Why the retail industry needs test automation more than ever 

Retail giants turn digital instead of the conventional approaches due to the exponential growth of online shopping, changing customer behavior, and the volume of available data. This digitization has helped redefine how technology and applications for the retail industry are developed, supported, and deployed.

A change from conventional approaches that involved physically locating new stores, stocking shelves, analyzing demographics, sales data, etc., means that most of the shopping experience is virtualized. The catalyst for growth and sustainability in the digital era is quality software. And, for quality software, testing is vital. A virtual retail experience is created with enhanced application complexity, various platforms and devices, omnichannel software, and continually changing customer expectations.

To ensure a smooth, seamless shopping experience for the online customer, it is necessary that front and back-end functionalities of the e-commerce application and the Point of Sale (POS) system is properly working in sync with other functions. Retail POS testing is of prime importance for the enterprise.

With increased reliance on digital solutions, even a minor technical glitch can derail the entire business value chain. Therefore, only the best validation approach will avoid risks coming from data breaches and security. However, certain challenges need to be met.

Meeting quality challenges with automation testing

Business processes in the retail industry run the gamut from order management and fulfillment, pricing, inventory management, and customer account history. The retail landscape is dynamic, and applications used in business processes are frequently updated and released. There is a need to deliver fit-for-purpose solutions with agility and speed.

Improved speed at lower costs

Efficient solutions require frequent repetition of tests during the development cycle and across all related hardware configurations and operating systems. Manual duplication of tests can be time-consuming and prone to errors. Test automation can replace manual testing and reduce time. It can also provide shorter delivery cycles. The advantage of automation testing is that the tests can be repeated without incurring additional costs.

Omni-channel deployment

Today’s shopper expects to shop anytime and from anywhere from any device. Customers also expect a seamless shopping experience across all touchpoints. Ensuring that online shopping doesn’t run into glitches frustrating the customer can be a challenge, so test automation is critical in managing the test volumes at high speed across different interconnected systems.  Test automation can also enhance the scope and depth of test scripts and execute any number of complex test cases during each test run while validating different business scenarios.

Integration challenges

A digital retail ecosystem relies on integration between different components, both internal and with third-party applications, integration of systems, services, devices, and applications across the physical and digital spaces. Moreover, POS devices must also be integrated with other software systems such as inventory, warehouse, supply chain, merchandising, and more, along with in-store devices such as terminals, kiosks, screens, and sensors.  Retail POS testing is important as glitches in that can derail the entire shopping experience for the customer.

Automation testing helps conceive and validate the workflow routings, isolate key issues, and deliver actionable inputs.

Increased user expectations

Studies show that over 75% of shoppers unhappy with the site never return; over 40% leave sites that are slow to upload, and a similar percentage share their bad experience with others. The only differentiator is a positive user experience. Personalized search and discovery of items, real-life-like touch, and feel experience are key functionalities that will keep the customer on the site and keep coming back to it.

Consistent user and brand experience seamlessly across different channels can play a big role in keeping the customer engaged. Therefore, every software version must be compatible across different browsers, devices, and operating systems, and a robust testing framework can ensure that the user experience and functionality work as expected.

Security

With digital transformation, data integrity and security have become areas of concern. POS applications, mobile payment solutions, wireless technology, and credit card-enabled apps make the system vulnerable to cyber threats. Rigorous security testing is imperative and must focus on application profiling, authentication, encryption algorithms, and data validation. A thorough security testing framework with automation tools can help in dynamic application security testing, and this requires a robust test automation strategy.

Importance of test automation strategy in retail 

The retail industry needs a robust automation strategy to keep pace with innovation and handle risks from inconsistent scenarios. While a lot of the testing processes can be automated, not all need to be automated. So, a phased approach is ideal. The factors to consider include:

Feasibility study

The first step is to identify and document the business requirements that need to be automated. An automation feasibility study involves:

Understanding the functional flow

An understanding of the functional flow of the application must cover aspects of the technical architecture and communication protocols across the automation testing team. The testers can then distribute the test cases based on the functionality and applicability of automation tools and adapters.

Automation coverage

Evaluating the business requirements and which of the retail workflows need to be automated will be a helpful guide to reach the percentage of the automation coverage. Thus, a quantitative evaluation of automation tools and comparison study based on application compatibility can be useful. For instance, automation tools may fail to identify specific objects in touchscreen user interfaces. In this case, the automation tool must be able to recognize the objects in the application.

A thorough review of the requirements and purpose of testing is essential. Then comes identifying the appropriate tools and their costs, followed by a comparative analysis of the selected tools before deciding on the most suitable one.

ROI

Financial feasibility can be a key factor in the final decision when considering automation. Factoring in the percentage of automation testing coverage and your investment in automation testing and test automation framework should give you a clear idea of the expected ROI.

Scope of automation

The scope of automation can be easily identified when you see repetitive test cases that need human intervention. Automation testing can go beyond regression testing as it can also cover the user scenarios that work in different languages and verify the translations.

Identifying the right test automation framework

Automation framework is at the core of test automation strategy. It is a set of business processes and validation rules to shape the interaction between the components on which scripts are designed, deployed, and executed. Code changes due to application changes can be frequent in a retail space.

The automation framework must allow a seamless integration into the continuous integration/ continuous deployment (CI/ CD) pipeline to handle these changes. As omnichannel retail becomes the standard, the test automation framework must be scalable and provide cross-platform and scripting language independence.

Conclusion

The digital retail business is highly diverse and complex. Each component in a mature digital ecosystem must deliver the best performance to enhance the continuously evolving customer experience. Therefore, a well-defined test automation strategy that considers the most suitable framework and automation tools are imperative.

DCqaf is a flexible and secure automation testing framework built to empower retailers’ end-to-end retail landscape that includes front-end, back-end of eCommerce applications, and POS systems in one fabric. Powered by AI and ML components, DCqaf aids organizations perform test automation right from the start of the development cycle, adding more power to Agile and DevOps driven retail environments.

DCqaf ensures that the entire testing process in the SDLC is rigorous and perfect to befit every operation. Apart from the default potential test automation tools like Jenkins, TestLink, TestComplete, etc. DCqaf enables the effective integration of the third-party tools to allow customization until the very last part of code for the end-user.

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Krittika Banerjee