IDG Contributor Network: Retail and e-commerce: digital transformation and what it means for software QA

As reported last year in CNN, “Experts predict that a quarter of American malls will close in five years—around 300 out of 1,100 that currently exist.”

Digital transformation is a big idea and means many things; one industry that has been most affected is retail. Many consumers prefer to shop online instead of visiting retail storefronts. Gone are the days when shopping entailed going to the mall to check out different stores, compare products, finalize the purchases and go home with an armful of shopping bags.

Remember the when you went to the mall, especially during holiday? Often you would encounter:

  • Limited or no parking.
  • Long lines to pay or just to get in.
  • A store that didn’t have enough workers on the floor to help you find what you wanted.
  • What you were looking for was out-of-stock.

In the “old normal,” such inconveniences were simply part of the shopping experience. The “new normal,” whether it be online or brick and mortar, is all about convenience. Depending on the type of product and target market, consumers are just as likely to finish their journey in a parking lot as they are in front of a PC or on their phone. Furthermore, the online experience adds new twists to the customer journey. Customers often start online, to check out product reviews, prices and availability and stores can help extend the digital connection. “Smart” e-commerce systems remind customers to finish checking out, send alerts for flash sales and once the purchase has been made, offer real-time updates of where the package is in transit. Under the hood, there are many digital aspects to this evolving retail ecosystem that must be reliable and efficient in order to ensure a positive sales outcome. What does all this take from a software QA perspective?

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