Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most important days of the holiday shopping season. To prevent any unexpected surprises during the biggest shopping season of the year, retailers need to understand how their website and mobile applications will respond to a major and sudden surge of traffic. Any delays in loading pages and unexpected timeouts will result in frustrated shoppers abandoning their carts or shopping elsewhere.
So, to prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is crucial for retailers to test their websites and perform mobile app testing to ensure a smooth shopping experience. In this blog, we will deep-dive into how occasions like Black Friday and Cyber Monday can impact sales and how you can gear up for the occasion by testing your eCommerce websites and applications considering different parameters.
So, let’s get started
The Evolution of Black Friday and Cyber Monday
In 2010, a popular marketing company Hitwise reported the following statement:
“For the 2nd consecutive year, Black Friday was the highest day for retail traffic during the holiday season, followed by Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. The highest year-over-year increases in visits took place on Cyber Monday and Black Friday with the growth of 16% and 13%, respectively.”
A statement that summarizes the popular culture followed from the past. For readers from countries other than the United States, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the terms more popularised in the 2000s and especially around the 2010s. Today, in 2021, they are one of the biggest sales offerings in online stores in multiple countries. However, “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” have been picked up just by the societal trends with no intentional ignition from anyone.
Thanksgiving is generally considered the start of the annual shopping season in the United States. It is a holiday that is always celebrated on a Thursday. In the 1950s, when people would go to their respective homes to celebrate this day, they would often stay there for the “long” weekend by calling in sick on their work. This deserted the factories on the following Friday and resulted in the term “Black Friday” coined by the Engineering Magazine. All these people with their families would go out on this day to shop with them. Hence the shopping culture on Black Friday started, and this is followed till today, evident by this Amazon’s page in the United States:
This is Myntra’s homepage in India.
This is Woolworth’s homepage in Australia:
And this is Cdiscount’s homepage in France:
This has become a global phenomenon today. Thanks to the U.S. retailers that have expanded their stores worldwide and global advanced digitalization. It’s a consumer’s paradise. But what about the developers and the testers and all the people behind presenting this platform to you on your mobiles, tablets, desktops, laptops, TVs, and everything that connects to the internet.
How significant are Black Friday and Cyber Monday for online retailers?
Over the years, Black Friday has picked up as an important day for shoppers in the United States and worldwide for the last 10-15 years. So, how big is this event that companies have to prepare in advance for it?
In 2020, consumers in the United States spent 6.3 million US dollars per minute on Black Friday. The total spendings in just one day were 9 billion US dollars in the United States alone. In comparison, Cyber Monday saw 10.8 billion US dollars spent on a single day. Just so you know how big this number is, 51 countries had lesser GDP than this in 2017. What started as a day for shopping for specific items such as clothes, accessories, electronics, etc., has now turned into a full-fledged “Sale” day for every type of domain, including groceries.
The pandemic of 2020 has also played an important part in increased shopping spending per user. While many people worked from home and saved money, a lot of businesses started selling through online mediums as physical stores were shut down and people refrained from going out.
For a platform providing products to the customer, this day might be the biggest day of the year to bump up stats, revenue and grab the opportunity to grow. A survey by eMarketer predicted that 73% of all sales will happen digitally through mobile devices now. It is good to know facts, but we must also account for companies emerging on the internet and competing on this day with each other.
Another important factor that plays a significant role for businesses is to increase their user base. A lot of the websites do offer a sign-up-free experience to the user for faster checkout. But this does not mean they don’t capture the email address. They do and use it frequently to update the user for any products and offerings in the future. It increases the user base, which is an important metric to show how popular you are. Since Black Friday and Cyber Monday attract majorly through prices, people do not hesitate to sign up to grab that once-in-a-year deal.
How significant are Black Friday and Cyber Monday for testing?
The majority of the users often compare the price of a product on multiple websites to be sure they are paying the minimum price available. So, they often switch back and forth and share links and rush to purchase the item, fearing the products might not last long. Imagine your website providing the best discount among all your competitors, but it goes down due to heavy load in the peak hours. Will the user wait for the website to come online or book the second-best option they have?
