Table of Contents
- What is considered e-commerce?
- The development of e-commerce
- E-commerce CMS platforms
- What is e-commerce testing?
- How do you test an e-commerce product
- Challenges of e-commerce testing
What is considered e-commerce?
To put it simply, e-commerce is the notion of purchasing and selling products and services online; developing your own online store or setting one up using Instagram or Telegram.
But the people who have the ability to look a bit deeper will tell you that e-commerce isn’t limited to buying and selling things online. It’s also the sum and relationship of all the constantly changing (ultraflexible) business processes that include every stage of fulfilling an order, from its creation to delivery.
Those that can see e-commerce for the quickly growing business niche it is today will say that e-commerce is the future that’s been ten years in the making. Starting with the development of the first primitive online shops to acquiring local coverage, it will continue to develop further, becoming a global process of interaction between a common user and the enterprise – the production line.
To me, e-commerce is an ecosystem with a large array of different functions and opportunities that’s built into our dynamically developing world. It’s a system that grows and expands alongside the blazing fast evolution of technology. The final goal of its development is the complete automation of orders and fulfilment of human needs, where humans are either completely uninvolved or only act as a controlling organ.
The growth of the e-commerce market
According to Statista, the retail sales of e-commerce worldwide will keep growing extensively up until 2025. The simple reason for that is the fact that modern day customers make purchases using both traditional web applications and native mobile apps.
The development of e-commerce
The e-commerce industry has seen some great advancements in recent years, in large part thanks to the development of various software technologies. Let’s look at the three most prominent examples.
Progressive Web Applications (PWA) for e-commerce
The development of technologies bears mentioning as well. The Progressive Web Application (PWA) technology has marked a big leap for e-commerce, since it removed the need for business owners to develop a separate iOS and Android application and, by extension, to spend money on publishing apps on the App Store and Google Play.
The two main advantages of PWA in e-commerce are:
- The ability to create an icon similar to one that a classic mobile app would have. Clicking it will still take the user to the web version of the app, as if they were accessing it through their browser.
- The ability to send Push notifications to users. This will keep them updated on all the sales, promotions, and business activities, closing the distance between the brand and its customers to the point that’s impossible to achieve with a regular browser.
We will gladly help you develop an application like that.
Enhanced delivery chains
Delivery chains and logistics have seen great development in e-commerce. When an order is made, a signal is sent to an integrated delivery system. That system depends on the preferences and legal agreements of the business owner, as well as on the geography covered by the delivery service.
Then the signal can be sent to a warehouse, where it will be processed by an automated warehouse management system, after which it will be sent to the customer. This is a very surface-level description, but it is enough to demonstrate how many automated processes can be set in motion by the user pressing the “buy” button.
E-commerce and IoT
Don’t forget the intense growth the Internet of Things has been experiencing recently. Many modern houses have a smart speaker that can create and send a product list to the nearest store upon the user’s vocalised request.
Further development of this field will lead to the creation of a 100% automated system, where the smart house will be fully responsible for ordering and delivering food, hiring cleaning services or repair workers. And yes, this is still that e-commerce we’ve been talking about for the past couple of minutes.
E-commerce CMS platforms
CMS (Content Management System) is a website filling system. Picture a storefront display with a lot of shelves – CMS is those shelves. You can increase the size of the shelf, select a theme for it, and change the way it looks. You can set up how the products will be displayed and in what quantities. You can create conditions under which a product will leave the shelf and the storefront, as well as decide what to show a potential customer in case there are no products left on the display. And CMS aren’t just applicable to storefronts, they can also be used for blogs, closed business systems, and many other things.
The functionality of a CMS surpasses that of a website constructor. There are many ad banners and links to website builders on the Internet, and all of them claim that they can help you create a fully-functional online store, even if you have zero software development experience.
