Test Customer Improvements Well In Advance


In my first software development job I was a tester. I knew programming well enough but my manager wanted me to see the testing side first.

That's where I learned how important early and realistic testing can be. Especially when it comes to data.

Those lessons have carried through all the way to today.

For example, before I released my customer lifetime metric I loaded it for a test store and ran through the analysis a few times. Once that was correct, I loaded it for every Repeat Customer Insights customer but made sure it was hidden from the reports. Finally once the data was loaded for everyone, I turned it on in the reports.

This gave me multiple chances to tweak the code and make sure the analysis was just right before customers were relying on it.

Similarly, I'm testing a new way to send my daily emails. That system is running right now but it only sends me a copy. My plan is to let it run for a week, fix issues as they show up, and then I'll switch over to the new system (or cancel it if it doesn't work as intended).

Carrying the idea over to your Shopify store, you should be testing and using versions of your systems before customers. That means things like:

  • Running a new theme as a preview for your day-to-day work.
  • Subscribing to new email and marketing automation.
  • Running employee orders through a new fulfillment and returns service.

The two big things required with this method are: planning ahead and patience.

You have to build testing time into your plan with these sorts of major changes. That means they need to be done far in advance so they can get through a full test cycle before they are launched.

You also need patience as some things will be “done” but still have to go through their testing cycle before customers see them.

Combined, this means you'll want to be working on Black Friday and holiday plans in early spring. Well ahead of the regular timing for most stores.

This longer period of testing can payoff by customers not finding bugs or getting frustrated by a broken system.

Eric Davis

This originally appeared on the LittleStream Software Blog and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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