Anticipating these types of situations is extremely important if you are in the business of selling products online. Razelle Gazette quoted the following referring to the businesses not being prepared for what is about to come on Black Friday:
“A number of major retailers’ websites went down as they failed to cope with the surge in Black Friday traffic in 2017 … This just highlights that some retailers have not taken the necessary steps to prepare for Black Friday. Failing to prepare for peak can cause poor performance, site downtime, and ultimately lost revenue for retailers.”
If you don’t want yourself to be inside this pool of retailers, we have a few checkpoints for you. Consider these checkpoints as important as your marketing decisions on this day. Since no marketing, discount, or promotion would work unless your web application or mobile app is smooth for the end-user, these points should serve as essential steps as part of your preparation that includes development and testing.
Testing Checklist for a Better Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Each year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday fuel a record-breaking frenzy for both consumers and retailers. With the right strategies in place, your team can prepare to keep your service running smoothly throughout the busiest shopping days of the year.
Here is a checklist of all the things we test before we go live on Black Friday and Cyber Monday:
Get ready for heavy traffic
“We are seeing strong growth as consumers continue to move shopping from offline to online this year. New consoles, phones, smart devices, and TVs that are traditional Black Friday purchases are sharing online shopping cart space this year with unorthodox Black Friday purchases such as groceries, clothes, and alcohol that would previously have been purchased in-store,” said Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights
As per Semrush’s Black Friday Statistics 2020, the global traffic per month visualizing how the traffic spikes up during Black Friday in November:
Around 8 billion customers visited online platforms in search of their favorite product. The question to ask through this graph is, “will my website be able to withstand such a sudden spike in traffic?”. There is only one way you can answer this though – by testing it yourself before Black Friday.
Simulate heavy traffic with a load testing solution
With load testing, we can intentionally increase the traffic in the testing environment and find out the threshold of our overall system. This may include your server threshold, hardware threshold, network, etc. Although in the case of Black Friday, your threshold should be the minimum traffic anticipated. Black Friday traffic trend shows an increase of 21.6% year on year. So you can calculate this with reference to last year’s traffic and set it as a minimum threshold.
Get ready for multiple devices
Test your devices across multiple devices and platforms
Testing on multiple devices becomes extremely important on days such as Black Friday and Cyber Mondays. The best way to choose here is cross browser testing and cross platform testing. Cross browser testing allows you to run your web application on multiple devices ranging from desktops to tablets to smartphones. You can further speed up things by performing Selenium automation testing. Of course, it depends on the platform you have chosen to run cross browser tests on. An optimal platform can provide you with the option of both cross browser testing and cross platform testing (for running mobile apps on different OS). You can go through the guide on testing websites on different browsers to understand the basics and methods to achieve the same.
Also read – What is Selenium?
Get ready for synchronized browsing
A synchronised browsing experience is important to maintain a consistent experience on all the devices that a user is connected to. For instance, consider the following test case. A user is browsing through the products on your website on his desktop. Now his friend sends him a link to another product on an instant messaging application on mobile. The user explores it on the mobile view and decides to buy. So, the test case gets interesting here. If a user adds this product to the cart, it should be reflected on his desktop or other devices. Otherwise, it becomes too hard for a user to search for the same product with the same specification on a different device and too easy to abandon it.
Test your devices across multiple browsers & devices combination
This can easily be tested with multiple devices and the same account. However, keep testing it under various conditions to find any defects. Selenium testing tools like LambdaTest can help you thoroughly perform cross browser compatibility testing and ensure your products work across all browsers, operating systems, and devices.
Get ready for synchronized catalog
While the previous section is from the perspective of an end-user, we need to test the synchronized system from the server point of view too. Of course, the buyers and sellers both try their best to grab and provide the best deal. But sellers have a limited quantity of products with them, and they declare this before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
With such heavy traffic, the product catalog needs to be updated, so users do not believe that the product exists even though all the quantities have been sold. This is important on normal days too, but when thousands of clicks are happening on “Add to Cart” from around that country, you need to be extra cautious.
Test your catalog manually
Testing this is not an easy job, and frankly, I think there are so many scenarios that it is hard to predict them all. For example, a user can abandon the product at the payment page without deleting it from the cart at all. One of the strategies is analyzing the quantity at regular intervals. This can be initiated by multiple testers considering the same product for parameters other than quantity also such as price, location availability, etc.