But is that really true? – Yes! Certainly. It’s a great solution if your business or e-commerce startup is aimed at providing one kind of product or service with a region of operation that is roughly the size of a small town. But if you have no development experience and are launching an international high-grade e-commerce project or a startup integrated with systems like Inventory Management, Product Information Management, E-commerce Warehouse Management, etc., then you will need a team of professionals to handle it. They will not only develop the project from scratch, but also test it to ensure the end result is of the highest quality; that way future customers will keep returning to your store for years to come.
Compare your idea to our recent projects. If you see anything similar in theme or scale, don’t hesitate to contact us!
Now let’s look at the main CMS in e-commerce before we discuss why testing is especially important for e-commerce projects. Based on this pie chart, the leaders are Magento, WooCommerce, and Shopify.
The absolute leader on the market is Magento. Magento has two versions: Magento Open Source and Magento Enterprise.
Magento Open Source has a primitive – or, better say, minimal – set of out-of-the-box functions, which can be massively expanded with a large number of custom modules from different developers.
At the same time Magento Enterprise offers a full spectrum of features, with all necessary and not-so-necessary functions available from the get go. The price of Magento Enterprise is quite high, especially when compared to the free Magento Open Source. However, extra Magento Open Source modules can also cost you serious money.
So, when it comes to the efficiency of Magento-based projects, we can conclude the following: if the project is built on Magento Enterprise, it will be more stable and high-quality from the start. A project made on Magento Open Source will be more profitable for the client (due to its lower price), but will likely encounter a lot of quality problems because of having an array of different custom modules.
These third-party modules may have internal bugs and conflict with certain Magento versions. Moreover, there is a high probability of these integrated modules coming into conflict with each other, if they come from different manufacturers. This will very likely happen with websites that haven’t been migrated to Magento 2.
To understand WooCommerce, you first need to understand WordPress. WordPress is a worldwide CMS that is especially popular among bloggers, writers, and the creators of static low-load websites. This CMS operates based on templates and plugins. Not unlike Magento, it lets users integrate a lot of varied functions that can help one’s website shine in the endless Internet expanse.
Among the above mentioned plugins, WooCommerce stands as the e-commerce flagship. It allows users to create an Internet store structure, complete with all the necessary functionality.
In terms of testing, online stores and projects built on WooCommerce have a very significant flaw: load handling. WordPress isn’t designed to deal with high loads, so projects built on it will neither have a worldwide, multiplatform, and multifunctional reach, nor have a lot of APIs connected to delivery services, exchange rates, and bonus cards.
Shopify is also one of the leading e-commerce CMS. Essentially, it’s a more complex website constructor similar to Magento and WooCommerce, though it does have its fair share of differences.
Firstly, it was meant to be a purely e-commerce platform from the very start. This means that it won’t have any blockers or problems when you try to integrate your store with various third-party services. There also shouldn’t be a problem if the website has a lot of concurrent users.
Secondly, Shopify is very affordable if you’re a business owner, and especially if you are a startup, which needs to carefully manage every penny. When any blocker can affect the development of the project, having a low price is a significant advantage.
Of course, Shopify development has its disadvantages. A casual user will most likely be unable to create fully-functional service integrations or customise the store’s frontend due to a higher-than-average level of complexity.
When we develop with Shopify, we harness our own experience and established principles of working with the platform.
Shopify’s multilanguage and multicurrency functionality deserves special attention, as it always presents a particular challenge during the process of quality assurance. In a way, it tests the ability of the QA specialist working on it.
What is e-commerce testing?
e-Commerce testing refers to testing the different elements of an e-commerce website or mobile app. This includes checking if its functionality, design, integrations, and miscellaneous features work correctly, as well as ensuring decent load handling, security, and general good performance.
This is rarely a one-and-done process – proper e-commerce testing is done continuously and is mandatory before the release of each new iteration. A well-tested (that is, an easy-to-use, fast, and reliable) website will increase conversions and ensure customer loyalty.
