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Six reasons why retailers need test automation to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience

By Mike Wager

Mike Wager

Mike Wager - 8 June 2021

There’s no getting away from it – retail is one industry that feels the impact of digital transformation more than most. As technology’s influence expands, so do consumers’ expectations.  

And with so many mediums involved to deliver a seamless digital customer experience, retailers need an omnichannel testing strategy in place. Those that don’t will fail to stand out in such a crowded marketplace. 

Customers are everywhere 

Consumers expect a superior omnichannel experience across all channels and devices, and to succeed, retailers must deliver against these expectations. 

Pretty obvious, right? 

Then why are so many retailers falling short? Almost 75% of customers want a fully integrated shopping experience, but only 29% say they receive it.  

Anyone? 

The problem is that consumers interact with your products and services across numerous devices and digital platforms. And they don’t necessarily do this in ways you’d expect. 

“But we conduct multi-channel testing,” you insist. 

Only focusing testing on individual channels to ensure your website, for example, functions on a particular device doesn’t cut it anymore. Plus, aren’t you tired of using a large collection of specific tools and scripts to test every different device and platform? 

What you need to do is put the customer, not a channel, at the center of your testing. Retailers must remove barriers between channels and stop treating them as independent silosand create an immersive experience wherever their customers are. 

Now here’s the secret - *looks around so no one can hear* - you need automation firmly implanted into your testing strategy. 

Here’s why.

1. “Normal” user journeys are just the start 

Whenever a user lands on your website or mobile app, there are defined paths they can take. Logging into an account, clicking on a product, adding it to a shopping cart, and then making a purchase is an expected journey called a happy path.  

Testing a happy path uses known inputs and produces expected outputs, and verifies if certain actions meet their functional requirements. Essentially, you’re ensuring that any customer can perform the most simple actions when they arrive on your website or use your mobile application. 

Regular, defined user journeys may seem simple to test, but there can be many. In some cases, a happy path will contain a new feature or updated function, which will have to be tested. Manual testing these user journeys still takes time and can be incredibly arduous and mundane, which may cause missed deadlines or human error to creep into the testing process. 

Test automation speeds this whole process up and removes the chances of errors. And by using a model-based approach to testing, you can validate UI functionality instead of relying on code verification. This ensures that whatever your customers see is tested, so bugs affecting the user experience, no matter the device, can be quickly identified. 

2. Complex user journeys need intelligent testing

If happy paths were the only user journeys that need testing, life for a tester not using automation would be much simpler.  

Unfortunately, the online world isn’t quite like that. With so many links to click, web pages to visit, and actions to take on a website or mobile application, user journeys are anything but linear.  

Although testing your happy paths is essential, you won’t uncover those “What if” moments. What if a user is about to checkout and realizes they forgot an essential item and hits the back button to add it to their cart? Or, what if a user is about to make a payment with an expired credit card and needs to update their payment method? 

If you’re only testing happy paths, you would never highlight these kinds of scenarios. And with so many user paths available, there are bound to be bugs lurking somewhere. What you want to avoid is your customers discovering them before you do. 

These journeys need exploratory testing so all possible user paths support a seamless experience. 

Traditionally, manual testers would have to think of every permutation and then write the scripts to test them one at a time. Not even the best and most efficient manual tester could predict all possible user behaviors, document them, and write the necessary scripts. 

The answer? Use automated exploratory testing driven by AI to dramatically increase test coverage and intelligently auto-generate test cases based on actual user data.  

3. Test any technology 

Very few consumers are the same. Different people have different shopping habits. But one thing that is almost guaranteed is that people own numerous devices. In fact, 98% of Americans switch between them every single day, according to Google. 

This means that retailers need to understand that customers will often begin their journey on one device and then purchase an item on another. And if a user starts placing an order on their mobile app, they expect to see that same order reflected in their cart on their laptop. 

This type of journey is unremarkable for your customers, but it’s complex and hugely time-consuming to get right if you are still manually testing. 

Instead, use a model that can visually replicate these complicated user journeys. This removes the need for a tool to understand the underlying code, meaning you can test any browser, device, and operating system. And by modeling the user journey across various technologies, you can automate any workflow and uncover bugs, ensuring a seamless omnichannel experience. 

4. Testing the entire user journey, from clicks to bricks 

Imagine you are one of your customers for a second. You’ve been keeping an eye on a pair of soccer cleats for a while now, and you have just received an email telling you they are on sale. Perfect timing as your old pair has almost disintegrated, and you’ve got that important match later that evening. 

You take out your smartphone and open the retailer’s app to see if your local store has your size. You’re in luck. You add them to your cart and choose the option to pick them up in-store later that day. 

