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This week British retailer Mothercare announced its final store closures this week as products are reduced by 80% and the website is shut down for the last time. But how could Mothercare have survived the infamously coined ‘high-street apocalypse’ with functional testing?
After almost 60 years in the business, expectant parents used to flock to Mothercare’s high-street stores in search for the perfect accessories, clothing and pushchairs to suit their new bundle of joy. However as shopping behaviours changed and digital took over, in-store shopping novelty wore off and expectant parents quickly took to the internet to search for discounted items with quick delivery times with Amazon leading the way.
Over the past 10 years, internet shopping took the retail world by storm, increasing online sales by 20% from 2008 to 2018 for private use goods, as users favoured the reliability and convenience of digital stores over the high-street regardless of brand loyalty. Because of this significant change in user preferences, businesses had to dramatically improve the digital experience on their site in order to keep their customers coming back and this is where Mothercare fell behind.
A quick Google search for the Mothercare website reveals the frustrations users have encountered while on the Mothercare website, with crashes and digital standstills being the top-ranked search options.
Why do websites crash?
There are multiple reasons as to why websites crash, perhaps a once-in-a-life-time sale has pushed the website to breaking point as site visitors triple. Or maybe a new functionality has been released and it has caused a domino effect on the rest of the website weakening previous updates. The list goes on, and for internal teams developing websites with continuous changes can feel like an endless task that results in hundreds of backlogged bugs built up over time. This is where website testing comes in, or more specifically functional testing.
What is functional testing?
Functional testing is a type of software testing whereby a system (website or app) is tested against its core functional requirements/specifications. There are many different types of functional testing including:
Unit testing - Testing one specific part of site/app. For example, logging in to a website or adding to basket.
Component testing - Testing a group of things or a journey. For example, buying an item which includes browsing/add to basket/ buy.
System/User acceptance testing – A bigger test of a full site or app ensuring all the different components work together smoothly.
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Mothercare and functional testing
Mothercare’s site crashes and ‘broken website’ could have been prevented with functional testing practices examining all changes and updates on the site from the ground up. And it’s not just failing businesses that need website testing practices in order to survive the next 5 years. Other businesses in the retail world have begun placing more emphasis on website testing as ROI benefits roll in and digital performance improves. For instance, a UK-based jewellery retailer Digivante previously worked with used website testing to examine the quality of their website and discovered a bug which was costing them £30,000 a week in failed sales. Compared to the average cost of website testing per month, this business saw a 10% increase in ROI once this bug was resolved.