How do you test an e-commerce product
Anyone who wants to make an online store can do e-commerce testing either on their own or with the help of a development team. If you choose to refer to an experienced company, project development will include both creating and testing the application. Testing specialists won’t just be checking if the buttons work or not, they will also conduct tests on the following aspects:
- Load limits;
- Database stability;
- Correct data processing in the backend (read more about it here);
- Third-party services integration;
- Internalisation and localisation of the project.
But technically speaking, anyone who has made their own e-commerce project or startup can test and evaluate its surface-level quality by using the following simple checklist.
How to test an e-commerce website
Here’s a basic testing checklist you can use for your e-commerce website. It will help you ensure its surface-level quality and highlight the parts that need improvement.
E-commerce testing tools
E-commerce testing is mainly powered by the QA engineers’ experience and, of course, specialised tools. These can be paid or freeware, and the latter can be just as useful as the former in determining the quality of an online store, for example. Let’s take a look at a couple of them.
PageSpeed Insights is a tool that ascertains the page’s productivity on mobile and desktop and offers ways to improve it.
A PSI page contains both artificial and field data. Artificial data is useful for fixing performance errors, since it’s gathered in a controlled environment. But it won’t always account for some real-world bottlenecks. That’s why field data is irreplaceable when gathering true, actual user experiences. Though, it comes at the cost of having a more limited number of indicators.
Selenium is a set of products that covers projects with a broad variety of tests, most of which have to do with automation. What makes it stand out among other tools is that the program set is open source. They’re also convenient to use and easy to adapt to the object that’s being tested.
Jmeter is a program for automated load testing. We’ve talked about it in more detail here – check it out, it really is interesting.
Challenges of e-commerce testing
There are a number of industry-specific challenges you should be prepared for when delving into e-commerce testing.
Availability of integrations
A lot of e-commerce applications are built using CMS or such platforms as Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento. These heavily rely on third-party integrations to calculate taxes, handle deliveries, manage payments, support gift cards, and hold all kinds of promotions.
It’s not just that these integrations must be tested thoroughly. Everything can work perfectly at the time of the app’s release, but as your solution receives gradual updates (or as the integrated third-party software rolls out new versions), new compatibility and performance issues may arise. If that does happen, the team will need to rework the integration or switch to a different service completely, so integration testing requires special attention in e-commerce.
Today, more people than ever before use their handheld devices to buy goods online. Because of that, e-commerce websites need to be built with mobile systems in mind, which often means developing a special iOS and Android app.
As a result, the QA team will need to consider a massive number of possible hardware and OS combinations when testing – and that’s on top of testing the desktop and mobile versions of the web app. There is a selection of cloud-based test automation tools that can be harnessed for parallel testing on a range of browser and desktop combinations. But naturally, this development still lengthens and complicates the testing process.
For one, automation tests must be designed in a way that prevents UI changes from affecting the testing logic, which is not always an easy task. Here, POM (Page Object Model) will be of great help, as its test logic and the search for web locators are loosely coupled.
And generally speaking, cross-browser tests must prioritise the most popular devices and platforms, which requires additional market research. Selenium and Cypress are great tools for streamlining the testing process, and, of course, there’s always the option to hire e-commerce specialists to make it more thorough.
Changes in the catalogue
Online stores tend to expand their catalogue either horizontally or vertically. Regardless of the way your e-commerce software scales, the process of testing it will become more complex as the online shopping application grows.
Firstly, since the store will present more options for its customers, the website’s traffic is likely to spike. This will increase the need for regular load and performance testing, so that the store keeps operating at a stable and fast level with large numbers of simultaneous users. And be ready for these spikes being especially huge during Holiday seasons.
There are many different practices and approaches out there, but e-commerce is often singled out because it combines two very important functional nodes: “Payment – Order” to “Order – Delivery”. Even the smallest deviation in the factual result of the node’s operation can bring about disastrous consequences, such as one of the sides losing money or the loss of delivery.
You must assess the risks extremely carefully if you wish to develop an e-commerce project by yourself, as the spectrum of elements that require testing will be far broader than those provided in a typical surface-level checklist. But it will result in a genuinely high-quality, reliable, and competitive product.
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