Testing Isn’t Just for the Holidays: How to Drive Year-Round E-Commerce Success
The sheer volume of online sales in recent years has taken the entire retail industry, from small businesses to global enterprises, by storm. The faster, more convenient channel makes it possible for consumers to shop anywhere, anytime.
While holiday shopping and cyber sales draw peak traffic to sites throughout November and December — 59 percent of consumers leverage websites and mobile applications as their primary channels for holiday gift shopping — delivering the best customer experiences needs to be a year-round effort by retailers. It starts with understanding consumer shopping sentiments, attitudes and perspectives on how an app or website should perform to meet their digital shopping expectations.
What Shoppers Expect
Today’s digital-first, same-day delivery world has forever altered customers’ patience and expectations. As part of a U.S. consumer survey, shoppers revealed that the most frustrating online and mobile app shopping experiences are slow load times (34 percent), product images not loading (25 percent), and items in the cart disappearing (22 percent).
Moreover, 31 percent of shoppers believe a website or app should never crash, and an even larger percentage (78 percent) are willing to take their business elsewhere if a mobile application crashes or is slow. Online retailers must do all they can to avoid these experiences to maintain customer loyalty, especially when these subpar experiences spark frustration — 68 percent of consumers surveyed have felt like throwing their phones against the wall when a shopping app crashes.
How Retailers Can Deliver Memorable Experiences
Increasingly, back-end development teams are being called on to help with the modernization and advancement of digital technologies to improve mobile and web performance and exceed user experience expectations.
Retailers should spend more time taking a continuous testing approach to simulate realistic shopping patterns and shopper volume to pressure-test peak performance. This exercise increasingly requires those same retailers to consider the people, processes and technology — in that order — to find success.
- People: Ensuring your team's success ensures yours. Retail leaders must reskill and upskill the workforce to create a test-first development approach, placing technically aware testers at the heart of back-end operations.
- Processes: Identifying a process-driven approach allows teams to capture all testing elements throughout the entire software development lifecycle — from the initial build to the release. The processes should also support the wide array of tests needed, from API (Application Program Interface) to security and performance, accessibility, and functionality.
- Technology: With the rise of 5G, foldables and more, it’s become increasingly important to understand the entire technology stack teams use and evaluate their impact on test coverage, collaboration and innovation. Avoiding time-consuming testing bottlenecks due to insufficient technology or too many technologies at play is critical.
A Foundational Testing Approach
Delightful digital experiences are non-negotiable — the cost of failure could result in lost customers. Creating testing strategies that can deliver the best outcomes is imperative. Here are four critical elements of year-round customer loyalty:
- The Checkout Experience is Safe and Secure: 59 percent of consumers view a safe and secure checkout experience as a non-starter. Go through the checkout process and test every step along the way to ensure the complex payment ecosystem and financial regulations are met while increasing consumer confidence that they're providing their personal banking information to a secure site. Identify any potential customer experience red flags and test the back-end gateway functionality.
- Items in the Cart Are Available: 58 percent of consumers don’t want to spend time adding items to their cart only to find out they aren’t in stock. Test the stock counts and “add to cart” functionality to capture accurate product availability.
- The Coupon Codes Work: 47 percent of consumers expect coupon codes to work without complications. Gifting shoppers with discounts is a tried-and-true way to increase sales, but it remains critical to capture the correct percentage. Confirm deals and discount codes work the way they're intended to avoid upset customers if the percentage is less than communicated and avoid lost revenue if the percentage is higher than planned.
- The Page and Image Load Time is Quick: 47 percent of consumers expect pages and images to load quickly. Pressure testing a website or app is an effective way to identify any issues with response time, page load time, screen size load issues, and overall performance. Improving the page and image load time requires developers to test various scenarios and identify ways to improve the experience if anything lags.
Quality, high-performing mobile apps and websites drastically impact consumers’ perspectives and experiences — and it's what they’ve come to expect. As brands evaluate ways to keep engaged, loyal customers coming back, retail leaders must set themselves apart by developing a proactive and robust testing strategy for continuous testing throughout the year. These strategies help provide quick feedback, enhanced reporting, and always-on improvement so outages are restored faster and shoppers remain engaged with your brand. With testing at the heart of operations, retailers can have the best shopping season, every season.
Related story: 5 Ways to Keep E-Commerce Customers Coming Back
Bharath Vantari joined Perforce with the acquisition of Blazemeter as a Technical Consultant in the Presales team. where he delivers solution expertise and successful client engagements across the USA. He is an advisor and a SME on all continuous testing products within Perforce. Bharath comes with significant technical experience on CT product set (i.e. Blazemeter CT) that help in shifting left and how we are helping to automate testing, improve quality, and deliver code more reliably.