How to test an eCommerce website
Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - August 23, 2021
Driven by the pandemic and continually high digital adoption rates, people are shopping online more often than ever before. That means that any eCommerce website existing in the market will face stiff competition and needs to bring its A-game to stand a chance at success.
Once a website is developed, it needs to be tested to ensure the best possible user experience. 58% of customers abandon a company because of poor customer experience. eCommerce websites represent the company backing it, and these days, they substitute brick-and-mortar stores. A well-built and thoroughly tested site is likely to garner high user engagement and lead to better traffic and revenue generation.
This article will discuss how to test eCommerce websites comprehensively so as to cover essential features and ensure that the site does not fail to meet customer expectations.
What to test on eCommerce websites
To create practical test cases for eCommerce websites, one must understand the structure of a typical site. The following are the main pages and features to be tested:
- Home Page/Customer Login
- Search and Navigation
- Catalog of products and services
- Order processing mechanism
- Payment Function\User Data, especially private information
- Home Page: Test that the right text and images show up, whether static or dynamic. Links to important pages (catalog, account login, cart) should also be visible and functional.
- Search and Navigation: Users should be able to search for relevant terms and be directed to the exact page they are looking for. They should also be able to navigate to important sections (product categories, cart, account info, etc.) with a couple of clicks. Test to check for any bugs that may prevent a frictionless experience in this regard.
- Catalog of products and services: All products and services should be listed clearly, with adequate descriptions and explanatory images. Images should be easy to magnify, and the Add To Cart option should be upfront and seamlessly responsive.
- Order processing mechanism: Once orders are placed, products and their details must match what the user selected. They should be able to choose a preferred shipping method, and their addresses should be correctly mapped to the order. Additionally, return and exchange policies should be accessible for reading before placing an order.
- Payment Function/User Data: At this point, a number of variables need to be tested:
- The privacy, security, and accuracy of customer data. This is where security testing comes in.
- Required validations: First and last name, card number, CSV, OTP, etc.
- Currency conversion (if the purchase is made in a foreign currency, does it convert correctly to local currency?)
- Can payment be canceled within a specific time frame?
- Can customers pay in installments?
- Generation of order confirmation and receipt
- Is the site flawlessly and securely integrated with an external payment system? Does the system work every time? What happens to the money if it is debited but the payment fails?
Since payment is one of the most sensitive aspects of any eCommerce site (it involves actual money), QAs must take special care to build test cases for online shopping carts to check their operability under different circumstances (weak network, changing locations, etc.)
Types of tests to run on eCommerce websites
Several different tests must be run to ensure that the eCommerce website facilitates a hassle-free shopping experience – something to keep them coming back.
- Functional Testing
Functional Testing checks if the website works in accordance with pre-determined requirements. It answers the question: “Is everything working as it is supposed to?”
This encompasses everything from basic link functionality to whether data fields accept correct variables to if the right pop-ups are triggered at the right time. Functional tests comprise a variety of sub-categories: unit tests, smoke tests, sanity tests, regression tests, integration tests, usability tests, and more.
Since eCommerce websites have a host of functions as part of a user journey, functional testing is mandatory to ensure every one of them works as expected. However, given the number of links and fields any modern-day website carries, running functional tests will be tedious, time-consuming, and prone to errors.
Automation testing is the perfect alternative in this situation. Tools like Selenium, Appium allows testers to create and execute automated functional tests on websites so as to verify site efficacy without having to put in endless man-hours and resources.
BrowserStack’s cloud Selenium grid allows QAs to run automated tests on 2000+ real browsers and devices. Testers can check how their sites behave in real-time and in real user conditions. They can even build test cases for eCommerce websites with dynamic web elements (promotions, coupons, updated product lists) to avoid unpleasant surprises when navigating the site.
- Accessibility Testing
Accessibility tests ensure that a website (or app) is accessible to as many people as possible. In particular, it seeks to optimize software so that it can be accessed by individuals with disabilities – impaired vision or hearing, reading problems, physical or cognitive issues.
