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In the face of lockdown, communities around the world have become increasingly reliant on the digital economy to deliver everything they need from basic groceries to life’s little luxuries. As the crisis drags on, though, even more users are migrating online to fulfill ever more complex needs.
The quality of our digital experience has become top-of-mind for many of us as we struggle through our daily internet chores and become increasingly impatient with buggy or unstable sites. Meanwhile, as this NYT article makes clear, more of us are accessing a broader range of services for work and play than ever before, presenting new opportunities and usability challenges for brands and service providers.
Mixed results for retailers in the Coronavirus crisis
Amongst all of this there’s a mixed picture of success for many internet retailers, with some sectors and categories doing incredibly well and others rapidly plummeting in traffic, conversion and sales. Inevitably, travel sites and financial services providers have been suffering, while grocery and alcohol retailers have seen a huge increase in traffic to their sites. For example, apparel retailers have seen varied results, with Next enjoying success thanks to an established internet offering and their strength in active wear, baby and children's clothes. Meanwhile the likes of H&M, Clark's and Debenhams have continued their steep decline.
Digital retail demand and U/X expectations remain high
Over all, though, in the initial few months of the Covid-19 crisis, Digivante research has shown the average number of daily visits to retail sites and apps has increased by 14%, sessions by 15%, while conversion rate have rocketed by 24% and average revenue by 34%.
Engagement with (and demand for) online retail among consumers is clearly high and companies are often rushing to meet new u/x expectations through increased innovation in their digital experiences. But where speed of delivery is being prioritised and budgets remain squeezed, thorough testing can be the first casualty.
It's not all doom and gloom though! Revealed: The first signs of post-COVID recovery for worst-hit sectors.
Here are 6 reasons why app and website testing has never been more critical
- Large amounts of revenue are up for grabs and at stake right now. Amazon are reportedly making $11,000 a second. Now, more than ever there is a huge range of digital choice and plenty of time for consumers to browse for alternatives. Those companies whose digital experiences are clunky, buggy or otherwise compromised are risking revenue and opportunities to keep a competitive edge.
- Reputations are at risk - with browsing and buying on the high street practically at a standstill, more than ever your brand’s reputation for excellence, customer service and user experience rests on the quality of your digital portals. The risk of issues being amplified and outages being noticed and shared via social media are mounting as people increasingly ‘live’ online.
- Innovation matters - as we reported in this blog post, the picture of success of the digital economy is complex. In some sectors web and app visits are increasing but conversion is not growing at the same rate. Brands are responding with innovation intended to increase dwell time and engagement, rapidly building out content based ‘experiences’. Those rolling out new web and app features need to be confident it’s all working as it should and delivering the expected results.
- It’s not just fashion retailers that are having to innovate more to meet the challenge of a more virtual world. Vital services delivered by those in the healthcare sector are having to migrate online - where once they may have been delivered face to face. The challenge for these companies is ensuring that even as they are bought online quickly they remain usable and accessible for the people they need to serve most. Specsavers, for example, has just taken its consultation service on line, a huge fast tracking effort for development teams and opticians alike - and a challenge for some patients to adapt to. Accessibility and usability testing conducted by testers drawn from a wide range of demographics using a wide range of devices, will give confidence and insight to developers that they are delivering these services successfully in a way that is accessible . In the healthcare sector, particularly, the stakes for failed service provision are high. Thorough testing of digital innovation on apps and websites needs to be a priority.
- Over the course of this crisis, we’ve seen huge spikes and sustained surges of traffic on a range of sites in a range of sectors. These surges in traffic have been unpredictable and often driven by breaking news or trending social media topics. Comprehensive performance testing is a way of ensuring your business remains prepared for such expected and unexpected volumes of visitors in a rapidly changing and volatile digital landscape.
- What comes next? Commentators are increasingly predicting recession, the possibility of more shutdowns in the future - not to mention a summer and autumn of increasingly ruthless retail competition. A faster pace of commercial change and a greater focus on digital will mean brands having to adopt more aggressive development schedules to keep up with consumer demand. Leaner and more agile testing and optimisation activity will need to keep pace with these evolving demands in a world of tightening budgets and conflicting commercial priorities.