Beginners Guide for Testing in E-Commerce

E-commerce experienced a considerable growth spurt as a result of the Corona pandemic. Many small, specialized stores were created as a result. The resources for operating such stores are often limited, and quality assurance is often neglected. This guide shows how to achieve high quality in e-commerce with minimal resources.

But why should a small store operator even bother with topics like software testing? Let’s do a little calculation. Let’s assume we sell colourful umbrellas in our store for 20€ each. On average, we sell 50 per day. That makes a daily turnover of 1000€.

Now the following happens: It’s Friday and we go on vacation for the weekend – to relax a bit for once. On Monday at work, we realize that we only made €200 in sales over the weekend. So €1800 less than expected. But what happened? On closer inspection, it turns out that an automatic update to our store system is causing errors for Chrome users, preventing them from completing payments. (By the way, this scenario is not made up, but happens more often than you might think). 

Test automation is very expensive, so the question is how even small store owners can automate efficiently. The following shall provide a good start:

  1. Get to know your users

Sounds logical, of course, but in practice not so easy, especially for smaller stores. The simplest tool for this is Google Analytics. The most important information for us testers is the device and browser used. In principle, automation is sufficient for the system that is used by 60-80% of users. In the following example, this would be the desktop browser Chrome. Of course, it would be even better to ensure a higher test coverage, but this also increases the costs.

Browser overview in Google analytics

  1. Identify the most important click paths

This step is the most difficult for the beginning because a lot of data is needed. A click path basically describes the path a user takes to perform a specific action, such as adding a product to the shopping cart. 

To be very efficient, you should only test the most used click paths. In doing so, you have to figure out which click paths are the most important ones first. However, these differ from application to application. In the long run, tools like Hotjar can help here to get to know the most used click paths. In e-commerce, these always include Login, Shopping Cart and Checkout.

If no data on the use of click paths are available, one should start with these three.

  1. Automation

The last step is the final automation of these click paths for the most commonly used browsers and devices. For web browsers, Selenium or Cypress is a good choice. If you want to automate for mobile instead, Appium is a good place to start. These tools require some programming knowledge but are easy to learn for testers with a technical background. If you don’t want to do the automation yourself, you can also always look for help on Fiverr or other freelance platforms. As you only need to automate a small percentage of your shop, it will be worth every penny (and also not too expensive).

With these steps, it is very easy and inexpensive to set up efficient test automation for e-commerce. Of course, this should be further expanded as the store grows, but this sets up healthy first test automation for every online shop.


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