Not only does accessibility testing expand the potential user pool of an eCommerce website, but it also helps the site align with certain regulations such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Section 508, Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Depending on the country, these may just be guidelines and recommendations, or they may be legal requirements.
QAs execute accessibility tests to check if a site works well with assistive technologies – speech recognition software, screen readers, screen magnification tech, keyboards for individuals with motor function disorders, etc.
BrowserStack allows testers to run accessibility tests on real browsers and devices via BrowserStack Automate and axe library. Axe is a fast-acting and lightweight tool that verifies entire documents against predetermined accessibility rules. It generated reports detailing violations, which testers can quickly analyze and resolve.
- Performance Testing
Performance testing evaluates how a certain software performs under different conditions. Performance, in this case, refers to multiple variables: stability, scalability, speed, responsiveness – all under variant levels of traffic and load.
Performance testing is necessary to ensure that software operates at expected quality levels at all times. It checks parameters such as application output, data transfer speed, data processing speed, network bandwidth use, load-bearing capacity, memory consumption, command response times, etc.
Learn More: Performance Testing: A Detailed Guide
BrowserStack’s real device cloud provides a comprehensive set of tools to execute performance tests. In the real world, traffic comes from a multitude of devices (mobile and desktop), browsers, and operating systems. Performance tests must account for this variety. With a platform like BrowserStack, this is easy to accomplish.
- Cross Browser Compatibility Testing
Expect every eCommerce website to be accessed from multiple browsers and multiple versions of each browser. The website will have to render perfectly on each browser and browser version, considering their various technical variances and idiosyncrasies.
The only way to ensure this is to perform comprehensive cross browser testing across real browsers and devices. Testers need to check how the website renders and operates in real user conditions, for which they need to test on multiple unique browser-device-OS combinations. Given that there are at least 63,000 possible browser-platform-device combinations in popular usage, QA teams need access to a massive on-premise device lab (constantly updated with newer devices) to perform satisfactory cross browser compatibility testing.
Not every organization has the finances or the human resources to set up and maintain such a lab, and they don’t have to. They can use BrowserStack’s cloud-based infrastructure hosting of 2000+ real browsers and devices. Be it manual testing or automated Selenium testing, testers can utilize BrowserStack to get 100% accurate results in real-world circumstances. Testers can also leverage Cypress testing on 30+ real browser versions.
Cross-browser testing is a non-negotiable aspect of any eCommerce test. If an eCommerce site does not render perfectly on all major browsers, it will alienate users, leading to loss of traffic and potential revenue.
- Website Speed Test
A report from kissmetrics states that a 1-second delay page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversion rate. Google also considers site speed as a factor when it comes to ranking search results.
Naturally, eCommerce websites must load as fast as possible, on every device-browser combination they are accessed from. A free tool like BrowserStack SpeedLab is perfect for running a website speed test on multiple real browser-device combinations. Simply enter the URL, and the tool will check site speed across a range of widely used device-browser combinations.
Read More: How to check website loading time
- Mobile Website Compatibility Test
As of April 2021, 56.16 percent of all web traffic emerges from mobile phones. Naturally, eCommerce sites must be developed and optimized to work perfectly on mobile devices. As mentioned before, device and browser fragmentation is a serious and consistent obstacle for software developers. In particular, with thousands of devices with different screen sizes and resolutions being used worldwide, the site may not render accurately on some screens.To prevent this, web developers implement responsive design, and they must check the efficacy of said responsive design on different real devices. To do so, testers must once again resort to real devices. They can use BrowserStack’s free responsive design checker to check on popular devices like iPhone X, Galaxy Note 10, iPhone 8 Plus, Galaxy S9 Plus, and more. For access to a broader range of real devices (Apple, Samsung, Motorola, and many more), testers can sign up for free and choose from thousands of real devices to check their website’s appearance.Read More: How to ensure mobile website compatibility
When building test scenarios for eCommerce websites, take the above categories into account. Of course, depending on the nature of the suite, more types of tests may be required. However, the tests described above must necessarily form a part of any QA blueprint pertaining to an eCommerce site. Use this article as the foundation from which to start shaping the expanding test cycles required for optimized eCommerce site performance.