“Online” is what the business fraternity today swears by, and this has set in a new trend. This is the age of businesses going online and wooing a bigger prospective customer base, globally. Although all industries seem to have been touched by this internet revolution, it is the retail industry which has been affected the most. Today retail giants have come on to follow their customers over the internet, and have been hence forced to operate out of online avenues, and not the age old retail stores. What this and the coming of mobile technology have in turn done is that it has brought the IT infrastructure of these stores to be inflated multi-fold. There has thus been an increased need for effective quality assurance and testing procedures of the various modules. Below are some of the major areas where testing, both technical and functional, and quality assurance finds importance in the modern day retail businesses.
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1. Bad Experiences are not forgiven
Today when retail stores and companies compete online for customer focus and market share, it is the consumer preference that prevails supreme. As a result, even the slightest bad experience can cause a lot of upheaval. In addition, the social media frenzy can multiply the resulting bad publicity many times over. Hence the QA and testing of the functionality of the web avenue and the mobile applications assumes prime importance.
2. The inherent working structure
Retail industry operates in an evident bias. While the operating costs are high and margins are lower here, the quality of service desired out of them is still made to match those which customers enjoy in banking or healthcare industry. As a result, it is the IT infrastructure in the retail firms which is stressed to provide for such a level of service.
3. The transition to online systems hasn’t helped
The retail industry has had computers powering their operations since almost 2-3 decades today and any new release to these legacy systems has led to spaghetti of code being instilled. Hence when they went online with their business, the new IT infrastructure had to undertake a detailed end-to-end quality assurance and testing, so that the integrity of service was maintained across all these systems.
4. Complex sales promotion initiatives
Given the cut throat competition within the online retail operations, sales promotions and rewards have come on to become a heavily used tool for attracting customer attention. These fliers and marketing information needs to be presented at each of the zillion web pages on the store’s application, and should be seamlessly visible in the customer’s shopping cart. This adds another layer of complexity in the workflow and requires an effective QA and testing procedure in place.
5. Operations through channels
In the pursuit, a greater market share, each of the modern day retail stores have come on to operate in conjunction with channel partner sites. All their promotional content and offers hence need to be instantaneously reflected upon these sights and complex algorithms in code have been developed for the same. These algorithms need a quality assurance wrapper around them, the post they have been effectively tested.
6. Enabling secure customer transactions
Today when all the major retail stores have gone truly global, they receive a huge customer traffic each hour, and a comparable pool of transactions need to be handled. It is required by business ethic as well as by law, which these transactions are securely carried out over the online retail portals. Quality assurance and repeated testing schedules play an important role here as well, to ensure a safe shopping experience for the customers.
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7. 24/7 Uptime
There were the easier times a few years back when retail business would be carried out brick and mortar stores, which would close down in the evening. However, now when the stores have come to be online, they need to service customers uniformly 24/7, which has in turn required setting up business and IT procedures. This requires effective quality and functional testing, to ensure there is now downtime due to system failure.
8. Handling Employee Affairs
The modern day retail stores have become work giants, employing a huge base of employees. Information related to their pay, benefits, and appraisals hence need to be effectively managed in-house. IT systems have been installed to support these tasks and this is yet another area where quality assurance and testing partners find ample involvement.
9. Cyber Security
As the magnitude of IT operations of these retail businesses grows, there is an increased susceptibility to online frauds and cybercrimes. For these, all the retail stores have cyber firewalls and protection mechanism, which need constant testing for leak proofing, and appropriateness. A quality assurance blanket and sign off in regular intervals is also desired for such operations.
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