Your order is confirmed, and you go about your day, waiting to receive the SMS message telling you the boots are ready to collect. 

The message never arrives, but you have a screenshot of the order number from the app and have the order confirmation in your email, so you visit your store. 

When you arrive and show the employee the email and screenshot, they inform you that they never received the order. They check their point of sale (POS), which is linked to their CRM and inventory management system, but still no luck. 

The employee kindly offers to look in the back to try and find the cleats. Five or so minutes pass before they return to tell you they don’t have your size. As you begin to walk out, you call the team captain to say you can’t play. 

You leave the store and vow never to return as you run around the corner to another store.  

Now, you might not buy soccer cleats that often, but we have all been in a similar situation – let down by poorly integrated technology that should support a seamless omnichannel experience. 

In the above example, there were seven touchpoints, including in-store systems: 

  • Email (the customer and retailer)
  • Mobile device 
  • Mobile application
  • SMS
  • POS 
  • CRM
  • Inventory management

Now think about the number of email clients, various mobile devices and operating systems, and different application versions available to your customers. And the other available channels, such as: 

  • Website 
  • Online chat 
  • Social media 
  • Curbside pickup 

User journeys involve so many touchpoints that utilizing automation for end-to-end testing is the only way retailers can effectively test every integration. Asking a manual tester to write scripts to span every possible touchpoint and user journey is not only an inefficient use of their time, but it’s nearly impossible. 

By combining end-to-end testing with AI and machine learning, you can dramatically increase test coverage, helping you identify any gaps or broken links that will harm delivering an exceptional omnichannel experience. 

5. In-store technology needs test automation as well 

Similar to testing online user behavior that drives customers to your physical store, end-to-end testing is required for your in-store technology as well, namely point-of-sale (POS) systems.  

Implementing intelligent automation for POS testing is crucial because of the number of integrations and workflows that are connected together. Not to mention a variety of application codebases which will cause issues for tools that can only verify the code but not validate the UI.  

And if you’re still thinking about manually testing, just consider the number of different payment methods, devices, and mobile applications available to your customers. Self-service checkouts. Peripheral devices, such as payment terminals, card readers, and chip-and-pin machines your employees use. Buy-Now-Pay-Later APIs. Infrared scanners needed for price tags, coupon codes, and loyalty cards. Clicks-to-bricks to enable curbside pickup. CRMs. Inventory management systems. The list goes on. 

Using AI-driven test automation to ensure every integration functions as expected across numerous devices, platforms, and POS peripherals guarantees a flawless omnichannel experience.  

POS systems need to be simple for your employees to use as well. No one wants their customers queuing and waiting for a simple transaction to be completed, while a shop assistant fumbles about while trying to take payment. Once again, test automation for happy paths at the UI level is an essential piece of the omnichannel testing puzzle.  

6. Omnichannel experiences rely on no outages 

Day-to-day, your website or mobile app might perform fine. The capacity of your IT infrastructure can handle traffic levels, and customers can navigate through your website or mobile app quite happily. 

But what happens when marketing promotes a 50% discount offer across social media, email, SMS, and every other communication channel possible?  

Or when Black Friday and Cyber Monday come around? 

Online traffic surges and your website and mobile app suffer slow-downs. Or worse, crashes completely. Don’t make the mistake and begin load testing too late or not at all. If Amazon can lose $100 million in an hour on Prime Day due to downtime, so can you. 

Load testing verifies that your website and mobile apps can still perform under peak load and identify any bottlenecks along the customer journey that could cause a crash. 

But ensure you conduct user-centric performance testing so that you can simulate virtual users at both the application UI and network protocol levels. This way, you will get a proper understanding of the user experience under peak load. 

Exceptional omnichannel experiences need test automation 

Customers are spoilt for choice; they can interact with your brand across numerous channels. Just having a presence wherever they are isn’t enough. Each channel must connect every user journey to deliver a superior omnichannel experience.  

Fail to do this, and you will only delight your competitors instead of your customers. 

Keysight’s Eggplant AI-driven test automation solution is your perfect partner to ensure you deliver what your customers expect – a seamless omnichannel experience that will keep them coming back for more. 

  • Fast, accurate happy path testing. 
  • Auto-generate test cases with real user data for exploratory testing complex, non-linear customer journeys. 
  • Model-based testing with powerful image and OCR for any device, browser, and operating system regardless of the codebase. 
  • AI-driven end-to-end testing to identify bugs and bottlenecks across the entire user journey and bridge the gap between the digital and physical retail world. 
  • Intelligently test physical devices to ensure they function correctly with a host of digital integrations. 
  • Performance user-centric testing to truly understand how your software affects your customer experience under peak load. 

To make your customers happy, rather than your competitors, trust Eggplant to create an unforgettable omnichannel experience.