Get ready for perfect discount coupons
Now our application is ready for high traffic with accurate quantity and price of the item. The next stage is the “Apply Coupon” stage. A lot of the companies prefer a pre-applied discount on selected items as part of their Black Friday sale. This is done to reduce the time from “Add to cart” to “Order processed.” The less time a user takes, the fewer combinations you have to take into consideration in the previous section. A good example of this is Walmart:
But that does not go for all the companies. A few of the companies offer multiple coupon codes such as applicable on a few credit cards etc. It might happen that a user would want to avail a deal that would cost him even less through the other method. So, a few companies provide Black Friday coupon codes separately as such:
Perform UI/UX testing on coupons
In such cases, you need to make the user experience absolutely smooth as the time is less and traffic is high. Testing for your coupon code is one of the priorities on the Black Day offer. For example, would you want your user to enter the code in capital letters? Your user also should not be able to club multiple offers on the same product. You can also test for credits and coupon combinations if that exists on your web application etc.
Also read – Devising A UI Test Plan That Works Like A Charm
Get ready for multiple payment options
The last stage and a tricky stage in completing the order is the payment options. Tricky because you have no control over it. You are not managing the gateway servers, not managing their APIs, and not managing a user’s preference. Payment is an independent entity in the whole application atmosphere. So, what can we do at our end so that our Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales wrap up without any hiccups?
I have always admired Zomato’s, an Indian food delivery startup, approach in this case. This is the payment list they provide:
Some of the options above even have nested options. I am convinced that no user can return from this point in the absence of their payment method. Such an approach has multiple advantages. First, the user gets the option he wants. Second, if any of the payment gateways are down, there is no problem. Third, the user will have plenty more.
Test your payment methods for different networks and APIs
As a tester, test for all these payment methods regularly and repeatedly. Verify if they can take the load and multiple simultaneous payments. Check for these methods by throttling the network to different bandwidths such as 2G, 3G, and 5G. You should also check all these options for both the website and the mobile application (if you have any).
The best method is to choose an online tool that can provide app testing as well as web testing features to test on different network conditions on multiple devices. LambdaTest is a player in the same domain. Providing a user with 2000+ screens and mobile app testing features can easily help you prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Get ready for new merchants
Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are seen as opportunities to expand the business and earn more money, especially after digitalization. You just need to submit your product to Amazon or any other platform. Small businesses often prepare themselves for this day and design a variety of products for everyone’s needs. As per the stats by Business Insider, around 70000 global exporters joined Amazon’s platform with 52000 new products just for the black day and cyber Monday sales. It’s great news for Amazon and any platform welcoming sellers to give more and more options to the end-user. The problem lies in the product.
Test your products with internationalization and localization testing
When so many new merchants with so many new products join a platform, regulating the system becomes hard. No platform would want to violate legal rules and regulations and sell something not allowed in a country or a region. This demands careful and exhaustive testing from the testers. The best way is to go with a newly designed automation system to detect suspicious items from the list. Internationalization and Localization testing seem a perfect fit for such cases after identifying the product. Later, they can be manually verified and be submitted into the system.
Get ready for the biggest day of the year
Cyber Monday is a new term coined 10 years back for the people looking for discounted offers on products left from the Black Friday weekend. Since most of these products were offered digitally, the term “cyber” got attached to the trend. Anyways, the “which one is bigger” question has lost its meaning because of major retailers offering the sale from Thanksgiving till Cyber Monday continuously. To increase their overall revenue, retailers generally keep different products for sales on different days.
This all requires huge planning and a large team to work continuously to give a smooth experience to the user. This post tried to highlight all the issues on the web application for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In addition, it discusses the testing strategies that can help in providing a bug-free mobile app and website. I hope this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, every platform provides its best deals, best infrastructure, and thoroughly testing applications.
Published on Java Code Geeks with permission by Harish Rajora, partner at our JCG program. See the original article here: How To Test Websites And Apps For Black Friday And Cyber Monday
Opinions expressed by Java Code Geeks contributors are their own.