Ways to Improve Performance Testing of E-Commerce Applications
Performance testing is a non-functional software testing method that determines how the stability, speed and scalability of an application, network, software program or device will hold up under a given amount of workload. Though one of the most essential steps in ensuring the quality and endurance of a given application, performance testing is often overlooked in the process and considered towards the end of the application development. The positioning of this step in the software testing cycle can play a vital role in the end performance of your application.
The end goal of performance testing is to evaluate the output of your application, test the speed, data transfer velocity, network bandwidth usage, maximum concurrent users, memory utilization, workload efficiency, and command response time that can help ensure a positive user experience.
Talking about applications in general, eCommerce applications are the kind that suffers the highest performance issues. Consider the streets of Manhattan on a Christmas eve. Every business owner wishes to be able to host millions of visitors on their website. Amazon for example hosted 2.44 billion combined desktop and mobile visitors in February 2020 (source: Statista). Walmart on the other hand had 138.3 million unique visitors in December 2019.
Combined desktop and mobile visits to Amazon.com from May 2019 to September 2020(in millions)
The one issues every e-tailer faces frequently is their inability to accurately predict the number of visitors they’ll be hosting over a peak sale season at a single point in time. This mostly results in a sudden rush of traffic, ending up in a bad overall customer experience.
Noting that the sales of retail eCommerce businesses has been increasing worldwide and is expected to touch 6,542 billion dollars by 2023, it can be deduced that demand for eCommerce applications to subject to rising along with the need for proper eCommerce application testing.
The key to resolve this additional load on your website lies in establishing the right performance testing strategy that ensures a few basic considerations.
So, the one question that you need to ask before establishing your performance testing strategy is –
‘What to consider while performance testing your e-commerce applications?’
Following are some key pointers that can be considered:
1. Performance across all Geographical Locations
E-retailers need to take the geographical location of their users into account while testing applications for different geographical locations. Making sure that a business owner based in New York is able to deliver a quality customer experience to a user in any of the Asian countries is a mandate, especially in their peak sale seasons. This can often be termed as localisation testing as it ensures that the application once created, is readily adaptable to a particular region, locale, or culture settings and environment.
2. Performance Across Devices
Ensuring that an application is performing well across devices is an essential part of the testing process. Considering the increased usage of mobile applications, it’s important to ensure that your application is performing as per the expected usage standards across all devices including mobile phones, tablets, desktops, etc. Performance testing dedicated to these devices ensures the application does not crash during peak loads.
Usually, a dedicated load generation software is used to expose the application to added user load to check its performance across these devices. Two of the best performance testing tools trending in the market is JMeter and LoadRunner. Both are highly responsive tools used by leading software testing companies worldwide.
3. Search Data Transactions
Few product search history data that gets stored in application searches by the customers are more network-intensive than others. Testing these transactions across devices can help ensure optimal transaction speed is achieved. Every user path here needs to be carefully analysed to avoid any bottlenecks for users.
Basic Tips and Tricks to Follow in Performance Testing
Here are some proven tips to help you get the most reliable results from your tests.
1. Use Random Datasets for More Realistic Testing
It’s important to ensure that the data set being used for your application’s performance testing is appropriate. Make sure that you use varying datasets to make your testing more realistic.
Manually entering these datasets can be an issue while doing it repeatedly. To rectify that, datastores can be used that use parameterized data created from a CSV file.
2. Payment Portal Testing
Holding an eCommerce application means that you have a common payment gateway that needs to be tested before the application is released for the masses. A major issue that arises here is that many payment gateway service providers do not share a favourable QA testing environment for you to be able to test your application successfully. That’s a step they take to ensure you do not spam their portals with thousands of virtual users which is quite reasonable.
But skipping this process is an absolute ‘no-no’. So, to make this process a little smoother you can intimate your payment service provider about your testing strategy well in advance. Some are often kind enough to provide you with sample data sets and testing gateways to help you test the performance of your application successfully.
3. Emails and SMS Testing
Every eCommerce service provider shares a push mail that a customer receives once their order has been placed followed by monthly promotional emails sharing details of upcoming sales or individual discounts that can be forwarded to the users. Testing these email trails is important to ensure your emails are not blacklisted as spam. This mostly occurs because a lot of emails are shared in a short period of time while load testing.
Similarly, for SMS, you’ll probably have to disable your SMS trails to save cost while load testing your SMS and email setup.
4. Inventory Testing in Supply Chain
For most eCommerce application owners, maintaining an apt inventory system is a mandate they need to follow. While testing these setups, you must ensure that the product being tested in the cycle has plenty of inventory backup. In an ideal performance testing environment, for such supply chain systems, virtual users will keep ordering that item until it runs out of stock and ultimately the system will auto re-order the stock from your warehouse.
So, make sure you’re either testing a product with plenty of inventory or confine some items specifically for your load testing that won’t “run out” of inventory or trigger an auto-reorder.
5. Testing other Integrations
The way you need to test your inventory gateway system, testing other integrated systems like, invoicing, logistics providers, printing, CRM, financials, etc. that are directly linked with your ordering system is also essential. In an ideal testing environment, you must ensure that you include only testing datasets or separate accounts created to run your tests to avoid any hiccups arising towards the end of your testing cycle.
Performance testing of eCommerce applications is a tricky task. There are various parameters that need to be tested to ensure the application is running as per its expected terms. Your applications would be often exposed to a fabricated stimulus to test their performance on various parameters mentioned above. Other than the necessary tools your company needs to ensure that the application is suitable for various geographical locations across networks and runs effectively across all devices.
As mentioned, companies often overlook this step in their software testing routine that ends up creating unnecessary bottlenecks towards the end of their release stage. Approaching the right load testing services provider can help you streamline your testing strategy from the very beginning.