Executive summary

This article provides an overview of common challenges in software testing for e-commerce websites and presents several methods for addressing these challenges. The text starts by highlighting the pressure that software developers face in today’s rapidly changing world. It then fcuses on the specific difficulties of ensuring that an e-commerce website is able to handle high user traffic. The article then goes on to describe various methods for achieving this, including load testing, stress testing, performance monitoring, scaling, caching, and redundancy. It also mentions specific tools and platforms that can be used for each method, such as Apache JMeter, Gatling, LoadRunner, New Relic, AppDynamics, Datadog, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure. Additionally, the text also explains the importance of testing the website’s responsiveness and compatibility across different browsers and devices, and it provides a good introduction to usability testing and accessibility testing, including methods and tools to be used. Generally, this article gives a good idea on the topic of e-commerce website testing.

Let’s talk about how the world is rapidly changing and why it is important

Nowadays the world is rapidly changing and growing. Sometimes it may feel hard and overwhelming to adapt and adjust to extremely unstable environments for all of us. This is true not only for human beings but also for the softwares out there as well. Some of the newly developped programs won’t run on ten-year-old computers.

New features, new ideas, new user expectations – this is just a short list of things that put pressure on the software developers. Quite often the Quality Lab team encounters situations that the development processes are taking longer than expected and that products are not being released according to the pre-set schedule or with the right anticipated functionality. This might lead to different types of consequences, including user frustration and cost increase.

Well, we do consider that each product is unique and we love making this world of softwares flawless and issueless. So welcome to our industry-specific series of blog posts about common challenges in software testing! And we’re going to kick it off with an e-commerce domain.

Now we can move on to the most common challenges anticipated in software testing for e-commerce

Heavy user traffic

One of the main and important objectives here is ensuring the e-commerce website can handle high user traffic and won’t crash during peak sales periods, for instance during the holiday season, Black Friday or Cyber monday sales.

There are several ways that this can be achieved with:

  • Load testing. This is mainly executed by simulating a high volume of traffic on the website to identify any bottlenecks or performance issues. For instance, if the e-commerce website is not able to handle high volume of users, it can break right there and then resulting in reputational and financial complications. This can be done using load testing tools such as Apache JMeter, Gatling, or LoadRunner. By the way, here is an example of a load testing case from our portfolio that also includes increase in the user traffic due to the annual sale traffic.
  • Stress testing. This is an advanced form of load testing. Most of the time this is a next step after the load testing is performed. The main aim of the stress tests is to identify the maximum capacity of a website by gradually increasing the number of virtual users until the website breaks. To minimize the risks of disturbing current website users, it is better to consider executing this type of testing on the days when the traffic is at its lowest.
  • Performance monitoring. These days it is necessary for businesses to also develop and sustain that competitive advantage and keep their business objectives on the map. Performance testing for e-commerce websites boosts that as it involves tracking the website’s performance metrics such as response time, memory usage, and CPU usage to identify any potential issues. Tools such as New Relic, AppDynamics, or Datadog can be used for this purpose.

Responsiveness and compatability

Another significant challenge for an e-commerce website that is worth considering is the website’s responsiveness and compatibility across different browsers and devices. This is important not only because of the technical aspects, but also because it does influence the business side of an e-commerce website.There are some examples, which demonstrate  negative consequences after skipping this step or not emphasizing it enough. Declining number of website visits is one of those. This may be due to the fact that users simply cannot access the website from a certain device or browser or are unable to use specific features in the mobile version of the website.  This may also lead to user frustration and a decrease in the revenue in a broader perspective.

In order to check website’s compatability we can turn to:

  • Browser testing. Yes, this invovles testing the e-commerce website on different web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer/Edge to ensure that it is compatible, looks as anticipated and functions correctly on every single browser.
  • Cross-browser testing. This is a little deeper than a browser testing option, it includes testing a website not only on different web browsers but also on different browser versions to make sure that it is compatible with them. This can be done manually or using automated tools such as Selenium, Appium, or BrowserStack. Imagine you’re asked about the number of browsers you know and use on your devices. Probably you’ll name at least 5 that you’ve come across throughout your life. However if you google the issue, you’ll find out that there are around 200 various web browsers, some of those are market leaders and some are extremely niche products.
  • Device testing. Similar to the previous browser testing, this is a method of testing an e-commerce website on different devices such as smartphones, tablets, PCs and laptops to ensure that it is compatible and functions as required on every device. This can be done manually or using automated tools such as Appium, BrowserStack or Sauce Labs.

