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Cloud Services / Observability

How Shifting Left Can Prepare You for Black Friday

By setting up robust testing strategies, companies can feel confident about anticipated and unexpected traffic, and better handle all shoppers.
Sep 30th, 2022 10:00am by
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With summer winding down, it can be hard to think about shopping for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. But the holiday season is quickly approaching. Development teams must start planning and testing their mobile apps and websites early and often, since over 165 million people shopped during this tight timeframe in 2021 and some reports show that 63% of shoppers take advantage of pre-Thanksgiving sales. 

Digital transformation has ushered in a new era of customer expectations for the services and experiences they receive from brands, placing a significant emphasis on mobile and web channel performance. The modernization and advancement of these technologies require additional testing and strategic approaches to ensure a beat is never missed. Development teams’ continuous testing of tools ahead of Black Friday will drive better UX by simulating realistic patterns — scaling up to two million virtual users — which will enable them to enter the shopping season confident that the user experience and backend performance will be successful.

Shifting Left in the Development Life Cycle 

As the importance of testing grows, so does the concept of shift-left testing. Testing earlier allows for more opportunities to scrutinize every change, increasing one’s readiness to perform well. Shift-left testing is a proven approach that drives performance improvements, greater accessibility and API automation earlier in the development lifecycle.

For Black Friday testing, shift-left approaches can effectively use mocking services, large-scale test data, and virtual user simulation to help predict website readiness before the event. This creates more opportunities for load testing designed to replicate user habits, reducing and often eliminating bottlenecks.

At Perforce, we have both BlazeMeter and Perfecto — two recent acquisitions — to help ensure success with shift-left and continuous testing strategies — BlazeMeter’s BlazeData helps teams who may be missing testing data for real-world scenarios, and Perfecto allows companies to create and execute their tests faster, on a greater scale and with better test coverage. 

Introducing a variety of functional, performance, security, API and accessibility testing is a fundamental pillar for online shopping user experiences and business outcomes. Teams need to consider the various tests to run throughout the development life cycle with the shift-left approach. This includes load tests (behavior with expected load), stress tests (capacity limits), isolated tests (to see if known errors are fixed), spike tests (abrupt load generated) and soak tests (holding continuous load). By running various tests, teams can push the limits of what’s possible and ensure systems are ready. 

Your Go-To Checklist for Black Friday Testing 

Avoiding outages and delays during peak shopping times — and all times, for that matter — is one of the most important aspects of 21st-century shopping for customer experiences. At Perfecto and BlazeMeter, the teams enable customers to master the Black Friday experience with the right strategies, tools and processes to run performance tests across mobile and web devices. Here is a go-to checklist to prepare your online and digital channels for the holiday season:

  • Verify consistency for all channels. Item pricing and information like SKUs or the return policy must be consistent across all platforms. 
  • Test a complete end user journey of the app across web and mobile platforms. Cover all your bases with new and legacy releases (e.g., iOS 16 and iOS15, 14), smartphones, foldables and browsers.
  • Review the “add to cart” user process and go through the checkout motions. When shoppers review their carts, it’s critical that product availability, item accuracy and sale prices are all accurate and accounted for. Creating the most seamless checkout processes reduces the number of abandoned checkouts, so test the experience from start to finish. 
  • Add promotional codes and try the payment processes. Before the biggest shopping period of the year, ensuring that the payment process works for all payment methods available to shoppers is one of the most important elements to test over and over — this is not an area you want to find issues with. It’s also important to confirm your holiday deals and discount codes work how they are intended to. 
  • Stress-test your app — and entire omnichannel approach. Mobile apps are quickly becoming popular avenues for holiday shopping, requiring teams to consider the response and page load times, stability and scalability. Don’t silo your efforts to one channel. Instead, ensure that all of the omnichannel platforms available to consumers create seamless experiences every time. 
  • Analyze the login and email experiences. Whether you are dealing with a returning customer or a net-new one, the login process must have minimal friction to ensure that customers can be best positioned to become loyal to your brand. You also want to ensure that newsletters, promotional codes and order notifications reach customers’ inboxes. Don’t ignore these small steps or risk the user experience suffering. 

Here’s to Your Best Black Friday Yet

By setting up robust testing strategies that provide quick feedback, enhanced reporting and continuous improvement, companies can restore outages more seamlessly, feel confident about anticipated and unexpected traffic, and better handle all shoppers. The worst thing teams can do is sideline these efforts or not do enough. So long as testing is front and center of your Black Friday plans, you can have your best shopping season. 

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