Retailers are under pressure to add features that work across multiple devices and platforms. Too often their testing process is designed to determine whether something works, rather than whether it does what the customer expects and wants.

Antony Edwards, chief operating officer, Eggplant

Eighty percent of customers say the digital experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. However, according to Gartner’s Digital Consumer Experience Index, 84% of consumers say their experiences fall short of expectations. Delivering robust digital experiences that delight should be the holy grail for all digital business, especially retail, but clearly, something is falling short.

A big part of this chasm between expectation and reality is that digital businesses depend on the quality of their software and apps—and these frequently do not perform as they should. Retailers face increasing pressure to develop and integrate more software, apps, and functionality across multiple devices and platforms.

Retailers need to shift from focusing solely on the relentless pace of continuous delivery in a DevOps environment to ensuring that their software delights their customers. If retailers want to win the omnichannel war, then they need to rethink how they test and monitor the quality of their software and applications.

The goal is to understand how customer experiences and business outcomes are affected by the behavior of the app or software.

Testing should no longer be viewed as a compliance task but rather as mission-critical to the success of your ecommerce business. However, for the last decade, it has focused on verification, i.e., does it work? Rather than validation, meaning, does it do what my customers expect and want?

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The CX gap

Testing must shift from a verification-driven activity to a continuous quality process. The goal is to understand how customer experiences and business outcomes are affected by the behavior of the app or software. More than this, though, it’s about identifying opportunities for improvements and predicting the business impact of those changes.

Retailers must abandon the outdated approach of only testing that the software works and instead embrace a strategy that evaluates the user perspective and delivers insights to optimize their experiences. You need to be testing the product from the outside in, the way a user does. Only then can you evaluate the customer experience.

For retailers, the goal of testing must be understanding the customer journey and how to influence a behavior to drive a specific action—like a purchase. For example, if analytics tell us that 28% of users are abandoning their basket at step 4, then testing needs to understand why and come up with software updates that will improve the conversion rate.

Smart testing 101

Customer-driven testing is a new approach that focuses on the user experience rather than the specification. It evaluates the functionality, performance, and usability of digital products rather than just the code verification. It relies on the intelligent automation of software testing using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics to test and monitor the digital user experience continuously; it analyzes apps and real data to auto-generate and execute user journeys.

Unlike merely checking if it works when testing to a specification, the actual customer journey drives the testing. Customer-driven testing ensures that user interface errors, bugs, and performance issues are identified and addressed before they have the chance to impact the customer experience and brand perception negatively.

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By adopting intelligent testing, retailers can now release with confidence. As they look to optimize their digital properties, they can use the insights from the smart testing to make bolder, faster decisions regarding additional features and functionality that will positively impact conversion rates.

Retailers for a long time have followed the mantra of optimizing websites for speed. However, with intelligent testing, you can let the data drive the strategy.

Think about a furniture brand; a retailer may determine that displaying multiple high-resolution images of furniture in homes drives up sales despite the images slowing down the speed of the website. It’s these type of correlations and insights that customer-driven testing delivers allowing retailers to assess risk, release quicker and stay ahead of the competition.

Continuous intelligence

Smart testing doesn’t just stop once you have released the latest app or update—it must continue once the software is in use so that you can ensure it continues to meet both customer needs and your business goals. Retailers need to approach testing as a continual process that helps you identify why you are not meeting business metrics and, most critically, how you can fix the issue.

Let’s say your goal for your ecommerce website is to sell $4 million in merchandise per week, but you’re only selling $1 million. How do you benchmark against your competitors, determine why you aren’t meeting your goals, and identify the reasons behind this discrepancy?

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You need to understand if, for example, it’s because millennials are frustrated by the speed of the website when loads are over 3,000 users and quit. Or perhaps it’s an undetected error that is causing a failure? Or is it a basket issue during checkout that is driving the revenue drop?

These are the types of insights with which smart testing can arm retailers, helping them to continually optimize their digital business.

If retailers are to deliver a digital experience that delights customers and has a positive impact on their business, then a new user-centric approach to testing is essential. It’s simply no longer enough to check that it works, you need modern testing strategies to evaluate the CX and help drive conversion rates up.

To put it more simply, smart testing can give you ninja powers in the ecommerce war. Can any retailer afford to ignore this?

Eggplant provides test-automation software.

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