An online store is your ecommerce business’s most critical piece of infrastructure. A sleek, functional website can boost brand loyalty and sales. But glitches or confusion can erode trust and make it difficult for customers to purchase your products.
For this reason, many ecommerce business owners invest in website testing before launching their stores and as a part of ongoing maintenance. Adequate testing can help identify errors, improve security and reliability, and optimize design.
Here’s what ecommerce website testing is and where to focus your testing efforts.
What is ecommerce testing?
Ecommerce website testing involves evaluating an ecommerce site’s features, functions, systems, and display to identify issues that could interfere with your ability to sell products online. This type of testing helps your store work as intended, with a smooth, secure, and efficient user experience.
Common testing methods include manual testing, automated testing, and A/B testing. Here’s an overview of each:
- Manual testing: To perform manual testing, design different scenarios (test cases) and assess your sites under these conditions.
- Automated testing: A test automation project involves developing a test automation framework with test cases and then using automated testing tools, such as Selenium or Playwright, to execute test scripts (testing instructions written in a programming language). Many automated testing tools generate reports that can provide detailed insights into test results, including pass/fail statuses, performance metrics, and potential defects.
- A/B testing: A/B testing measures how users interact with two versions of a piece of content to determine which produces better results. Business owners typically use A/B testing software tools to run tests.
Benefits of ecommerce testing
Ecommerce site testing is vital for ecommerce businesses.Thorough testing can help you identify errors, monitor performance, and optimize your site. Here’s an overview of the benefits:
Ecommerce testing can help you resolve issues with your ecommerce store that might otherwise expose your business to risk. For example, testing can help you identify and mitigate site security issues that could make you vulnerable to cyberattacks. Attacks that expose a user’s sensitive data (such as financial information) can damage your reputation and potentially result in legal action against your company.
Improved user experience
Site testing can help you boost site speed, identify broken functions, design more user-friendly interfaces, and ensure that your site displays well under a range of user conditions—all of which contribute to a better user experience.
If your ecommerce website relies on online shopping to make money,designing a functional and easy-to-use website is essential for converting visitors into customers. Testing can help boost conversions by making it easier for users to interact with your online store.
Improving site structure and page speed can also boost your standing in search results, helping you reach new customers and make more sales.
What to test on ecommerce websites
Not all pages are equally important. Focus your testing efforts on essential site elements, especially on pages and features that support online shopping.
Here are key features to prioritize for efficient ecommerce website testing:
Your site’s main navigation and search functions allow users to get around and find their desired products. Having broken or misdirected links, malfunctioning search features, or navigation issues are major problems that can cause users to lose trust in your website and look elsewhere.
Test search features and navigational functions to find and fix any critical usability errors.
Your homepage introduces your brand, tells visitors how your business can help solve their problems, and functions as a versatile entry point for customers from various traffic sources.
Check your homepage HTTP status code, a numerical response from a web server indicating the status of a web request. It can be reviewed by examining server logs, using browser developer tools, or employing network monitoring software.
Because homepages see so much traffic, many site owners also A/B test homepage designs to isolate design choices that encourage users to take desired actions (such as browsing product catalogs). For example, you might test two hero images or CTA button placements to see which generates more user engagement.
Product details pages set user expectations and drive most—if not all—ecommerce store conversion (users typically visit a product page to add an item to a shopping cart). Effective pages are functional and accurate: mistakes can result in frustrated customers and returned orders.
Test your product pages thoroughly to avoid common problems like missing data, miscategorization of products, and issues adding items to a shopping cart.
A user’s ability to check out and complete their order is an important ecommerce website test case. Common problems include issues with payment gateways, calculating taxes, and calculating the cost of preferred shipping methods. Ecommerce testing can reveal issues with online payment management systems or checkout processes.
Just because your site looks great on your desktop doesn’t mean it displays correctly on a mobile device—and with more than 60% of all online purchases coming from mobile devices, mobile performance is a critical test case for ecommerce businesses.
The most common issue with mobile devices is display-related. Because mobile screens are typically smaller than desktop device screens and use different aspect ratios, desktop display formats are often illegible or partially cut off on mobile devices. Use mobile testing to confirm your site is attractive and usable when displayed on common mobile aspect ratios.
Types of ecommerce tests
There’s more than one ecommerce test—some evaluate how a site works or looks, while others test how well it can protect a user’s sensitive information.
Functional testing is used to evaluate the performance of features like search tools or checkouts. You can create functional test cases and use manual or automated testing methods to identify issues. Mobile application testing is also considered a functional test.
Perform security testing to check user account security, credit card security, SSL certificate validation, data confidentiality, and access control. Security tests can also assess your website’s vulnerability to cyberattacks.
Although business owners with extensive technical knowledge can manually test some security features, many use automated security testing tools.
Localization testing checks your site’s performance in various business regions to determine whether market-specific site variations display as intended.
For example, sites that support multilingual markets typically present content in the predominant language of the user’s region. You can manually test localization using software that simulates browsing from different locations or use tools designed for automating localization testing, like Localise or BrowserStack.
Database testing evaluates the accuracy and reliability of your site’s databases. Ecommerce databases store site data (like product page info) and transaction data (like order and inventory information).
Database tests can be manual or automated. Automation can be particularly valuable if you store large amounts of information.
Performance testing includes page speed testing, load testing, and stress testing. These tests evaluate your site’s performance under various conditions, such as heavy web traffic or for users with slower internet connections. You can use either manual or automated testing methods for this process.
Usability testing (or user interface testing) measures how easily users can interact with your site. It also includes accessibility testing, which evaluates site characteristics like color contrast and alt text usage that can enhance the experience for users with disabilities. A/B testing is a common strategy for evaluating site usability.
Conduct regression tests after site updates to ensure that changes don’t lead to errors or loss of site content. Because ecommerce sites tend to require frequent updates, many store owners run regression tests regularly.
Although manual regression testing is possible, automated testing can increase efficiency, which is particularly valuable if you plan to repeat the process daily or weekly.
Ecommerce testing FAQ
What are the challenges of ecommerce testing?
Ecommerce testing can be challenging when managing large amounts of data, evaluating complicated user journeys, or measuring multiple aspects of your website at the same time. But choosing the right type of ecommerce testing (such as security, database, or performance testing) can produce meaningful insights.
Are there tools for testing ecommerce websites?
Yes. Automated testing tools can help with executing test scripts and generating test reports.