virtual experience caused by a functionality error is going to be perceived as completely the fault of the retailer, and something that a consumer will factor into their decision to return to the website/app. Because of this disparity, there must be a present effort to ensure the prevention of issues, and ultimately the preservation of your brand.
It can be tempting to jam pack as many features into your mobile web/app as possible. However, from a user’s standpoint, this can easily backfire and make the app appear intimidating, confusing, or even clunky. Testing for usability will validate that the design and feel of the site/app reflects or surpasses customer expectation. You could have all the working buttons and links in the world; if no one wants to click on them, they’re useless. We delve into more specifics related to usability in our post detailing the top challenges with mobile testing.
While not at the forefront in the same way functional testing is, the impact of backend testing carries just as much weight as other test types. Simply put, backend testing deals with the data that is working behind the scenes to power your site/app. Load testing is a part of this, and one of its main benefits is allowing us to know how many users a website can handle before it goes down. Black Friday is a practical example of why E-Commerce sites/apps need to engage in backend testing: the increased site traffic will be exponentially greater than a regular day of e-commerce, and the retailer must account for this. This means load testing should be a priority. A website or app malfunctioning due to high traffic will result in revenue loss and users seeking substitutes. In 2014, Best Buy‘s site went down during peak hours on Black Friday weekend, leading to a plethora of unhappy customers and squandering what could have been a memorable success.
In the past, both United Airlines and Amazon found themselves dealing with critical pricing issues caused by an error. This resulted in the companies either canceling orders (frustrating customers) or honoring the incorrect price (losing revenue). Choosing between hurting your brand or losing revenue is the last scenario a company wants to be in; they will either eat the cost, or end up perceived as uncaring towards their customers. A pricing issue is just one of many error types that can result from having a bug filled app/site; a single error can be anything from a minor inconvenience in functionality to a showstopper that takes down your website. In E-Commerce, these errors (no matter how big or small) are guaranteed to have tangible, negative consequences. With 90% of users saying they stopped using an app due to poor performance, there is no room for error.
As you can see, testing for E-Commerce is a multifaceted process that demands a concentrated effort. Having conducted over 2 million automated tests cross browser + cross device with our Awetest framework, 3Qi is no stranger to incorporating all of these elements into how we approach testing. We know that understanding the “Why?” aspect of testing is just as significant as the execution. Channeling this understanding into your E-Commerce testing strategy is essential, and will result in a superior user experience.