According Forrester Research US eCommerce will top $300 billion this year and majority of that happens around Holiday Shopping season from mid-November to end of December. This 6 week period is crunch time for every retail, eCommerce and travel company but increasingly specific Holiday releases of many media and entertainment products are released to cater to this peak in demand.
Additionally due to the sheer number of traffic and transactions, the payment companies need to take significant efforts to ensure that everything works without any glitches. The pace of growth during this period is also staggering. IBM reports 16% year on year growth on US online sales and when you compound the ever increasing proportion of the online traffic coming from smartphones and tablets (up to 50% in 2014), it is clear that you have to ensure that both your mobile apps and your mobile web presence are 100% ready to perform at their peak throughout this important season – after all you don’t want to end up in headlines like Best Buy did last year.
How you need to prepare?
You can divide your preparation activities in to three stages that follow each other in slightly overlapping fashion. Note that successful completion of the previous stage will enable you to get more out of the next stage and in that way make your preparations more complete, scalable and reusable.
Stage One: Functional and Device Compatibility Testing (6-10 weeks before Thanksgiving)
The very first stage of preparedness is to ensure that any new version of your app or web service is thoroughly tested for all basic functionality., We recommend building a comprehensive test automation suite built for both native apps and web sites. Design the suite so that it can be successfully executed against a wide variety of real target devices. This stage can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks depending on desired functional and device coverage, the number of issues uncovered during this testing cycle and the release velocity to fix uncovered issues.
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Stage Two: Performance and Load Testing (2-6 weeks before Thanksgiving)
The next stage in getting your end to end service to full Holiday Preparedness is to take the full or partial automated Functional Testing suite that was prepared in stage one and use additional instrumentation and tools to provide very detailed insight into your integrated end to end system’s performance under different kinds of usage scenarios and load situations. It is advisable to run a baseline of your application’s performance first under several basic usage scenarios and then create synthetic load against your back-end and compare the results to see whether your app or web site stays responsive enough under significant server load. Again, this stage can take anything from 2 to 6 weeks depending on number of usage scenarios covered and on the amount of desired simulated server load (there really isn’t an upper limit here).
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Stage Three: Proactive Production Monitoring (From 2 weeks before Thanksgiving until Valentine’s day)
The final stage in ensuring that you are able to capitalize all your development, marketing and testing efforts is set up a proactive synthetic real device monitoring system for your app and web site to ensure that the most current version of your app is performing correctly at all times. Real users should be able to reach your back end and complete the most important use cases (logins, transactions, subscribing/unsubscribing and fetching content) reliably and within acceptable time limits consistently. This final phase ensures that any fixes or last minute changes do not break anything in the end-to-end production environment. Alerting should be built in to the system in cases where acceptable performance is not being met.
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Also issues with any integrations that rely on any third party services (such as logins, transaction, content delivery, ads) that can be otherwise difficult to notice immediately can be very easily identified with real time synthetic monitoring. Again, you are able to reuse the most important part of your functional test suite created in Phase 1. This stage will start a few weeks before the expected peak time (right after you have completed the load and performance testing) and will continue ideally all the way until Valentine’s day when the Holiday season winds down.
How prepared are you?
Now after, looking into this timeline chart and mapping your planned activities and development resources for the 2015 Holiday Shopping Season, take a minute to evaluate how prepared you and your organization are for the most important revenue generation period of the year. If you feel that you could use some help in getting prepared during crunch time you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can will help you maximize your mobile revenues for 2015 with proven testing technology and services.