Gone are those days when one had step outdoors to shop or visit a nearest bank to make a transaction, courtesy the internet. Many retail service providers have empowered their customers with a cosy shopping or banking experience through their attractive websites and mobile apps. As customers have the luxury of a subdued online experience, not many of them would know that a bunch of gruelling testing activities take place to give them that luxury.

The user friendliness and the rich experience of any retail app or site is directly proportional to the testing complexity. The ever-branching features of retail websites and apps lead to number of new test scenarios making test maintenance more complex. Testing these scenarios on multi-platform and devices is again a thorn in the flesh. And here’s where test automation comes neat and handy.

Test automation is a onetime investment process. The setup of a robust framework is all that it takes for a sturdy testing process on the long run. And this principle is very desirable for the retail domain.

The following traits of test automation influences retail testing in the following ways:

1.Reduced manual labour 

Manual test execution on various platforms and devices can be painful given the never ending permutations and combinations of scenarios that retail domain offer. Executing several test cycles at various stages of development and production manually is reduced drastically with test automation, given that a single framework can work on multi platforms, devices and versions. Test automation has the aura to cover several types of testing required such as UI changes, functional level checks, sanity checks and so on. This leads to the time taken for re-testing to be optimal if not minimal.

2.Detect defects precisely and efficiently

Test automation feels convenient when there is a need to execute the same test steps on a wide range of test data, again a typical characteristic of the retail domain. Test automation also helps testers in recording test results and identifying defects at the earliest.

3.Cross platform testing

Retail domain spans over multiple devices, browsers and platforms. Test automation provides a one stop solution that can handle all flavours of retail domain elegantly.

4.Comprehensive regression pack

Test automation lets us to create an E2E coverage test suite which is very much desirable for quick executions and sanity checks. Retail domain is extremely dynamic and has a high rate of frequent modifications and transitions. Automated regression packs hence become great compatriots to testers, warranting them to perform quick and effective round of testing during releases and production.

Why is test automation the one stop solution?

When we speak about the online experience of a customer, the look and feel of the retail website and mobile app isn’t the only point of concern. The seamless manner in which the customer is able to view his choice of products and its details, by applying filters, searching using keywords, quick links to promotional offers , organized display of banners and promotions , changes according to seasons  and festivities and finally the simplicity of placing orders has lot of labour involved behind the screen. All these seamlessness and simplicity is a result of some intense API testing, functional testing and performance testing.

Requirements when tested independently and manually is time consuming and can be overwhelming during regression and production. The right choice of automation tool and the ability of a Test automation engineer to augment a test framework that can accommodate UI testing, API testing, DB testing and Performance testing is all that takes to comb a one stop solution for our retail domain testing needs.

Retail domain isn’t just confined to the online experience of customers. Retail vendors continue to strive to offer the best possible experience to its customers visiting their stores by means of intelligent POS and KIOSKS. The life of sales executives have been made relatively easy with the arrival of Warehouse Management System (WMS). Any new implementation of a technology stack to an existing product means more demand in quality and thus more testing. The impact of automation testing stretches its arms onto any new technology that is brought into picture and the best part; it comes up with same business level impact regardless of where it is put into use.

Currency today is not how much money you can save, but how much time you can save. Automation is arguably the best answer to the ever increasing faster to market time demands against the reduced cost of quality. Automation not only ensures lesser time to delivery but also gives a better possibility of wise resource allocation and management. It also has the ability to foresee the scalability of the test application and can replicate the load and stress levels that application can go through, thus enabling business to avoid any production level damages.

Test automation is certainly significant in the context of retail domain, but doesn’t assure a cake walk, needless to say. Test automation would sound sane only after a robust framework is set up. Quality of automation scripts determines the usefulness of automation on a long run. Script maintenance can never be kept at bay as it aids better test coverage and early defect detection. Test data availability can also be a cause of concern.

Reliability is not always synonymous to test automation. There may be an urge to double check the results thrown by the automated test suite execution to ensure no script level failures, making test automation not completely reliable. To summate, retail domain testing has never been the same after test automation came into picture. Though test automation looks very beneficiary to retail domain testing, one cannot ignore the challenges it has in store for the testers. If testers can better handle these challenges, test automation would not only contribute more to the quality of the end product delivered and but also assures to bring down the pain points of testing.

divya.madaan

Senior Project Manager at Aspire Systems
Divya Madaan works as Senior Project Manager at Aspire Systems. She has 14+years of experience in Account Management, Project Management and Test Consulting. Majorly focusing on retail domain she has been providing testing solution to Retail clients with expertise in test automation. Apart from delivering multiple projects successfully she has been an active technical blogger and prominent speaker.