For many of today’s retailers, ecommerce is a vital consideration. Consumers have long grown used to shopping online, and a dedicated ecommerce website is an excellent choice. But apps make shopping easier than ever before, and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Building an app shouldn’t be taken lightly – they require thoughtful design and need to allow for updates. With this comes the need for market research, regular regression testing, and more.
The Importance of Apps
Apps are very popular with today’s mobile users. This popularity reflects a broader interest in mobile browsing, which first surpassed desktop browsing back in 2016. That interest has continued to trend upwards; today’s mobile devices have just over half of the internet’s market share.
An app isn’t a magic bullet for a business; before developing a mobile app you need to carefully consider what you want to achieve with it. But the appeal of apps is clear; they make interacting with a brand simple. Rather than going into a web browsing app and entering a URL, customers can get straight to the shop of their choosing. Apps can also use a smartphone’s unique features (like GPS and cameras) to aid the shopping process, as well as provide easy access to things like reward schemes and wishlists.
This explains why 62% of smartphone owners typically use apps to make purchases (as opposed to a mobile or desktop site). Apps also have a conversion rate that’s three times higher than their mobile site counterparts.
The Key Considerations
Ecommerce apps must be as strong as their developers can make them. Their ubiquity means competition is fierce, and customers need very little reason to delete one. Many will make their displeasure known via social media or reviews, which can do major damage to a retailer’s reputation.
Always remember that mobile users are highly fickle; 78% of users uninstall an app within 90 days. This is for several different reasons – an app might be too slow, too complicated or simply irrelevant to the person who downloaded it.
Some of these issues are an easy fix; you might just need to boost the amount of visual content, for instance. Others need a bit more work. An app might fail to protect a user’s privacy, which is (legitimately) a major concern for today’s users.
Businesses are also fighting the different natures of digital and physical storefronts. Unlike a brick-and-mortar shop, an app is easier to walk away from. While the latter is a commitment—you have to consciously travel to a shop—an app is not, and users don’t need much reason to get rid of it. Since app uninstalls can result in significant financial losses for businesses, a strong testing process is very important.
Good apps prioritise ease of use, attractive design and top notch security. They need to be available across platforms (which needs a good cross-platform mobile app framework) and run well on multiple devices. And, of course, they need to be bug-free.
They must also be able to be tested and updated quickly. Business continuity software can help with this; it ensures an app’s dev team can keep working, and that their app doesn’t fall behind the competition.
The Testing Process
We’ve determined that testing an ecommerce app is essential. But where to start? And what is functional testing? Ecommerce apps are complex things, and the prospect of testing it all can be daunting.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way. Mobile app testing tutorials give us useful frameworks on how to test an app before mass use. Functionality testing helps developers eliminate problems like slow loading times, crashes, and poor security & accessibility. Real environment testing also ensures an app works on the actual devices it’s designed for. Aim for an app that works properly (whenever & wherever it’s used), protects sensitive information, and can be navigated easily.
It’s tempting to add extra functions which can help your app stand out in a crowded marketplace. But having too many can compromise an app’s basic functions and damage your reputation in the process. Prioritise basic functionality above everything else; everything else is compromised without it.
Most apps tend to get regular updates (although too many can be a turnoff). This means that testing isn’t something you do once. It’s something you do on a regular basis, to ensure the customer experience is as good as possible.
Ongoing quality assurance (or QA) works best if you use a continuous build. Continuous integration allows an app’s developers to regularly put their work into a shared repository. This in turn helps them to automate testing and fix errors more easily.
The Customer Journey
Another good way to ensure an app is customer-friendly is to use the app as they would. Just as a client onboarding process template helps us see things from a user’s perspective, going through an app from start to finish demonstrates if everything works as expected for them.
Start with the homepage; are images high quality, and the text easy to read? Does the main image load fast, and are there working links? The homepage gets more traffic than any other part of your site, so it’s worthy of some attention.
Next, move on to the process of finding a product. The search bar needs to account for different search approaches (e.g. by product name, brand name or broad category) and customers should have different sorting options (by price or customer rating, for example). Product pages also need to have as much information as possible—price, specifications, delivery charges and high-quality images.
Shopping carts will lose you customers if they don’t work properly. On a basic level a customer should be able to add, remove and change the quantity of products. Shipping costs and a space to enter promotional codes should also appear here. Payments need to be both simple and secure; an app should be PCI-compliant to avoid any unfortunate data breaches. On your end, there also needs to be accounting for inventory.
Don’t forget about the post-purchase experience, either. Customers should receive an email confirming the app has received their order. If they have an account with you, it should receive an update with the relevant purchase details.
While it’s not part of app testing per se, apps can be aided by good customer acquisition strategies. Guest posts, effective customer support and so on can help get the word out about your business, bolster your reputation and—in turn—give your app more users.
Building an app seems like a daunting prospect, but the business benefits of one are considerable. When an app is accompanied by a careful, thorough approach to app testing, a business can make a significant impact on both its customers and its bottom line.