A Retailer’s Guide to Avoiding App Crashes

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A Retailer’s Guide to Avoiding App Crashes

By Eran Kinsbruner - 03/16/2017

 

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More than ⅓ of all shoppers used mobile devices and apps on Black Friday, making one thing clear— perfecting your brand’s mobile experience is more important than ever. As shoppers continue to go mobile, we see repeated mistakes every year. Big companies like Old Navy and Best Buy have all been victims of website and app crashes during these peaks of high-traffic. If retailers want to meet customers where they are, their apps better be prepared to withstand a surge in traffic.
 
Holiday shopping season aside, studies have found that consumers spend more time shopping on mobile devices than on desktops, and top retailers now capture half their sales on mobile. Due to the nature of mobile usage, consumers utilize retail apps in a variety of different circumstances: while connected to spotty wifi, juggling between multiple devices, simultaneously running other power-hungry apps, and more.
 
It’s hard to maintain a quality app experience through all of those variables, especially when apps are getting more complex with augmented and virtual reality features, gamification and beacons. But through extensive app testing, companies can quickly roll out new features and stay up to speed in the competitive retail market.
 
Keep Apps Up and Running
Even if your retail app is functioning properly today, there’s no guarantee it’ll maintain its quality throughout a holiday rush and complicated user scenarios. Ensuring peak app performance depends of several different testing solutions:

1.     Test app features across industry specific devices and operating systems. Resources like the Digital Test Coverage Index factor in geographic location, retail web traffic analytics, and market statistics to identify popular devices and OSs used in the retail industry. Testing features across these devices and OSs is essential for maintaining a quality app performance for your users, especially in times of peak traffic.  

2.     Account for common user scenarios. When a consumer is using your retail app, odds are that it’s not the only thing using up mobile resources at the time. You’ll need to account for user scenarios that often occur with app shoppers, i.e. test against competing retail apps and social media apps, test with low battery life and location tracking, etc. Being strategic in simulating these user conditions is key to ensuring an end-user experience that meets today’s standards of quality.

3.     Test end to end workflows. Retail apps are often part of a longer user journey; starting on a desktop web browser, continuing to a mobile native app, and then back to the desktop. Taking this into consideration, be sure to test whether user information is being saved to the mobile apps when accessed on a desktop, and vice versa.

4.     Stress test your app to mimic heavy user traffic. This can be done by increasing server load in your testing environment. Development teams can then monitor for alerts on how the app handles a sudden increase in users—limiting the risk of app crashes at high risk times.
These steps allow companies to detect issues with their app in real end-user conditions, before they become a problem—and a lost customer.
 
Brands that invest in a rigorous testing program can confidently bring their app to market with new features and functionality that are proven to provide a quality experience for their target audience. During the holiday shopping season, when more users flock to retail apps and traffic spikes, retailers must ensure they can perform under pressure. Without testing, there’s no guarantee apps will work properly for the high volume of users expected during the season.

-Eran Kinsbruner, Mobile Technical Evangelist, Perfecto