How to improve your website conversion rates with functional testing • eCommerce Forum | Forum Events Ltd
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  • How to improve your website conversion rates with functional testing

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    The ecommerce market is set to reach more than $8.3 trillion by 2025 according to fintech leader FIS. That’s a massive opportunity for online retailers and this article explores how thorough and ongoing functional testing can help you realise your digital potential and capture your share with fewer growing pains.

    What is functional testing?

    Functional testing defines a range of software tests intended to verify that every function of a website or app is operating in the way it should. These tests typically include systematic checks of user interface, accessibility, APIs and other integrations to ensure an application is bug-free and functions in line with its business requirements.

    Functional tests can and should be carried out in test environments prior to major software releases but also post-release to ensure changes have not accidentally introduced bugs and issues into the live environment.

    Digital teams involved in huge ecommerce projects have to handle many moving parts and integrations. At times the pressure to get new features to market faster means that teams have no choice but to release partially or inadequately tested features because they don’t have the resources to conduct much more than basic tests before release.

    But these are exactly the moments when you need the most exhaustive functional testing to ensure everything is working exactly as it should be. These are the make or break moments for revenue and reputation. The diversity of devices accessing sites and apps has increased, while the pressure for brands to deliver richer digital experiences and more frictionless sales has continued unabated. As a result, the functional testing challenge has risen further.

    The continued fragmentation of customer experience impacts conversion rates

    Every year, according to Browserstack, across the world more than 4 billion people access the web through a combination of more than 9000 distinct devices, 21 different operating systems and 8 major engines that power hundreds of different browsers. That’s an estimated 63,000 possible browser/platform/device combinations that could be accessing your website at any given time.

    This state of fragmentation means there are hundreds of possible reasons why a website might see a sudden drop in revenue and a myriad ways a site or an app might be failing to convert visitors to customers.

    ‘Leaky’ browsers – bugs associated with specific hardware and software combinations are difficult to detect but can suppress conversion rates in dramatic ways.  Error messages, forms that can’t be completed, API failure and the rest, can all cause payment journeys to end abruptly – but they can be so specific to certain devices that their impact can be difficult to discern across the ‘noise’ of other analytics.

    Functional tests that cover the full gamut of devices and browsers replicating the keystrokes of vital customer journeys, will show up where problems with popular combinations might lie.

    Using a professional testing agency, who can mobilise teams and run functional tests at size and scale before and immediately after release is often the best option for an ecommerce brand who may have limited testing resources. They can ensure every testing angle is being covered during moments that are key to commercial and brand credibility.

    Functional testing is an ongoing challenge

    Meeting the challenge of delivering new and more engaging features that can transform more visitors to customers, depends on detecting and understanding when, where and how those efforts are succeeding or failing in real-time.

    In this context, too often, it’s impossible for an eCommerce manager, faced with an array of metrics showing sudden dips or peaks in revenue or basket abandons to make sense of it all, and see where a conversion problem may lie.

    Where there are so many moving parts responsible for the optimal performance of a website or app you need real-world testing data and teams working 365/24/7 to ensure you are keeping on top of it all.

    Because the cost of doing nothing is often calamitous for online business.  An undetected bug responsible for a single hour of downtime can cost hundreds of thousands in revenue. Even a single frustrating experience on a website could mean that customers exit a site before completing a purchase never to return.

    You need to be sure you have the resource and strategy in place to seek out and eliminate the bugs that will inevitably arise as new layers of functionality are introduced.

    The challenge of testing

    It’s not just the speed of new releases that is a challenge for traditional QA teams to navigate. Better and more compelling customer experiences using new techniques, cutting edge configurators, personalisation options and the like are all creating more unique customer journeys that need more intense and bespoke testing sequences to validate them.

    It’s becoming more necessary than ever, but increasingly impossible to adequately test everything you are releasing, with the rigour and to the quality standards that your business needs.

    In response to this many businesses are finding that having outsourced, professional testers engaged in bespoke, ongoing regression and new functionality testing is the way to make the most out of their stretched resources.

    The right external testing solution can provide the insights you need, allowing you to prioritise developer’s time on the fixes that will protect conversion rates most effectively.

    But it can also transform the way your internal digital and QA teams are able to function.  With constant, routine functional testing conducted rapidly and efficiently by trusted partners, your internal teams can be freed to focus on strategic testing priorities.

    They will have the time and energy available to define and oversee the kind of non-functional, usability and exploratory testing that will further optimise and grow your conversion rate.

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