Six ways retailers can improve their compatibility testing

Date: September 2018

Due to the sharp rise in use of the internet and mobile devices, omnichannel shopping – where consumers are engaging in a variety of technologies in order to purchase goods – is rapidly increasing. As a result, retailers must test and understand their user experience across these channels in order to capitalise on the evolving marketplace.

Omnichannel software testing

Compatibility testing is specifically about testing the compatibility of a system or application across a range of devices, operating systems and browsers, as an example, validating specific device features e.g. screen sizes, UI look and feel, and rendering of images and videos.

Here are our top six ways retailers can improve their compatibility testing.  

1. Prioritise the browsers and mobile devices most commonly used by your consumers?

In a world of ever-evolving internet browsers and devices, a good and clear understanding of what your consumers primarily use to access your eCommerce platforms is key. This information should be available in your analytics application and have the ability to see how it has changed over time.

As exhaustive testing is impossible, a risk-based approach to compatibility testing should be performed. Once you have identified which are the most popular devices accessing your product or application you can then start to prioritise and categorise them, allowing you to reduce or increase the testing coverage as required without exposing too much risk.

Taking a risk-based approach focuses your testing on where there will be the optimum return on investment and ensures it can be delivered within the given restrictions of time, budget and resources.

2. Understand the technology

In order to design an effective test plan there is a real need to understand web platforms, architectures, and device features so these can be planned for properly.

System Architecture

Technologies’ behaviour will vary with different operating systems, browsers and devices therefore, it is critical these technological features are understood from the outset. This will help to streamline the planning process, resource use and budget. For example, testing a responsive web application should be validated across multiple devices, browsers and operating systems, including varying screen sizes, and pixelisation to ensure that the application functionally works including the user interface, look and feel.

As the market for mobile devices increases, there is a huge amount of devices being used to access multiple systems or applications, the importance of having a broad range of devices across technologies is crucial so that all customers can access and can have a consistently innovative and personalised positive user experience

3. Think about connectivity and external factors affecting your devices

Mobile Connectivity
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An increasing number  of consumers are now using eCommerce websites and applications on the move, making compatibility testing ever more challenging and complex to deliver.

Now with more than half of all internet traffic coming from a mobile device, it is extremely important to make sure your website is primed for mobile viewing:

  • 62% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months
  • 80% of shoppers used a mobile phone inside of a physical store to either look up product reviews, compare prices or find alternative store locations

Your users’ experience is not just affected by the features of the device they are using e.g. screen size, but will also be affected by a much larger and sometimes rapidly changing set of variables such as location, network and connectivity.

Effective compatibility testing should also check how your application will be affected by these changing factors e.g. what happens if a user is part way through the shopping cart but then there is a drop in network connection as they go through a tunnel? To truly understand and optimise the user experience in your application you need testing to replicate these real-world conditions.

4. Create a flexible test plan

Whilst compatibility testing is very flexible it should not be restricted by a rigid, final approved plan. Creating flexibility into your test plan allows you to adapt to any issues that are identified whilst testing. As an example there could be a large amount of defects being identified with iOS devices across a specific user journey using a range of devices.

Having a flexible plan allows efforts to be re-prioritised and focused within the area of high risk to make better use of resources.

5. Maximise resources by using structured exploratory testing

When performing mobile compatibility testing you are assuming the product has already been functionally tested.  Therefore, you do not need to test every function in the same way. Running the same test scripts against a range of devices is time-consuming and unnecessary. Exploratory testing leverages the skill and aptitude of the software tester(s) to provide more insightful results. The large number of variables at play in the mobile landscape means it lends itself particularly well to exploratory testing.

Cem Kaner, who coined the term in 1984, [1] defines exploratory testing as, “A style of software testing that emphasizes the personal freedom and responsibility of the individual tester to continually optimize the quality of his/her work by treating test-related learning, test design, test execution, and test result interpretation as mutually supportive activities that run in parallel throughout the project.” Wikipedia.

Typically, for retail compatibility testing we would recommend taking a structured exploratory testing approach. By using script-based exploratory testing, it ensures there is direction and focus given to the testing. This allows the testers to maximise application coverage. You can learn more about structured exploratory testing in our blog.

6. Don’t underestimate the importance of regression testing

For retailers, regression testing is vital to ensure that previous functionality continues to work as it should when new features or updates are added and released into your eCommerce application. However, regression testing is not only driven by your own product development roadmap. Due to the fast-paced nature of operating systems, devices and browsers, there are regular updates and new releases each year which retailers need to keep pace with.

Retailers need to consider how best to support these peaks in demand for testing without diverting resources away from revenue-generating new functionality and development. Ten10’s digital test lab has been specifically designed to support the peaks in demand that in-house teams can struggle to support.

We typically have access to pre-release versions of browsers and operating systems so can mitigate the risk and the adverse impact of OS and browser upcoming releases could have on live eCommerce applications.



Ten10’s software testing services for retailers

Ten10 is the UK’s leading independent provider of software testing solutions. As a proven and trusted partner for the retail sector, Ten10 brings experience testing a wide range of retail-specific applications including; front-end website and mobile apps, 3rd party payment tools and integration, full ERP systems, POS systems, warehousing and logistics platforms to name a few.

Our Digital Test Lab provides solutions for clients who are; developing a new application (or upgrade) to support business growth, have a requirement to meet industry regulations, and for those who need to ensure an existing application will continue to work as expected against new releases for devices, browsers and operating systems.

The Ten10 Digital Test Lab provides you with a comprehensive range of independent, specialist testing services to meet all of your digital demands. From accessibility and usability testing, compatibility testing across browsers and devices right through to performance testing and automated mobile testing.