Retail is evolving at breakneck speed. A slew of digital transformation programs are taking place across all business functions- e-commerce, POS, social and mobile transformations, data analytics for insights into user behavior, and of course, various back-end processes.
The digitally driven market environment calls for rapid and relentless product launches without compromising on user experience and features. Automation of testing process is not only desirable, but in fact mandatory if you want to manage escalating test volumes at increased speeds, and reap solid returns from your digital transformation efforts.
Meeting the Quality Challenges Typical to Retail
We will discuss some of the typical quality challenges faced by today’s retailers and offer key insights on how they can be met with increased levels of test automation.
The Need for Enhanced Speed at Reduced Costs
In a dynamic digital landscape, retail applications are often updated and released frequently (for instance, weekly or more). There is thus a need to deliver efficient, fit-for-purpose solutions with greater speed and agility. Software tests have to be repeated often during development cycles, across all supported operating systems and hardware configurations.
This calls for increased levels of test automation since manually repeating such tests takes up a great deal of time. Test automation reduces the time required to run repetitive tests from days to hours, providing much shorter delivery cycles. Once created, automated tests can be repeated at no extra QA cost, which means speedier solution deployment and valuable cost savings for the retailer.
Seamless Omni-channel Deployment
Omni-channel expectations are catching on quickly across the retail landscape. Customers today expect to shop anytime, anywhere, from any internet-connected device, and a seamless experience across all retail touchpoints.
As a result, there is an ever-growing number of devices, in combination with various operating system versions and network bandwidth simulations that need to be tested.
Test automation can be a critical aid in managing the escalating test volumes at increased speeds across interconnected systems. It has the ability to remarkably improve the depth and scope of test scripts, thereby enhancing software quality. Unlike manual testing processes, test automation can easily execute thousands of different complex test cases during every test run, delving into many different aspects of how well your digital programs are functioning and validating various business scenarios.
For the retailer, this translates into fewer mistakes, and an enhanced customer experience alongside a potential increase in revenue. When the repetitive tasks are automated, the efforts of testers can solely be used to focus on new functionality verification.
Complex Integration Challenges
A digitally mature retail ecosystem calls for true integration between various components on the backend, both internal as well as with numerous third party application. Integration of the increasingly complex landscape of devices, systems, services and applications across the digital and physical spaces is a huge challenge for testers.
For instance, to manage promotions across both digital and physical channels, POS devices need to be integrated with several other software systems like warehouse, inventory, supply chain, merchandizing etc. alongside various in-store devices like sensors, terminals, kiosks and screens.
A comprehensive omni-channel test strategy must take into account the diverse integration challenges that arise due to multiplicity of channels and dynamic user behavior. In such a scenario, automated testing becomes imperative to realistically conceive and then validate the multifarious workflow routings, isolate key issues and provide actionable inputs to the development team.
Surging User Expectations
An analysis by Kissmetrics reveals that 40 per cent abandon sites with slow upload; 79 per cent of shoppers dissatisfied with a site do not return; 44 per cent share the bad experience with their friends.
A positive UX (User Experience) can be an important differentiator for your retail brand. On the other hand, a poor UX can have an adverse impact on your business outcomes and brand image.
Functionalities such as personalized search and discovery of products, the ability to give a real life-like touch and feel experience to products etc. are critical.
For instance, when a customer browses a particular item, is your recommendation engine able to suggest relevant and related products? How well is your algorithm able to cross-sell or upsell? These scenarios must be validated to ensure customer delight in an omni-channel world.
It is also crucial to ensure a consistent user and brand experience, which feels seamless across a multitude of channels and form factors. Every version of your software must therefore be compatible across browsers, operating systems and devices. An exhaustive testing framework is needed to ensure that the functionality, user experience works across all these permutations and combinations, as expected.
It isn’t easy to perform controlled web application tests manually with several concurrent users. But, test automation makes it possible to simulate vast numbers of virtual users interacting with a network of e-commerce, mobile and internet solutions.
Digital transformation has brought security and data integrity into sharp focus.
The sheer number of mobile payment solutions, POS applications, mobile payment solutions, POS credit card enabled mobile apps, and wireless technology makes the entire system highly vulnerable to security threats, if not properly configured and tested.
One of the major vulnerabilities in Mobile Solutions and especially in Mobile Payment Solutions are weak points in the transaction flow from user interface on smartphone devices to the back end system.
This necessitates rigorous security testing for potential threats by focusing on application profiling, authentication, data validation and encryption algorithms.
Retailers therefore need to create a thorough security testing framework that increases their own security checks in the design phases and include tools to increase the level of automation for dynamic application security testing.
The retail digital business landscape has become too diverse, too complex. To ensure each component in a digitally mature ecosystem delivers optimum performance, enhanced levels of test automation is absolutely mandatory.
Aspire’s in-house test automation framework AFTA 2.0 is specifically designed to make the most effective use of test automation covering all the above parameters, and has helped several retail CIOs deliver timely and quality results, aimed at improving customer experience.