Electronic commerce or E-Commerce Application
Electronic commerce (e-commerce or e-comm), is the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks.
It provides technologies such as electronic funds transfer, supply chain management, Internet marketing, online transaction processing, inventory management systems, and automated data collection systems.
E-Commerce Software Testing
· It ensures that every page is tested, e-commerce transactions are validated and application is ready for customer use.
· The software’s Functionality, compatibility, security, performance and usability are checked
· Testing is crucial to e-commerce because e-commerce sites are both business critical and highly visible to their users;
· Yet the time pressures in the e-commerce world militate against the thorough testing usually associated with business criticality, so a new approach is needed to enable testing to be integrated into the development process and to ensure that testing does not present a significant time burden.
· Rapid Applications Development (RAD), in particular, suggests some promising approaches. Like most new ventures, though, e-commerce must find its own way and establish its own methods
Growth of E-commerce:
· E-commerce continues its double-digit year-over-year growth rate, because sales are shifting away from stores and because online shoppers are less sensitive to adverse economic conditions than the average consumer.
· 32 million people (66% of all adults) purchased goods or services over the internet in 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics. This was an increase from 62% in 2010.
· Despite the continued growth of the channel, online retailers face several challenges to growth: Online stores are broadly perceived as a second choice for shoppers, online retail is becoming increasingly seasonal, and online shoppers rarely admit to browsing, which can drive valuable incremental money during their Web shopping experiences.
Ten Key Principles of Effective E-Commerce Testing:
Principle1. Testing is a risk management process: Effective testing adopts a strategy that is tailored to the type of application or service being tested, the business value of the application or service, and the risks that would accompany its failure. The detailed planning of the testing and the design of the tests can then is confirmed by the strategy into a business-focused activity that adds real business value and provides some objective assessment of risk at each stage of the development process. Plans should include measures of risk and value and incorporate testing and other quality-related activities that ensure development is properly focused on achieving maximum value with minimum risk.
Principle2. Know the value of the applications being tested: To manage risk effectively, we must know the business value of success as well as the cost of failure. The business community must be involved in setting values on which the risk assessment can be based and committed to delivering an agreed level of quality
Principle3. Set clear testing objectives and criteria for successful completion (including test coverage measures): The test programmed must be properly planned, with test scripts giving precise instructions and expected results. Some assessment can be made of how many of the requirements have been tested at any given time. Criteria for successful completion are based on delivering enough business value, testing enough of the requirements to be confident of the most important behavior of the site, and minimizing the risk of a significant failure.
Principle4. Create an effective test environment. It would be very expensive to create a completely representative test environment for e-commerce, given the variety of platforms and the use of the Internet as a communications medium. Cross-platform testing is, naturally, an important part of testing any multi-platform software application. In the case of e-commerce, the term ‘cross-platform’ must also extend to include ‘cross-browser’. In order to ensure that a site loads and functions properly from all supported platforms, as much stress and load testing as possible should be performed. As an absolute minimum, several people should be able to log into the site and access it concurrently, from a mixture of the browsers and platforms supported. It would, therefore, be beneficial to use automated tools, such as Segue’s Silk Performer or Mercury Interactive Load Runner, for performance/load testing.
Principle5. Test as early as possible in the development cycle: The earlier faults are detected, the cheaper the cost of rectification. In the case of an e-commerce site, a fault found after shipping will have been detected as a failure of the site by the marketplace, which is potentially as large as the number of Internet users. This has the added complication of loss of interest and possibly the loss of customer loyalty, as well as the immediate cost of fixing the fault. The fact that e-commerce development is rapid and often based on changing requirements makes early testing difficult, but testing strategies have been developed by the RAD community, and these can be mobilized for support.
Principle6. User Acceptance Testing (UAT): The client or ultimate owner of the e-commerce site should perform field testing and acceptance testing, with involvement from the provider where needed, at the end of the development process. Even if RAD is used with its continuous user testing approach, there are some attributes of an e-commerce site that will not be easy (or even possible, in some cases) to validate in this way. Some form of final testing that can address issues such as performance and security needs to be included as a final confirmation that the site will perform well with typical user interactions. E-commerce users are becoming increasingly intolerant of poor sites, and technical issues related to functionality, performance or reliability have been cited as primary reasons why customers have abandoned sites. Early exposure of users to sites with problems increases the probability that they will find the site unacceptable, even if developers continue to improve the site during beta testing.
Principle7. Regression testing: Regression testing confirms that changes did not have unintended effects, so this must be a major feature of any e-commerce testing strategy. Web-based applications that reference external links need regular regression testing, even if their functionality does not change, because the environment is changing continuously. Wherever possible, regression testing should be automated, in order to minimize the impact on the test schedule.
Principle8. Automate as much as possible: This is a risky principle because test automation is fraught with difficulties. The key is to take testing processes sufficiently seriously that you document them and control them so that automation becomes a feasible option – then you select, purchase and install the tools. It will not be quick or cheap – but it might just avoid a very expensive failure.
Principle9. Capture test incidents and use them to manage risk at release time: A test incident is any discrepancy between the expected and actual results of a test. Only some test incidents will relate to actual faults; some will be caused by incorrect test scripts, misunderstandings or deliberate changes to system functionality. All incidents found must be recorded via an incident management system (IMS), which can then be used to ascertain what faults are outstanding in the system and what the risks of release might be.
Principle10. Manage change properly to avoid undoing all the testing effort. Things change quickly and often in an e-commerce development and management of change can be a bottleneck, but there is little point in testing one version of a software application and then shipping a different version; not only is the testing effort wasted, but the risk is not reduced either. Configuration Management tools, such as PVCS and ClearCase, can help to minimize the overheads of change management, but the discipline is the most important thing.
Why is testing important in the e-commerce Application?
· The first and primary reason is because e-commerce is, by its very nature, business critical and highly visible to its user’s.
· Any failure can be immediately expensive in terms of lost revenue and even more expensive in the longer term if disaffected users seek alternative sites.
· E-commerce is a massive and growing market place but one which requires large up-front investment to enter successfully.
· The history of e-commerce development has been littered with expensive failures, at least some of which could have been avoided by better testing before the site was opened to the general public.
· Quality Assurance of the software or application developed
· Verification and validating the product/application before it goes live in the market to prevent it from intruders and hackers.
· Defect free and user friendly application.