Continuous Testing in the Retail Industry

In today’s retail marketplace, digital channels hold a prominent and often central position. Modern software practices emphasize the need for rapid development and deployment. The retail world is no exception to this need for speed. Continuous Testing is a great strategy for getting increasing velocity.

Continuous Testing for Retail

Having worked on both sides of the engineering and management coin, I know the difficulties in arguing for the allocation of resources to Automated Testing and setting up Continuous Testing. To the non-technical manager, it delivers no public-facing feature and no improvement that seems to retain or convert customers. If the software isn’t your product, then why adopt the practices of the software industry?

Four Ideas I Emphasize When Explaining the Benefits of Continuous Testing

There are several reasons for Continuous Testing:

  • Retail software needs to constantly evolve
  • The customer experience needs to be guaranteed
  • Human testing isn’t enough
  • Time and resource savings from early bug detection

Let’s explore these in order to understand where Continuous Testing fits within the retail industry.

1. Retail Software Needs to Constantly Evolve

One of the big differences between software and more traditional products is that software is constantly changing. Like a shark, software development has to keep moving forward—or the product will die. Traditional products have high upfront costs to ensure their quality. All of the testing happens before the product is released. You can’t change the design of the shoe that is already in the customer’s closet. With the majority of software products, we are not only able—but obligated—to continue to evolve the product after its release. One of the great business advantages of this is that we can very quickly develop a minimum viable product that sales and marketing can get in front of the public for feedback. We can and do make major changes after release, whether it’s a redesigned UI, an improvement to our machine learning algorithm, or vast improvements in the ability to scale. Imagine if a car manufacturer called you and told you they have completely redesigned the engine for your car—not for new models in the future, but the car you’ve already been driving for 2 years.

The demands of retail require this ability to change as much as any industry. The nature of the industry is to be time-sensitive. There are holidays, sales, and new product lines that can’t wait for long development cycles. Think about the speed with which a brick and mortar store changes its atmosphere to reflect marketing needs, whether it’s a new window display, a different banner hanging outside, or new artwork inside. Digital channels need to evolve just as quickly—a Christmas redesign of your app which isn’t ready for release until January is both wasted effort and lost opportunity.

Increasing the velocity of releases is one of the benefits of Continuous Testing. Once your test system is set up to run tests with every change, your developers can push changes faster. They get immediate feedback on whatever new changes they introduce, rather than waiting for human QA.

2. The Customer Experience Needs to be Guaranteed

One of the advantages of digital channels in retail is the ease with which a customer can access your products. They expect to be able to shop anytime, anywhere, and this is what we strive to give them. Hand-in-hand with this ease of use is the flexibility to move on quickly to a competitor. We should expect them to be fickle if we don’t deliver an excellent experience. Slow apps, bugs, downtime, and security concerns can drive them away and leave them with a lasting bad impression.

With Continuous Testing, we can be constantly checking our software for regressions, bugs, and performance problems. Catching bugs early in our process reduces the chance they will make it into production. The confidence that Continuous Testing brings also allows for faster experimentation, and a tighter feedback loop with the customer as release velocity increases. Overall, customer experience with fewer bugs and performance and security issues coupled with better reaction to customer feedback is part of the promise of Continuous Testing.

3. Human Testing Isn’t Enough

Software systems are like an old sweater—pulling a thread in one sleeve could lead to a hole in the collar. Changes in software can have unforeseen side effects. For tests to truly bring us protection, they must be comprehensive. They must be repeated often. The nature of this kind of work is repetitive and prone to error when performed by humans. It’s better to use software to our advantage by coding repetitive, boring tasks into test suites which we can run automatically. This has the added advantage of freeing up human QA for more human-based testing—testing user experience. So with Continuous Testing, we can both improve the quality of our test runs and free up humans to improve the customer experience.

4. Time and Resource Savings From Early Bug Detection

One of the advantages of Continuous Testing is the saving of time and resources. In historical software development, the bulk of QA happens once there is a release candidate. The release must then be held up while corrections are made—corrections which may be difficult or impossible due to multiple, concurrent feature changes. By running tests earlier and often, we can detect bugs before bundling new features together. The developer can see that changes are needed, or that a feature needs to be redesigned before investments have been made in other features. Detecting bugs early means that they can be corrected with less effort and without wasting the time of other teams.


Modern retail depends on digital channels and requires these channels to be reliable. It also requires a constantly improving customer experience or your customers will go elsewhere. Continuous Testing improves the ability to deliver both.

Sauce Labs
Sauce Labs is the company enterprises trust to deliver digital confidence. More than 3 billion tests have been run on the Sauce Labs Continuous Testing Cloud, the most comprehensive and trusted testing platform in the world. Sauce Labs enables organizations to increase revenue and grow their digital business by creating new routes to market, protecting their brand from the risks of a poor user experience, and delivering better products to market, faster.

The Related Post

D. Richard Kuhn – Computer Scientist, National Institute of Standards & Technology LogiGear: How did you become interested in developing applications for combinatorial research? What led you to it personally, and what did you find fascinating about it? Mr. Kuhn: About 12 years ago Dolores Wallace and I were investigating causes of software failures in ...
Budget-friendly planning and management tools—plus a few others. I have been researching sources of test tools and other resources that are inexpensive or free. In some cases, you get what you pay for. However, it is possible to automate some or a lot of your testing using these tools. The good news is that the ...
Much has been written over the past few years about SMAC—Social, Mobile, Analytics and the Cloud—as the new platform with exponential growth. In this article we will answer the question: what is this and what does it mean to software testing? What is SMAC?
A tool empowering you to reach your automation successIn case you haven’t heard, earlier this month we launched TestArchitect Team, the new, free, test automation tool that empowers testers to achieve automation success.
The pervasive use of Agile methodologies has changed the way that development teams work. With this change, new tools and vendors have entered the traditional application life-cycle arena. A recent evaluation of this trend was published by Forrester Research, the “Agile Development Managements Tools Forrester Wave” report. Key observations of the report: Tools have changed ...
Check out the top 12 Automation tools with pros and cons–like Cross-Operating Systems, Cross-Automation Platforms, Programming Language Support, and more – for desktop Automation Testing. Although the demand for desktop app testing is not growing as fast as mobile and web app testing, it’s still a crucial day-to-day duty for many testers, especially those who ...
December Issue 2019: Tester Profile – Real World Stories
What is Automated Test and Retest (ATRT)? IDT’s ATRT Test Manager addresses the complex testing challenges of mission critical systems by providing an innovative technical solution that solves the unique testing problems associated with this domain.It provides an integrated solution that can be applied across the entire testing lifecycle.
To adapt with the fast software delivery pace in today’s world, the same automation test suites should be able to run on a range of various platforms: different Operation System versions, different Application under test versions, different localization versions, etc. All while keeping the test development and maintenance effort at the minimum.
With the new release of Selenium late last fall, it was viewed as a saving grace to many test teams. The launch of the upgrade came with the bonuses and testing tools most had been waiting for, but unfortunately there was still a kink in Selenium’s armor: the Firefox browser.
 A clear practice with the support of tools will help teams be more successful in delivering done products. It is always challenging to create a piece of a software system that fulfills a customer need, ready for use. Especially when it should be realized in an iteration of just three weeks, from an idea to ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay in the loop with the lastest
software testing news