Testing the Wave – A Tester’s view of The Forrester Wave reports on B2C Commerce and B2B Commerce Suites – Part I

Forrester released its 2017 version of the Forrester WaveTM analysis of the B2C and B2B platform suite last month.  The report details what customers are looking for in eCommerce platforms and how they are buying these.

In the author’s words, “This report shows how each provider measures up and helps eBusiness and channel strategy professionals make the right choice.”

I however, chose to look at it with a different point of view. Of a tester responsible for making sure that the “right choice” actually “works right”.

More than just Shopping Carts

In this first of three blog posts I will focus on some of the capabilities that customers are demanding from eCommerce Platform vendors and implications of having to test for these capabilities.

Omni-Channel Engagement

Companies want to engage their customers on mobile, social and in the store with the same ease as they do on the Web. And they want this engagement to flow seamlessly across all these channels.  As a tester, your work just got a lot more complicated.  You no longer just have to test the user’s experience on a single web site, but you have to be able to simulate (and validate) this experience across the mobile site, POS systems used in-store and social engagement platforms. 

Here are a couple of things you can do to accomplish this :

  • Avoid the temptation to keep your tests short and within a single application. Make sure your test scenarios span user experience across the applications/systems driving various channels. 
  • Make sure that your test data and test scenario flows cover all possible combinations of omni-channel use.  You never know which path your customers end up taking, and you want to make sure that their experience is perfect.

Full Spectrum Selling

As more companies provide B2B buying online, customers want the flexibility to buy online, call in or fax in (is anyone still using this) an order, or use a combination of these methods to complete their order.  [Note: While the report did not cover machine-to-machine ordering and fulfillment, these too play a large role in B2B commerce.]

As a tester you have to make sure that the flow of orders and the experience of the customer across these channels works great.  Just as in the case of omni-channel testing, you have to make sure that your test scenarios span the use of all channels and can integrate with machine-to-machine transactions with ease.  This is an area that can get complicated if you are only doing manual testing and may require that you look into automation solutions to handle these.

Personalized Digital Commerce Experiences

Companies are looking to personalize their customer’s digital experience by providing them buying options and incentives based on their purchase preferences, location or by timing these offer correctly.  These solutions combine two main aspects that place great demands on testing – Customer data that fuels the experience and the front-end experience of the customer that is driven based off this data.  Testing these personalized digital experiences requires a strong data driven testing approach using robust and representative test data to simulate all possible experiences

  • Testing the personalization options built into the eCommerce solution will require you to simulate a variety of customer data (profiles). Your test data should include a large test data set covering all combinations of customer preference/behavior/location etc.
  • You should then be able to include data on the corresponding customer experience that has to be validated. 
  • Finally, your ability to test this multitude of combinations accurately, at scale, with efficiency is critical to a successful implementation of personalized digital experiences.

In the next part of this series we will explore how machine learning and AI concepts are making their way into eCommerce and the impact of moving Commerce to the Cloud. 

Stay tuned!