As consumers, we’re all obsessed with omnichannel retail whether we know it or not. I like finding an excellent promotion for my favorite fitness retailer on Facebook mobile, scoping it out, making a selection and adding it to my cart, then finishing up the transaction on my laptop an hour later because hey…sometimes typing in a new shipping address on your phone feels really hard.

But as testers, the ease of omnichannel retail becomes a massive challenge, one that is both exciting and rewarding.

Integrating digital and non-digital channels is complex. That’s why the omnichannel retail environment requires nearly every type of testing under the sun: mobile application testing, load testing, functional testing, operational testing, compatibility testing, and most importantly: customer experience testing.

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While still somewhat of an obnoxious buzzword, “omnichannel retail” is growing to such an extent that it’s a requirement for most companies and brands today. Simply slapping a digital face on a physical storefront is no longer enough to satisfy today’s consumer.

Instead, brands must create a fully optimized customer experience that reflects the true customer journey. This year, 60% of all US retail customer journeys will take place partly online.

Here are five things that testers need to verify in this increasingly complex environment.

1. Customer profiling

Many ecommerce shops today allow users to “like” certain products by giving them hearts. This allows shoppers to save products that they’re considering without actually adding them to the cart.

If a customer is logged in on one device and switches over to another, all favorites should be immediately accessible on that new device.

And what if the customer isn’t logged in?

During the requirements stage, QA engineers can provide input that will drive decisions. Forcing users to log in if they want to “like” something can satisfy larger business goals of increasing signups, while allowing customers to choose favorites without logging in can help a company aggregate more data from its users.

But during post-production testing, it’s necessary to verify that those existing requirements are being met. So, the attempt to favorite a product while not logged in should result in the expected outcome.

Recommended products are another aspect of customer profiling. This can take place based on view history, favorite history, or some other type of engagement. Recommending products is not a feature that requires a login. If a user returns to a site two hours later on the same device, any recommended products section of the site should still be relevant to their earlier interactions.

2. Shopping cart functionality

Saving shopping carts is a must. Customers work hard to choose the right products (and in the right colors and sizes). If a cart gets dropped for any reason, they may give up and go about their busy day.

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For that reason, there are lots of customer demands on online shopping cart functionality:

  • Save the cart if the user goes back during checkout to add or change a product
  • Save the cart if a user logs in to their account on another device
  • Save the cart if the ability to place orders is temporarily down

Receiving an email reminder of what was left in the cart is an advanced technique used by large brands. Saving the cart and saving the sale are continually being improved upon.

Testing for shopping cart functionality will require more than scripted testing. Customer persona-based testing strategies that focus on the complete journey will be much more likely to catch any glitches (and result in helpful suggestions), then a case-based approach.

3. Digital promotion to end POS

One of the most critical customer journeys to perfect is that which begins with a mobile ad.

Most online shoppers are looking for coupon codes. When a brand gives them one upfront, they not only entice shoppers to visit their store but they also control the customer journey to an extent. That customer will not go hunting for an alternate coupon code if they’re satisfied with the one provided.

That’s why it’s so important that any digital promotion (whether mobile ad, social ad, or email) follow the customer all the way through to the POS.

Testers will need to understand how this is intended to occur. What is the existing function that makes this possible? Here are some common options that (if they exist) need to be tested:

  • Shopper is taken straight to the sale and the discount is in the item price
  • The coupon code auto populates during checkout
  • The customer is reminded to manually enter the exact code during checkout or with a banner at the top of the screen

Testing the full life-cycle of all digital promotions pays off big time for retailers. When customers can easily access great deals, they won’t go hunting elsewhere.

4. Digital operations functionality

Digital operations is the new face of digital transformation. This is where the integration between physical and digital spaces gets hashed out.

The Home Depot CEO Frank Blank recently raised the budget to improve in-store pickups for online shopping from $300 million to $1.5 billion to allow customers to not only order from their nearby store, but from the entire catalog.

Testing omnichannel retail isn’t just about acting out user personas and stories. It can also require testing of backend functionality as well, including order fulfillment processes, automated notifications, and cross-channel inventory management updates.

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5. Ease of delivering feedback

After a transaction, most retailers prompt customers towards a desired action. That could be to follow the brand on social media, recommend them to a friend, share a purchase, or sign up for a loyalty card.

Often times, brands prompt customers to deliver feedback. Retailers may ask customers to reach out via social media or contact support for any issues. They also typically request that a review be left after delivery confirmation.

With omnichannel retail, it’s necessary to cover the full customer lifecycle, not stop after an order was successfully placed. QA testers are invaluable for determining whether or not all customer feedback channels are fully functional, usable, and optimized in every way that the customer may use them.

Everything from small ecommerce shops that allow for Facebook purchases to global retailers with physical and digital presences requires testing. QA in these environments can really make or break the customer experience, and directly impact sales.

At Testlio, we help large retailers ensure a smooth online customer journey. Learn more about our services, professional testers, and processes for retail brands.

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Dayana is a QA engineer turned technology writer living in Milan, Italy. She's always down for a smoothie.
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