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Testing Headless Commerce for Retail Success

By Mike Wager

Mike Wager

Mike Wager - 12 May 2022

Digital trends have revolutionized the online and in-store shopping experience, giving consumers more choices than ever before.

Retailers that have successfully adapted have one thing in common - they have implemented loosely or de-coupled IT infrastructure, such as headless content management systems (CMS). When customer demands change, retailers have greater flexibility and can introduce new services and update existing applications quicker and easier than relying on inflexible monolithic IT systems. 

However, delivering a more enticing user experience comes with a catch; as technical complexity increases, so does the need for robust software testing.

Headless Commerce Needs Full-Stack Testing for Customer Experience Success

Headless architecture and microservices interact with various layers of technologies and applications, so full-stack testing is essential if retailers want to deliver an experience that keeps customers loyal. These different layers include:

  1. Databases
  2. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
  3. Objects or web elements
  4. User interfaces (UI) or presentation layer.

Across these layers, numerous communication paths from the back-end to various UIs, and interactions built with business logic must also be tested to maintain the end-user experience.  

Testing APIs, in particular, is vital because they link all the UI elements with back-end data sources and business logic. In retail, developers use APIs for connecting inventory management and payment systems, CMS, and customer relationship management platforms to deliver a customer-focused experience.

For headless commerce, APIs connect a single back-end to third-party integrations and multiple front-ends. For instance, if you're using a headless CMS, content stored in the back-end can be separated by APIs and published to various customer channels at once. As a result, more unified content can be pushed to websites, mobile apps, in-store digital signage, or even smartwatches faster to deliver an optimized omnichannel experience.

However, interacting with so many different technology layers, systems, and applications makes full-stack software testing challenging for quality assurance (QA) teams. 

Full-Stack Testing Challenges  

Testing numerous layers of technologies requires multiple tools, which quickly causes problems. Some teams will have a tool that only tests a specific API call or a request from the database layer to verify data accuracy. For example, in retail, this could be checking stock levels in an inventory management system. Other testers will use a different tool to validate how the UI layer visually represents the API call, such as confirming that the number of jeans in stock is correctly displayed on an eCommerce site. However, if a defect occurs at any layer, the entire data journey will fail, creating an error-strewn user experience.  

QA teams must combine testing to verify the accuracy of API calls to and from back-end systems and validate the correct response through the object layer to the UI. APIs don't have a graphical user interface (GUI), so you must validate that the end-user visual representation is correct regardless of the customer touchpoint.

Multiple technology layers also combine business logic, custom workflows, and processes, so any instability can severely affect how retailers serve its customer, impacting the bottom line.  

Implementing multiple tools for every test case is possible but maintaining scripts quickly becomes a barrier to optimizing workflows and productivity. Spiraling recurring costs and 'shelf-ware' (lack of use due to skills gaps) will also slow software development cycles and increase time-to-market.  

Optimize Full-Stack Testing with Eggplant DAI and Automation Intelligence  

Keysight's Eggplant DAI is one solution that combines multiple technology layers and tests them together. It orchestrates full-stack testing by creating scenarios that verify API requests from a database through the object layers and validate the visual response at the UI.   

Eggplant DAI simplifies full-stack testing because QA teams only have to deal with one single code layer across every technology layer of an application, facilitating fast and reliable software delivery. 

Discover how Keysight’s Eggplant DAI can optimize full-stack testing for your organization with our helpful guide.