In the world of eCommerce, site testing is more important than you might think. Regularly rolling out updates to keep up with the competitors and introduce new features or product lines is all well and good, but only if you can ensure performance and stability remain consistent.
Thankfully there are a raft of tools and techniques aimed at achieving this, whether through manual means or with the help of automation.
So when it comes to automating your web testing, what are the particular hurdles which eCommerce operators have to overcome, and how can they go about this?
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If you run an eCommerce business, you probably have a number of different teams working to keep your site functioning smoothly.
This is not a problem in principle, but if you are planning to automate aspects of your testing, then it could be trickier to wrangle without implementing additional stages of planning and collaboration between the teams involved.
For this reason it is sensible to both allocate enough time for the planning to take place ahead of testing, and also to ensure that representatives from each team are involved from day one.
Another advantage of emphasizing the collaborative aspects of test automation is that this should enable you to weed out issues sooner rather than later. Getting different perspectives on the testing process will ultimately end up being more efficient than rushing ahead with little input, only to find flaws in methodologies further down the line.
Clearly you also need to foster an environment in which cross-team collaboration is not only actively encouraged but also streamlined. Members need to have access to the tools that will let them work alongside colleagues from different departments, rather than feeling isolated, or that they are having to fight to get their point across.
The final key to successful test automation in a cross-team context is comprehensive documentation. Getting key elements down in writing and making this available to all involved will avoid ambiguity and also prevent people falling out of the loop.
Good communication has to come from the top down, and not just be expected of those you manage while not being reflected in your own actions.
Another potential sticking point for eCommerce businesses looking to automate the testing of their websites is that this industry is very trend-led, as mentioned earlier. This can force brands to quickly adapt to encompass emerging shifts in customer behavior, which might in turn create complexities from a test automation perspective.
Take the ever-increasing switch away from desktop devices to portable platforms for web browsing and online purchases. Responsive web design has been a must-have for years now, and yet it is still an uphill struggle to encompass the many different device types, screen sizes and input methods which customers might be expected to rely upon.
If the interface needs to be adapted because of a trend like this, or other elements of a site have to be changed within a short timeframe, entire tests may have to be reconfigured with this in mind, and for automated setups this is obviously trickier.
One way around this is to take advantage of cloud-powered test automation tools which are more flexible and versatile than their traditional equivalents, and offer you the option to respond rapidly to whatever market pressures are applied.
More impressive still is the proportion of modern test automation solutions which offer a low-coder or even no-code approach to testing. So rather than having to reinvent the wheel whenever you want to make a change, you can tweak configurations to encompass new customer behaviors with minimal fuss.
This is not just a talking point from a test automation perspective, but also more broadly when thinking about how eCommerce sites are put together and maintained in the modern age. In many cases there will be some kind of third party service that is plumbed into your site to enhance its functionality without increasing the developmental overheads at your end.
Such integrations are a godsend in many ways, whether they are used to provide payment processing, security, offer code support or location-based delivery information. Of course where testing is concerned, they can amplify the uncertainty and throw a spanner in the works of your best laid plans.
Automating your web testing with third party add-ons in mind will again require more planning and work upfront. You cannot afford to overlook the impact that these features can have on how your site performs, and as visitors are very susceptible to things like page load speed, this effort is worthwhile in the long run.
Ultimately it is about reframing how you think about site testing. With automation, once you have put in the time and resources to get it up and running, things will become far easier. It may not be as immediate as manual, human testing methodologies in the short term, but its long term advantages are significant, and of course it is usually harnessed in combination with incumbent strategies, rather than in place of them entirely.
Finally, test automation can be an imperfect option when it comes to ensuring that the right information is displayed on product pages when new lines are added or the details of an existing product are changed.
That is not to say that automation is entirely powerless in this context, but rather that it will need to be checked and augmented by manual testing in order to ensure nothing goes awry.
This all paints a positive picture of how automating your web testing is worthwhile for all sorts of eCommerce operations. In such a competitive market, anything you can do to get the edge over competitors is worth pursuing, and having a site which is easy to use and performs consistently must be a priority. Test automation makes achieving this less strenuous, so long as you take the challenges into account as soon as possible.