QA's Role in Enhancing Application Performance During Holiday Sales
Thanksgiving is just days away, and with online sales maturing every year—in regards to ease of online shopping, the overall shopping experience, the range of deals and offers, and the increasing number of retailers that participate—Thanksgiving sales are now not only a Black Friday or a Cyber Monday event but also something that runs during most of November. This year is no exception. Forecasters suggest an increase in online sales by 6 to 8 percent, while also expecting sales to cross one hundred billion dollars.
With such huge volumes of sales happening within a short period of time, the availability and performance of applications is one parameter that is closely tracked. A lot of performance testing is specifically focused on the high volume Thanksgiving sales, but despite all efforts, this is one area several retailers falter on. Such failings adversely impacting their brand reputation and causes retailers to lose out on precious sale days.
So what are some of the problem areas for peak load performance test efforts? First, most organizations still use obsolete benchmarks. A performance test effort is often more of an overhead item than one of any relevance, especially given the volume of effort it takes from planning to implementation. Making sure the benchmarks and business goals are in line with the latest industry requirements and user expectations is the first important aspect to consider in the test strategy.
Additionally, QA should look at increasing testing on mobile devices and platforms. Several studies show that usage numbers are drastically shifting towards mobile device use during online sale promotions. In 2014, mobile sales increased by 25 percent over the previous year, and these numbers are only going to rise in the future.
Finally, since performance engineering is a very vast space, despite all the planning and testing that occurs, failures cannot be completely ruled out. QA should increasingly focus on how to recover from any failures and how to maintain transparency during failures via error messages and alternate routes for shopping. These efforts will help re-establish trust with end users.
Tips on how to maximize deals while shopping during this holiday season are readily available. Amid all of this buzz, REI and other retailers recently made a bold call to remain closed on Black Friday. Thanks to the improved performance of online applications year over year and the role of QA in supporting their performance, increased online sales are enabling retailers to make such calls.