Special considerations for E-commerce Testing

By | July 7, 2014

E-commerce sites and apps present unique challenges for software testers. Not only do they come into contact with very sensitive information that must be secured, but they are also interfaces through which customers can directly interact with businesses.

It goes without saying that thorough testing is required before going live with any project, but with e-commerce it’s prudent to maintain focus on a few areas in particular.


Between the Heartbleed Bug, security breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus, and other high-profile retailers, IT security is very much a hot topic these days, and shouldn’t go unnoticed during the testing phase.

Image Source: http://www.cbc.ca

Anytime you deal with credit card numbers and other personal information, keeping it all secure should be your priority above all else. From a testing perspective, confirm that all private data is encrypted. To safeguard your site from attacks, test to make sure that user input is validated and able to stand up to common threats like SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS)

Usability, User experience, and Performance

Solid e-commerce testing requires you to really step into the shoes of the user. After all, user experience can and will have a direct effect on sales and subsequently impact the bottom line.

Think about what the user would want to see in regards to image(s), price, description, delivery information, etc. Many sites and apps now incorporate features that allow users to zoom in on and rotate images, or dynamically calculate delivery fees. Scrutinize these features carefully ensure that they perform up to user expectations.

Of course, it’s also vital to test usability across major browsers and device types where applicable. For e-commerce sites, this translates into testing popular browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera. Remember to not just test the latest version of each browser, but also focus efforts on what end users actually have on their devices. Take a look at these June 2014 browser usage figures from w3counter.com:

Data Source: http://www.w3counter.com

Data Source: http://www.w3counter.com

Included in the list of top ten browsers are four versions of Internet Explorer, two versions of Safari, and two versions of Firefox.

One final component of the user experience that shouldn’t be ignored is site speed and performance. Design load and performance tests based on your audience and expected audience for future scalability. For some sites and apps, this may mean testing across various regions.


E-commerce is unique in that it tends to be very dynamic and requires a certain level of adaptability. To save future headaches, it’s advantageous to design a site or app that can stand up to the rigours of frequent content changes and updates. When testing, keep an eye out for how the site or app handles adding, editing, and deleting products, displaying featured or sale products, as well as features like promotion and discount codes.

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About Cheylene Thongkham

Cheylene Thongkham is a London-based technical writer and experienced software tester. She earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2007 and an ISTQB certification in 2010. After working as a web application tester in the US, Cheylene assumed the role of Senior QA Analyst at a FTSE 250 company in London where she oversaw testing for mobile websites, business intelligence, and Oracle databases. She is currently working towards becoming an Oracle Certified Professional.