30 Days of E-Commerce Testing - Day Twenty-Three!

Day 23:
What are examples of businesses which are marketplace ecommerce platforms?

I think of two things when it comes to ‘marketplace’ ecommerce.
There’s sites like Amazon or Ali Baba, that allow third party businesses to sell on their site.

Then there’s sites like TradeMe or Ebay that are individuals selling second hand items.

The second one is the more interesting space for me at the moment.
There are two main sources for buying second hand goods here in NZ - one is TradeMe, the other is Facebook.

I really like TradeMe, I use it a lot.
But, I hear lots of complaints these days. It’s harder to find what you’re looking for, fees going up, advertising.
It’s kinda understandable.


Here’s a regular search I do for X-Men comics. Slap bang in the middle, is an advertisement - that looks much like a regular listing - for Gabions.
I don’t know what a Gabion is and I don’t want to buy one.
This isn’t a great experience, far as I’m concerned.

I’ve never traded using Facebook - I don’t trust it.
That said, lots of people do. It seems to be much more popular.
You don’t get stung by fees like TradeMe do, and the sellers seem to be more local.
You can also request stuff you’re looking for, and trade goods, rather than buy.

It’s harder to find items though - as far as I can tell, Facebook buy/sell/trade groups don’t have any way to search, or categorization like TradeMe would.

The main down side is though, in my opinion, there is absolutely no protection like there is with TradeMe.
TradeMe allows you to offer feedback on buyers/sellers, which gives some motivation to complete the trade, and be honest people.
They also refund fees if the sale doesn’t go through - I’ve had to do this a few times.

In the interest of this post though, I joined a FB buy sell swap group. They have to vet me before letting me in - so I guess that's something :D

So yeah. I’ll probably stick with TradeMe for now, despite the fees and stuff. Buy my stuff please, thanks.

- JE


30 Days of E-Commerce Testing - Day Twenty-Two!

Day 22:
What are methods of securing ecommerce data? Discuss and share!


The number one security challenge I can think of with E-Commerce is credit card numbers.

Here’s some things.
Never, not ever, not ever ever, store credit card numbers.
Bad things will happen.

If your site takes credit card payments (they probably do), there’s a couple things you could do.
Use a third party payment processor, like Stripe or DPS. That way they take care of all the hard stuff about securing credit cards for you.

If you must process the payment yourselves, then it pays to use a payment gateway like Spreedly.
This way you don’t have to store credit card details, you simply store a token that is then passed on to Spreedly, or whatever gateway service you’re using.

One important thing to think about though, is how might you inadvertently store a credit card number.
For example, you might have credit card input fields that store a token in a really safe manner. Cool!
But, what about a potential situation where a user enters an invalid credit card number, and we log an error - containing all the invalid field entries - including the credit card number!
This is one gotcha to be aware of. Make sure credit card details don't even end up in your log files, or anywhere else.

To accept credit card payments, your site needs to be PCI compliant. Which is a whole ‘nother thing. You can read all about it at your leisure! :)

- JE

30 Days of E-Commerce Testing - Day Twenty-One!

Day 21:
Identify alternative ways that we can currently buy products without using a computer.

For purposes of this question, I assume ‘computer’ means, like, a desktop or laptop or a smartphone.

Because computers are in pretty much everything!

Here’s what I’m thinking.

Purchasing by SMS
Not that common - but - happens a lot in the donation space, people giving by text message.
I’ve tested this a bit myself, remind me and I’ll post a more substantial blog on it later.

Vending machines
Modern day vending machines have so much technology.
You don’t even need cash - or even a PIN number - just swipe your card and away you go.
Flixbox is a really interesting modern example of this - filling in the gap left by the loss of video rental stores, for those that don’t yet use iTunes or Netflix.
I’d love to test a product like this, and tease out the edge cases (declined cards, late returns, trying to circumvent the system)

Self checkout
Self checkout is another nontraditional e-commerce solution.
These systems require plenty of testing, and I’m sure if you’ve ever used one you’ve encountered problems.
Unexpected item in bagging area anyone?


That Amazon store
Amazon go is another e-commerce solution that doesn’t fit the traditional e-commerce model.
According to the website
“Our Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll send you a receipt and charge your Amazon account.”
I would *love* to test this. Specifically, find ways to shoplift. Legally. It sounds like such a fun challenge.

And that’s that!

- JE


30 Days of E-Commerce Testing - Day Twenty!

Day 20

Shopping Cart Abandonment: What are some common ways of handling this issue?

 This cart has clearly not been abandoned

This cart has clearly not been abandoned

I haven’t forgotten about 30 days of e-commerce, I swear.
A bit of illness and a few intense work days have put me behind :)
So, you know, maybe it will be sixty days of E-commerce, but oh well.
Shopping Cart Abandonment!

The good thing is, I’m an expert in this, I abandon my shopping carts all the time.
In both E-commerce and at the supermarket.

Here’s a couple of things I notice happen:

- An email the next day saying “Hey, you still have items in your cart!” This is cool, it reminds me incase I’d forgotten about it.

- An email a week or so later saying “You didn’t complete your purchase, here’s a discount code” This is cool too - a good way to encourage people to complete their otherwise forgotten purchases.

- Another feature of an abandoned cart email is a time limit. “We will remove from your cart in three days”, or, “One of the items in your cart is about to sell out.” This sense of urgency is a good way of increasing cart completion!

Of course, none of this happens when I’m actually in the supermarket…

- JE


30 Days Of E-Commerce Testing - Day Nineteen!


Day 19
Learn about performance testing strategies for an ecommerce platform.

I struggled to find useful resources here.

But, after a bit of reading and scanning various web sources, here’s something I learned.

It’s really tempting to stress test a happy path.
Search for an item, add it to cart, complete purchase.
You might think that setting up this path, and then ramping up a large number of runs in a tool like JMeter, might be enough.

But - that might not be true!

It’s possible that a search is a much more processor intensive process than adding an item to a cart.
It’s also possible that a search is done much more frequently than a purchase - there are possibly lots of people searching but not buying.

This throws the performance test out of balance - it’s no longer a realistic test of performance.

Performance tests need to account for real user behaviour, and functions that are more processor intensive than others.
Ideally, some numbers on user behaviour can be gleaned beforehand.
Otherwise, start thinking outside the happy path, before designing your performance tests.

Hope that makes sense! Sorry that’s a short one!
- JE