How to Prepare Your eCommerce App Ahead of the Holidays

With Halloween less than a week away and Thanksgiving not far behind, we’ve only got one thing on the brain: eCommerce testing.

Sure, it may not seem as fun as trick-or-treating or turkey feasts, but it’s just as important — especially if you’re an online retailer. Because just on the heels of Thanksgiving comes Black Friday (November 23), then Cyber Monday (November 26), followed by a month of shopping for holiday presents.

Last year, Adobe Analytics reported that shoppers in the US spent $19.62 billion online between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. On Black Friday alone, 54.3 percent of all site visits and 36.9 percent of all sales came from mobile devices. Mobile sales were even higher on Cyber Monday, with eCommerce setting a record $2 billion day from 47.4 percent mobile visits.

But it’s not just that five-day period that has enormous sales potential: According to Adobe, there were $108.2 billion made in online sales in November and December of last year. That was a nearly 15% increase from the year prior — and there’s no reason not to expect a similar jump in 2018.

If you’re an online retailer, you probably already know that it’s smart to be ahead of these annual events. But that doesn’t just mean planning your holiday discounts or strategizing your social media posts; it means properly preparing your website or app for the more than 58 million people who will do their shopping online this holiday season.

How to Prepare Your eCommerce Site for Increased Sales

Clearly, Black Friday is just the beginning of peak site activity and an increase in sales for eCommerce retailers. Is your site ready for the traffic? Are you optimized for taking advantage of the influx of shopping?

And optimizing your eCommerce site isn’t just important ahead of the holidays anyway. A 2017 global eCommerce report from Pitney Bowes surveyed 12,000 consumers across 12 global markets and found that, across the board, retailers were not always meeting consumer expectations.

While there are a number of important factors to take into consideration when it comes to the retail experience and consumer satisfaction—including convenience, speed, and accuracy — perhaps the most important step to take is ensuring that your website or app can even handle the influx of mobile visitors that are undoubtedly headed your way.

And how do you do that? You test.

Important Types of Testing for eCommerce

Testing your eCommerce app ensures that you’re prepared for the increased activity come Black Friday (and beyond). Here are just a few of types of testing you may want to consider:

Icon of hand testing on a mobile devicePerformance, Load, and Stress Testing

Perhaps most important during the holidays, performance, load, and stress testing ensures that your website or app are able to perform well under extreme circumstances — such as, you know, 58 million more visitors than usual.

Each method tests the response time of your app under separate conditions: Performance testing specifically tests the response time of your application when in use by the expected number of users. Load testing tests your app under a heavier load of activity than usual. And stress testing takes it one step further by testing the performance of your app by increasing the load until it breaks.

All three are important tests to consider as part of your overall testing strategy ahead of the holidays.

Bug Testing Icon

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Functionality Testing

Functionality testing is a core testing type for websites and apps. As the name suggests, functionality testing ensures that your website or app functions as it’s supposed to — in other words, every feature, requirement, and environment works as the user expects it to.

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Icon of laptop, tablet, and mobile phoneCompatibility Testing

Compatibility testing confirms that your website or app works with myriad different devices, platforms, and operating systems — ensuring that your app works for every user, no matter the device or OS they prefer. With eCommerce in particular, it’s important to confirm that users are easily able to create an account or checkout properly across different browsers, screen sizes, and devices.

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Cloud Storage IconConnectivity Testing

Since some users will be using your app or visiting your mobile website while in your store, it’s also useful to make sure your app connectivity is strong. Connectivity testing ensures that their devices stay connected (and communicating) as they’re supposed to by considering and testing your app in different network environments and with various pairing instructions, for example.

Of course, these are not the only types of eCommerce testing you should be focused on heading into the holiday season. There’s one significant test that is consistently (and rather significantly) left out of most eCommerce testing strategies during the holidays (and throughout the year).

The Increased Importance of Accessibility

It’s clearly important to have a stable eCommerce website or app ahead of the holiday sales rush, but have you considered whether or not your site or app is accessible to all visitors?

Accessibility testing is as important and integral to application testing as any other type — and yet, it’s less often considered . . . even ahead of significant user traffic, like during the holidays.

In 2010, the US census estimated that 56.7 million people — or 19 percent of the American population — was living with a disability. Ranging from screen readers to magnification software to recognition software, and more, there are myriad different ways that various people may have to interact with your website or app.

Much like with compatibility testing, accessibility testing takes on special significance when it comes to the ease with which users can navigate and check out on your site or app. Pay special attention to the accessibility of your individual product pages, navigation, adding products to the cart, and the checkout process.

Because if every user can’t use it? Then you’re probably going to lose some of that nearly $20 billion in sales.

How to Make Your App More Accessible

So, how do you test for accessibility?

By testing for color scheme and contrast, text alternatives or captions, and ease of navigation, amongst other accessibility considerations, you’ll ensure that your application is functional and easy-to-use for every user.

To start, just consider the basics. W3C provides a simple checklist to help businesses ensure the accessibility of their websites, including offering alternatives for text, images, keyboard access, multimedia, and more.

Of course, your best bet is to hire a professional team to review and recommend the necessary changes to ensure accessibility. This is especially important for businesses who are required to be accessibility-compliant; a rule that doesn’t yet apply to most online retailers, though businesses will likely be fined for lacking accessibility features in the near future.

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While this may sound like a lot of work, you’re saving yourself a lot of time (and earning yourself a lot more money) by considering the overall user experience — performance, accuracy, and perhaps most importantly, accessibility — of your eCommerce website or app from the start.

There are just 28 days ‘til Thanksgiving — get your website, app, and mobile website ready early. And start testing today!

Need help testing your eCommerce app ahead of the holidays? Let us know!

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