User experience and user friendliness

User-friendliness is another significant thing to pay attention to for an e-commerce website. It directly impacts the user experience and their ability to find what they are looking for. A poor user experience can lead to increased bounce rates, lower conversion rates and negative perceptions of the brand. In addition, poor user experience can also lead to lower search engine rankings as search engines like Google consider user experience as a ranking factor.

There are several ways to check if an e-commerce website is user-friendly

  • The good old usability testing. This implies evaluating a product by testing it with real users. This can be done by recruiting participants and asking them to complete a set of tasks while being observed and/or recorded. Kind of similar to marketing focus groups. The results of the usability testing can help to identify any issues with the website’s navigation, layout or functionality. The analyzed results of this type of activity show the exact layout of the next steps that should be taken not only by developers but also by other teams, including marketing. 
  • Accessibility testing. This is a method of ensuring that the website is accessible to users with disabilities. This can be done by using automated tools such as the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool or by manually testing the website to ensure that it is compliant with accessibility guidelines such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Some estimates suggest that around 5% of users worldwide rely on screen readers to access the web. It’s worth noting that this number is likely to be an undercount, as many users may not self-identify as needing accessibility assistance, while others may use assistive technologies that are not screen readers.
  • The infamous A/B testing, cab ve also reffered to as split testing. This is a method of comparing two versions of a website to determine which one performs better. A/B testing can be used to test different layouts, designs, or features to see which one is more user-friendly. For example, the user traffic of a website is divided into two flows. One group is shown opt A – the main page with a “sign up” button and the second group is shown opt B – the same main page with a “sign up for free” button. At the end of each session the results are summed up and this would demonstrate the winning option

A little bit about the usability bugs

It can be frustrating for both users and sellers, when a buyer enters the online store, browses for desired products and then struggles to figure out how to complete a purchase. It’ll take him less time and less effort to switch to another online store that has clear pictures, an issue-free interface and is easy to navigate. At Quality Lab throughout the years, we’ve accumulated a wealth of knowledge, including the studies about e-commerce websites. We were able to identify top reasons why customers abandon their purchases online, these include complicated, time-consuming or unclear order process, requiring registration to make a purchase, requiring too many personal information during the order process.

Thus, it is significant for testers to pay attention to these types of areas which are particularly vulnerable to bugs and glitches that can cause serious issues. Here is an illustration from our experience how a seemingly minor bug, which could have been easily fixed, led to disastrous results.

While testing an online store that was selling various types of equipment for labs, we encountered a significant issue with the ordering process. Buyers were required to fill out a relatively large form during an order placing process. This form contained two fields, one of which was optional (phone number), one mandatory (delivery address). However the communication with the store manager was necessary to complete the purchase and could only occur if the buyer provided their phone number. This posed a serious problem because the buyer could place an order without providing their phone number, even though it was a crucial piece of information. As a result, the store potentially lost many customers who could not complete their purchases due to this issue.

And about the layout bugs

As it was mentioned before, we’re living in a rapidly changing world. People are relying on online platforms to fulfill their shopping needs. This happens due to a number of different factors, for instance lack of time or personal preferences or due to the variety and mass availability of mobile devices of any class and type. Online shopping is possible nowadays independently of where you are in the world. You can purchase a new TV, new dress or a new book from your smartphone whilst laying on a beach with a nice warm wind in your hair and calming ocean sounds or while catching a “subway break” between those constant meetings even on weekends. This portrays the need to provide a seamless and accessible shopping experience for all online stores. Meaning that an e-commerce website should work on any type of browser or a platform, it should work on any type of device (latest or oldest) and at any screen resolution. 

Even though the layout bugs are not that diverse and mostly affect smaller elements, they still can influence buyer’s behavior and force them to avoid committing a purchase in some cases. Therefore, when testing a layout of a website, key decision points (when the buyer decides whether to continue the purchase process or not) must be taken into account. 

Here is a little example of how a layout bug can prevent a purchase from happening. We encountered a simple but critical bug while testing an online store of luxury cosmetics and perfumes. The issue was related to the wrong positioning of the elements on the page. The product page on a mobile device did not have a “buy now” button, it was located somewhere out of regular screen sight, in order to see that button users had to scroll to the right rather than conveniently move the page up. Though some consumers were scrolling the page to the right, they still “were not making it” to the needed button. After this bug was fixed, the number of purchases made from mobile devices in this online store increased by 15%.


It is evident that e-commerce website testing is a complex process that requires high level of proffesionalism. And by that we mean a comprehensive and strategic approach which involves evaluation of the functioanlity, security, performance and usability of an e-commerce platform. Thus, we do reccomend investing time, effort and resources into these importnant testing practices. Thank you for your time and if you have any suggestions for our new blog posts, please let us know as any feedback is important for us!