5 Ways to Test E-commerce Websites

Why test e-commerce websites? Retail e-commerce sales are projected to reach $6.54 billion by 2023. This shouldn’t be surprising as ordering products online has been recognised by consumers as one of the most convenient ways of shopping, and technological advancements have made internet shopping lightning-fast.

With the intense e-commerce competition, consumers’ expectations are rising too, leaving businesses with no other option but provide flawless user experience across every connected device. What’s the cornerstone of this experience? According to a1qa, it’s software quality.

If the website loading time is even slightly below users’ expectations or the search box returns errors, it’s a safe bet that these users will never give another chance to that store. Nowadays, rigorous testing of e-commerce platforms should be the top priority before the launch. Let’s look at the five most important areas of e-commerce testing.

#1 – Loading speed testing

Slow loading is a deal-breaker for the majority of customers and a huge free gain for your competitors. I suggest figuring out the standard loading times for your niche and aim for this specific metric accordingly. However, the real struggle starts when peak load times need to be optimised.

Essentially, this is a matter of risk management. Most e-commerce platforms with thought-out strategy will have a sales season at one point, which always brings in thousands of people logging in at the same time. It’s crucial to measure how fast product pages are loading and how the website is handling traffic spikes to ensure the website integrity, even at its peak user count.

Although it seems that load testing is not a complicated task, the complexity lies in the multitude of variables that come into play. For example, authorised and guest users have a different effect on the platform’s performance.

Moreover, it’s the matter of what exactly those users are doing on the website. Are they browsing, checking out, searching, filtering, signing in, or filling their carts? To avoid unexpected downtimes, revenue losses, and damaged brand image, it is vital to ensure that the website performs well regardless of the combination of variables.

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#2 – Search box testing

The search box is an absolute must-have feature and a quality indicator of e-commerce platforms. An ineffective and bug-ridden search engine is one of the biggest reasons for low conversion rates and customers’ disappointment. Users get justly frustrated when they know the needed product is there but fail to find it via search.

Search results need to be relevant and displayed correctly. It is crucial to ensure that the search module works as intended regardless of its position on the website.

In most cases, the same piece of code is used in multiple instances across the platform, so testing all of them is a waste of resources. In case you need to test the search engine in multiple languages on hundreds of web pages, test automation is a perfect fit for this task.

#3 – Mobile compatibility testing

Given the rapid technological advancement of mobile phones and tablets coupled with the ever-increasing internet speed, it shouldn’t be surprising that Business Insider Intelligence predicts that m-commerce will reach 45% of the total U.S. e-commerce market, which is equal to $488 billion, by 2024. Hence, ensuring a smooth shopping experience across mobile devices is as important as never before.

Considering that the rich functionality of the desktop browser version needs to be mirrored in a mobile browser, m-commerce testing is not an easy task. Moreover, mobile commerce has its range of nuances as well. For example, the network speed and types of mobile network technologies like 4G and LTE can greatly differ on mobile devices, which has to be considered when conducting performance testing.

Combinations of screen sizes, versions of operating systems, software configurations, availability of hard keypad buttons, and other variables need to be sufficiently tested to ensure that usability stays consistent across the wide range of devices available on the market.

#4 – Security testing

It takes one missed security vulnerability to damage the brand image and lose your customers’ trust forever. Essentially, online shopping platforms are your biggest databases of personally identifiable information and financial data, which is why e-commerce is among hackers’ favorite targets. Here is the list of the must-have security checks for e-commerce platforms:

  • Data encryption through the SSL certificate to ensure the security of personal and financial data.
  • PCI DSS compliance to ensure the security of financial transactions.
  • Static application security testing to detect vulnerabilities susceptible to SQL injections, XSS, and buffer overflows at the earliest stages of development to ensure sufficient protection from cyber-attacks.

The above list covers the basics. Full-cycle, robust security checks would require considerable amounts of resources and expertise. For example, for smaller niche online retailers, I highly suggest running their store on a SaaS platform so that they could do without server checks and the installation of complex security systems.
All sensitive information can be stored in the cloud, and the platform vendor will be responsible for any security-related operations. However, the website’s security team will still need to maintain the integrity of their internal network.

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#5 – Payment gateway testing

This is a typical pain point in any e-commerce website as a few seconds of delay in transaction approval can easily result in customer support kerfuffle. The two most important aspects here are to make transactions as instant as possible and provide the highest level of security on the merchant’s end.

I suggest starting with functional testing to ensure that payment methods are visible and fully operational, notifications are sent as intended to both the customer and the merchant and that customers are redirected back to the website after checkout. This should be complemented with system integration testing to validate the seamless connectivity of the online store and the payment processing system. Then performance testing takes place to verify stability across different environments, followed by database and security tests.

Regardless of how advanced and rigorous one’s e-commerce testing is, some bugs become apparent only after the website is launched. Moreover, any changes in website architecture, from the addition of new product categories to UI updates, usually impact the platform’s functionality and security.

Therefore, it’s imperative to continuously revisit and track any deviations from what is considered a normal performance, especially after updates. The highly competitive nature of e-commerce platforms calls for seamless, secure, and consistent customer experience, be it on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.

See more software testing resources on EuroSTAR Huddle.

About the Author

Elena

Elena Yakimova is the Head of Web Testing Department at software testing company a1qa. She started her career in QA in 2008. Now Elena’s in-house QA team consists of 115 skilled engineers who have successfully completed more than 250 projects in telecom, retail, e-commerce, and other verticals.
Find out more about @e-yakimova

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