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 eCommerce website test cases, one must understand the structure of a typical site. The following are the website sections and features to be tested:
- Home Page: Test that the correct 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. Let’s take the example of the Amazon India website.
- 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
- 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 3000+ 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.
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 3000+ 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.
Common Bugs in eCommerce Website Testing
- Absent Product Data
Since eCommerce sites primarily display multiple products and their details, it is common for some details to go missing. It is the most common error, and usually involves missing data about one or more items for sale – color, size, images, specifics, titles, etc. It could also be anomalies such as products not showing up on the site search, or not being added to cart even after clicking the button.
This is a significant issue because it prevents users from viewing and possibly ordering a product, thus reducing revenue for the site and the company hosting the product.
The best way to prevent this is to have a checklist of products and detail to match when uploading products onto the site.
- Redirect Error
Missing redirects are a massive issue for eCommerce sites, especially when pages are being migrated from one URL to another. It can have a deeply negative impact on organic search rankings, paid search results, and user experience.
It is easier to detect such errors in the key pages but easy to miss them in secondary pages. The best way to fix this is to work with a dedicated team or an SEO agency that will map out and set up all redirects and pages in appropriate categories.
- Poor images without the zoom function
Despite the popularity of online shopping, there are still enough individuals who are skeptical about buying online, mainly because they cannot touch and see the product in real-time. Good images do a lot to assuage this apprehension.
Images should not just be high quality, but should also show the product from different angles. It should be able to handle zooming in to focus on smaller lettering or closer view of features.
Invest in professional photos of your photos before uploading them to an eCommerce site. It will cost more but will help with convincing potential customers to examine and buy what you are selling.
- Low page load speed
53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. A 2-second delay in load time resulted in abandonment rates of up to 87%. A quickly loading website is essential to positive user experience and high revenue generation. Not only that, Google ranks fast-loading pages higher. That means pages optimized for loading quickly on desktop and mobile devices, as well as on different browsers.
Ensure high page load speed by testing eCommerce sites on BrowserStack SpeedLab. Check how fast your site loads on different browser-device-OS combinations so that you know exactly what users are getting in terms of speed when accessing your site.Read More: How to speed up WordPress site
- Malfunctioning payment function
This bug would have the most serious consequences, and therefore, need the most attention to ensure that it does not occur. If payment methods do not work accurately, they can put customer funds in jeopardy.
Be merciless about executing data security with regard to customers’ payment details, without requiring customers to go through too many steps to complete payment.
Additionally, if the core payment mechanism depends on only a few portals (PayPal, Net banking, Apple Pay, Google), it may exclude customers using other methods. Try to include as many as your portal can accommodate.
Challenges of eCommerce Testing
- Often, eCommerce websites use content management systems like Shopify, Woocommerce to build the site in the shortest possible time. However, these platforms offer integration with third-party services for various purposes – gift cards, social media features, online payment management, etc. However, too many third-party integrations increase testing effort, as each of them needs to seamlessly and securely communicate and interact with the site.
- With new devices and browser versions coming into existence as fast as you can blink, eCommerce website testing must keep up. However, it isn’t an easy task to identify every new device-browser-OS combination, procure them, run tests, and undertake optimizations to make the site compatible with the new kids on the block.
- eCommerce sites offer a large number of functions for uses to leverage. Isolating every single function and user scenario for testing can be quite difficult, at least in the initial rounds of testing.
- Given that eCommerce sites tend to store the financial information of an extensive userbase, they are heavily targeted by hackers. Keeping this information safe from repeated attacks requires significant effort, skill, and know-how.
Best Practices for eCommerce Testing
- Use real browsers and devices to test on: More than half of all internet traffic shopping emerges from a mobile device, which means the site must be optimized to work perfectly on popular mobile devices. As mentioned before, BrowserStack offers 3000+ real browsers and devices for testing. Simply sign up, choose the device-browser-OS combination and start testing to ensure compatibility.
- Run A/B tests to find out which version of the site appeals most to users. It’s possible that more users like a site displaying its best-selling items rather than good reviews. Try out various features and visuals to find which works best.
- Don’t cut out manual tests. eCommerce sites are entirely user-facing, which means human perception is of utmost importance. Automation alone cannot comment on whether a site is easy to use or impressive to view. You’ll need to run manual test cases for eCommerce websites to function and render at optimal levels.
- Focus on usability and performance tests in particular. Remember, users have a million choices when it comes to digital shopping avenues. Your testing efforts should cover a significant number of user scenarios to ensure that people don’t have to deal with easily bugs, errors, and inconveniences.
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.