Pandemic-influenced market dynamics have represented a mixed bag for the e-commerce and retail industry. On the one hand, modern retailers continue to grapple with supply chain restrictions and production issues due to mandatory remote work conditions. But, on the other hand, it led to some of the biggest demand spikes in the history of digital retail. In the US alone, the retail e-commerce business went up by 33.6% last year – resulting in close to $800 billion generated in sales.

Considering that the holiday season is around the corner, it may sound like things are looking up more for retailers, right?

Well, here’s the tricky part.

Booming business implies a heavy flow of traffic to their websites, apps, and other digital assets. Especially with fewer customers opting for physical shopping experiences, websites or apps are more prone to crashes and other performance issues that may affect purchasing decisions.

Hence, retailers rely on performance testing to thoroughly assess and optimize the functionalities of their e-commerce application to increase customer engagement. Performance testing is all about evaluating how a specific software or application performance in a specific scenario.

And in this case, some of the major criteria that performance testing looks to establish are:

  • Speed – How quickly does the application respond to user actions?
  • Scalability – How much traffic can the v handle?
  • Stability – How reliable is application performance under different loads?
  • Responsiveness – How does the application load across varying browsers?

Building trust-based customer relationships

For instance, it helps ensure that a product page takes less time to load, giving customers the freedom to browse at a comfortable pace. Another example would be that performance testing can enable customers to optimize search results – making it easier to find exactly what they want.

There’s also the matter of protecting e-commerce applications from emerging cybersecurity threats. With customers sharing sensitive information like credit/debit card numbers, personal profile details, etc., the onus is on modern retailers to make customers feel safe and comfortable while browsing. Just last month, the website of the third-largest retailer in the world and UK’s largest supermarket chain unexpectedly crashed – leaving their customers fuming.

Even if there are minor performance issues, it can lower the level of trust that customers have in the retail brand. However, undertaking performance testing of e-commerce and retail applications, it becomes easy to detect bugs and other technical issues that may cause customer dissatisfaction.

Types of performance testing applicable for e-commerce stores 

  • Load testing: As the most basic form of performance testing, it observes how the application fares when exposed to a normal workload. Load testing can assist in unearthing patterns in application latency and performance.
  • Endurance testing: Also known as soak testing, it looks at application performance from a long-term perspective. It assesses how the application performs under constantly varying workloads over a period of time.
  • Stress testing: It exposes the application to heavy workload conditions to have a clear idea of which components are most likely to fail. Stress testing helps understand the robustness of the online store in the face of high traffic volume.
  • Spike testing: It tests the ability of the application to manage the unexpected spike in traffic by suddenly (and significantly) increasing the workload volume. This helps in finding out how much traffic the application can handle before performance issues start to occur.

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In conclusion

The key to success in the e-commerce retail space is to gain as much customer mindshare as possible. Attracting them to the website/app is a surefire way of increasing the odds of earning more revenue and builder a wider customer base. And as earlier mentioned, getting a lot of traffic can be a boon when its performance is consistent and well-oiled. But it can turn out to be a curse if the application buckles under pressure.

In a situation where the latter happens, it can also affect the value that marketing brings to the table. Let’s say that a retailer is offering a big-time discount for a Black Friday winter sale. And when the countdown starts, the website’s loading time gets extended due to the heavy user traffic. It can lower campaign performance and provide little to no insights on messaging effectiveness.

Hence, with performance testing, retailers can make sure that their growth vision does not end up standing in the way of their success!

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