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Re-platforming? 5 ways web testing can prevent a fall in revenues

Posted by Richard Blundell on Thursday 20 July 2017

Over the last few weeks, BugFinders have been contacted by two different leading e-commerce retailers who were both experiencing the same problem. In simple terms, both businesses had recently re-platformed and both had experienced an uncomfortable fall in e-commerce revenues from mobile platforms since launch.

BugFinders responded by launching immediate SOS crowd sourced tests on each site and thankfully, we were able to uncover the issues within just a few days. Hundreds of thousands of pounds in sales have now been saved. So, what can organisations who are thinking of or have started re-platforming do to make sure this doesn’t happen to them?

In previous blog posts, we’ve highlighted how conducting better web testing strategies can significantly improve customer loyalty and protect vital revenue streams. The same issues apply to re-platforming; so here are five testing strategies that can help eliminate lost sales and help you retain brand loyalty post re-platforming.

1) User experience is a priority - start early

An existing customer will be used to navigating your site in a very specific way; re-platforming may well change the way your customer engages with your site, and not necessarily for the better. Doing thorough usability testing with real customer demographics right at the start of the re-platforming process will make you aware of how customers interact with the most important parts of your site and this will help guide the re-platforming designs.

One company that failed to do this correctly was Marks and Spencer, a major retailer in the UK. After a major re-platform, customers experienced numerous problems, including being unable to register, retrieve lost passwords and intuitively navigate the site. To make matters worse, some of the customers experiencing registration problems were existing customers trying to re-register on the new platform. Ultimately, this led to a decrease in sales and an increase in unhappy clients.

These problems associated with re-platforming could have been avoided with a thorough testing strategy. Better customer feedback and gleaning expertise from specialists would have prevented the loss in sales and customer backlash, while still improving the customer conversion rate that they aimed for with the re-platform.

It’s also important not to forget to bring users in at the end of the re-platforming process as well as at the beginning. Their feedback will be invaluable and will help guide your communications strategy at the relaunch.

2) Make sure you cover all devices

It’s critical that you make sure you do some deep analysis around the devices your customers are using to access your site – both historically and moving forwards. Gone are the days when all you needed to do was check your platform worked on the latest iPhone or Android device.

Web Testing

Today, most companies estimate that to cover 80% of their revenue or engagement, they need to cover more than 250 different devices. It is also now widely recognised that there are over 24,000 different devices and OS configurations out there. Checking on too small a number means of devices leaves large holes in coverage, and could result in big losses. It is therefore critical you check your new platform works on as many of these as possible. Let’s not also forget browsers and tablets. The image below expertly shows just how many different devices are out there.

Web Testing

Pay real attention to the long tail of the device coverage here – once added together they may end up amounting to a big section of your target market.

3) Bring fresh eyes to the re-platforming project

It’s almost inevitable that your development and design teams have burnt a great deal of midnight oil poring over the re-platform project. Sometimes these teams can be too close to the project and may not be able to spot a fundamental flaw in the way it is works for users.

Bringing in a team of external testers is an excellent way of killing two birds with one stone. Firstly, they bring fresh insight to your plans and can challenge any assumptions that are being made about how the site/app should work. And ideally, they can build you a bulletproof test plan which makes sure you have all and any critical and conversion issues fixed before you go live.

4) Does the site work everywhere in the world?

Localisation web testing is also crucial to ensuring a drama free relaunch in all your markets. If you have a global marketplace you need to make sure your new platform works in every location you are trading in.

  • Does the site translate properly?
  • Have you inadvertently offended some potential new customers?
  • What is the sites performance like – especially in areas where connectivity is slower than in the UK?

All this needs to be checked by real humans on the ground – there are some excellent solutions out there.

5) Shift your testing 'to the left'

Why wait until the end of the project to know where the issues are? Agile development is the way to go, but all too often, testing is still delivered in a broad waterfall model. This means issues are found at the end of the project, potentially putting the launch at risk, but at best making it tricky for the development team to resource the fixes and putting them under immense pressure – when mistakes can happen.

Ensure that you build into the plan regular testing cycles after each agile build. Ensure that there is a UAT phase to ensure that everyone agrees that this is how things should work – and most importantly, get a user view at these key points.

This means bringing in your customers and prospective customers to highlight any issues that they think affect their experience. There’s nothing worse than receiving feedback from your customers within the first few days of your new site that the platform is full of bugs and difficult to use. Bad feedback is hard to eradicate and statistics show that 75% of your customers will just go elsewhere to shop.

All these testing strategies will hopefully help you improve conversion rates when you re-platform, rather than dropping the rate.  Don’t accept adequate.

For more information on how to revolutionise your web testing process, be sure to download our latest eBook now.

Web Testing