The e-commerce/m-commerce companies, small-medium-large are juggling with tricks to make their presence felt amongst the potential buyers. With greater opportunities and possibilities, retailers in the segment are facing tremendous challenges. One of the key challenges is to provide a compelling and secure interface to the online shoppers. This further reinforces the significance of performance testing for e-commerce sites, particularly before peak holiday season.
Deloitte in its mid-year update made predictions on the six key top trends which are transforming the retail sector in 2016 – Subscription model, delivery, personal commerce, social influence, reinvented TV shopping, internal re-organization.
While competing in this high-octane space, getting the Digital commerce platform ready for the Big Bang shopping season is at the core of every retailer’s business agenda.
Whether it is a brick and mortar store or an ecommerce site, online presence marks the essence of every business strategy today. Checking website performance, load time, application’s performance testing, application load test, and a lot more is rapidly becoming inevitable for commercial success. All these factors play a crucial role especially during high pressure festive seasons, when every small or big portal is trying to grab maximum profits from the market.
A recent news report shared another interesting story in the ever-enticing retail sector. Tesco customer Kate Shepard, a bar owner from Durham was shocked when she discovered that a jar of marmalade she had ordered online had been defaced manually.
The 38 year old later tweeted, “So I had my @Tesco shopping delivered and someone has written on my marmalade, Tesco staff must have a lot of time on their hands!” She further tweet a picture of the Mackays Seville Organge Marmalade, which was scribbled over to read ‘Jimmy Saville’.
E-commerce is definitely tantalizing the shopping tastes of customers, but at the same time, customers are gearing up with new-age defences of Social Media. This is increasingly giving nightmares to ecommerce companies, making them more market-ready.
What could Tesco do in this case? It apologized and offered a full refund with a voucher. This reinforces the earlier point that whether online or offline, performance testing and gearing up for a busy season is not optional, but a business mandate.
External testing in the production infrastructure is the best possible way to gauge the capacity and performance in the real environment. It will further ensure that online apps are giving the required reflexes and performing as expected. Moreover, with brands working towards offering Omni-channel user experience, getting your 360 degree campaign to operate seamlessly is exceptionally critical.
How can brands/retailers build for themselves the confidence to offer seamless and compelling shopping experience and at the same time not succumb to traffic spikes, thanks to the festive upswings, events, or promotions?
There are instances where brands bite off more than they can chew.
In October 2014, Filpkart, India based e-commerce giant, apologized for the glitches on the Big Billion Day Sale. The site faced a heavy rush, resulting in cancellation of orders, delayed delivery, and much more. This resulted in a huge PR dismay for the brand.
Is a comprehensive Performance Test strategy the solution? What is that sought after checklist that can ensure success for Digital Commerce?
- Know your online customer behavior
From a sheer business perspective, it is important to understand how users operate across the e-commerce site, gauging the peak and fall of activity.
- Key business processes/flows considered by site visitors
- Average time of a user on the site
- User interaction – Shopping Vs. Browsing
- From where do they bounce/abandon the process
- Average view per minute/hour
- Average orders placed per minute/hour
- Assess the overall traffic patterns, especially against peak shopping events/promotions
- Flow of traffic from Mobile devices and its impact on the above-mentioned factor
- Understanding the complexities
While preparing the test strategy for ecommerce sites, it is important to understand the depth of the site and measure the complexities. Ecommerce sites are tremendously complex and geared with various layers of interactions. To ensure seamless performance, it is important to understand various levels of interactions and components. The common areas to focus on while testing are:
- Application glitches: It is important to watch out for inefficient code, syncing issues, memory leaks, and app dead locks.
- Database Performance: Being at the core of performance, it is crucial to look out for locking and contention, missing indexes, inefficient queries, managing the memory, and scattered growth of data.
- Configurations: Assuming that the default settings are barely ideal, it is critical to check for variations between environments and optimize the tuning as per the devices in the architecture.
- Load handling: With an objective to effectively use hardware, it is necessary to look for algorithms that are not optimized with unused features and capabilities.
- Determining Connectivity issues: Since communication plays a crucial role and connectivity issues are immense, it is much important to ensure that systems can communicate with minimum bandwidth, the firewall has enough capacity, and the system is ready for varying mobile networks.
- Bandwidth capacity: Loading the site with rich content for enhanced user experience means that you are inviting bandwidth troubles. Ensure that your site is able to perform and application load test is done with minimal bandwidth and supports varying connection types/speeds even across mobile devices.
- Compatible Architecture: While designing, the ecommerce site architecture needs to be cautious about unbalanced tiers, technology choices, or scalability issues. At the same time ensure that analytics tracking, payment gateways, accumulated content, or social channels are not affecting the performance of the site leading to any disruptions.
- Performance testing tools
Performance testing helps determine the speed and effectiveness of a system, an application, a software, a device. It involves quantitative tests executed in a lab environment/virtualized environment to measure the response time or the MIPS (Millions of instructions per second) at which the application will function. Additionally, implement the appropriate tools as per the requirements. There are various Performance testing tools available to execute effective performance tests, to name a few:
- WebLoad helps you perform load and stress tests on any internet application by using Ajax, Adobe Flex, .NET, Oracle Forms, HTML5 and quite a few technologies. The tool supports performance testing for applications with heavy user load and complex structures, further assessing the functionality and performance of the web application.
- LoadComplete, an easy and cost-effective performance testing tool, enables the tester to create and execute accurate load tests for websites and applications. It further automates the load tests by recording user interactions, which are further simulated with hundreds of virtual users either locally or over the Cloud.
- HP LoadRunner, a HP product helps understand and determine the performance and response of the system when under load. The most compelling feature of this tool is that it can create and manage multiple users at a time.
- Rational Performance Tester, an IBM product, is an automated performance testing tool used to test web applications or server-based applications, where input and output is involved. The tool helps create a demo of the transactions between users and web apps. The statistical information derived towards the end helps analyze and increase the apps efficiency.
- NeoLoad, a tool by Neotys is used to measure and analyze the performance of websites, where the outcome can be assessed for planning further steps. The tool further helps improve and optimize the Web application’s performance under loaded traffic.
- Loadster, a desktop-based (web browser based) advanced HTTP load testing tool, is easy to use and record the scripts. With the Graphical User Interface (GUI) you can alter and customize the basic script and variables to verify the response. It enables to emulate large virtual user base to stress test the applications, and further helps generate HTML reports for analysis and detecting performance bottlenecks within the application.
- CloudTest, a performance testing tool by SOASTA is used for testing websites, mobile apps, APIs, etc. It enables users to use Cloud platform as a virtual testing lab, where multiple developers/users can carry out their performance or load tests on the Cloud cost effectively with the tool.
While the tools make your life easy and build your ecommerce application for a larger audience during the Big Day sales, it is equally important to have the right team with necessary skills to implement a comprehensive Performance testing strategy for the ecommerce site.
Gallop has been extensively working with some leading and innovative enterprises to strategize Performance testing for their business-critical applications. Gallop’s Performance Engineering & Testing teams provide new-age solutions and services to global clients. Our expertise spans across a wide range of applications comprising, client-server, web, distributed, mobile, cloud databases, high volume transaction systems, and highly complex applications.
Gallop’s Performance Center of Excellence (PCoE) provides end-to-end performance testing solutions to help our clients launch future proof applications with high responsiveness, availability, and scalability. Moreover, we have partnered with various Performance Testing tool vendors and enable our clients to choose the right tool based on their requirement and budget. Connect with our experts to get your E-commerce site/Web App/Mobile site ready for the Next-Gen marketplace!