1 year Opinion Pieces

Retail Customers Are Using Mobile, So Why Are Retailers Spending So Much Time Testing Desktop?

Over 1.2 billion people now access the internet from their smartphones worldwide and the use of mobile in the E-commerce world has seen exponential growth. By 2021, mobile sales are predicted to dominate online sales with at least a 54% share. It shows no sign of stopping either. The beauty of the mobile phone in the retail and E-commerce industry, is that you can buy anything anywhere – providing you have access to a smartphone. For retailers who have bricks and mortar stores alongside a digital offering, mobile devices will become even more important to achieve a seamless omnichannel experience.

Aligning Your Strategy

Surprisingly though, retailers don’t seem to be balancing their test strategy with user behaviour – so many still focus on desktop, when the trends mentioned above suggest a different approach should be adopted. Not all companies will have the same experiences of course, but by using analytics and industry trends, you should be able to align your testing efforts to the most popular devices and operating systems – a risk based approach. Concentrating on the most used options will certainly help to drive quality and therefore more sales.


There is an investment to be made when testing mobile – perhaps this is the biggest barrier to shifting the focus onto mobile. Depending on the risk involved, you might need physical devices to test on and require emulators – or both. The physical devices that you invest in should be the most used devices and provide the majority of coverage. This will enable you to run realistic, accurate and also network interaction tests on the devices that the majority of your customers use. Currently, you can often find testers using their own personal devices which probably won’t provide the coverage, consistency and thoroughness required. Emulators are often used to create full virtual machine versions of devices, which are used on a subscription basis to provide greater coverage. Device Farms provide a similar option, by remotely connecting to real devices. 

Associated Complexities & Performance

It is understandable that there is resistance to mobile testing, due to the complexities involved. Not only do you have to consider the devices, operating systems and the variety of versions, you will need to think about things like different network characteristics, geographical location of users, device conditions and interruptions (such as taking a call halfway through a process or losing connection). Then of course there is load. It is well known that retailers experience a spike in users around Black Friday, the holiday season and the subsequent January sales. This period of time can be extremely profitable for retailers, but only if you are well prepared. You often see virtual queues (which defeats the object of shopping online) and crashed websites, due to the high volumes of concurrent users, especially on Black Friday. 

The investment of time, effort and money could form the barrier to adequate mobile testing. But what organisations should consider are the costs of not investing. Poor experiences means loss of customers, which means loss of sales. It is hard to directly attribute the two but if users are now favouring mobile as their preferred route to shop, we can take a pretty good guess that it is a big part of it. Don’t be the retailer who goes bust because of a poor quality mobile site – be the retailer who prospers because every time people open their smartphone, they can’t help but head to your mobile app or website because they know they will get a quality experience every time.  

ROQ have great experience in this space, especially in the retail/eCommerce industry and have previously been recognised by Gartner in the Market Guide for Mobile Testing Services. If you would like to know how we might be able to help in your context – please get in touch ask@roq.co.uk


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