Retail Testing: Is The Remote Testing Vision Achievable?

Retail is a sector that has large-scale payment testing labs, filled with test lanes for testing payments on Main Bank, Self-Checkout and Fuel Dispensers. These labs are secure environments in which business-critical testing is performed. The norm was for people to access these labs and perform manual testing. The pandemic has had a major impact on most of us; access to labs has been limited if not prohibited. The leading retailers were already adopting advanced test automation to gain business advantage from speed and efficiency. Now they are looking at test automation as part of business continuity and as a mechanism to achieve remote working.

The reasoning behind Point of Sale testing being performed manually is the need to include physical devices (card payment terminals and other peripherals), and the availability of lower-cost resource (people) to execute the necessary and repetitive tests. The situation wasn’t perfect, timescales were longer, and human error is almost inevitable, but it was the norm. The leading retailers were already using advanced test automation and robotics to benefit from the faster cycle time. The more rapid test execution times mean that it is possible to perform tests with smaller changes, meaning that defects are detected earlier, and problems are easier to diagnose.

So, what when the shutters went down? Our customers talk of a period of rapid change to meet business needs, such as changing contactless limits and changing rules around the sale of age-restricted goods. The requirement was to get small changes through the system and out into production quickly. The usual impact and risk assessments are required, and testing can be minimised. Still, the ones that had invested in robotics were able to undertake comprehensive testing using regression suites triggered on deployment. We were able to continue to develop fuel dispenser test automation remotely, with the test rig in the US with a team working from home in the US, from the UK. The cameras and robotics provided the ability to function remotely.

The next question is, what does it take to make remote test automation development and test execution the norm? The development aspect of this is important; the tests need to evolve with the platform. The answer lies in keeping all aspects secure, which means having the appropriate infrastructure and access, with agents within the secure lab to enable execution. Access to investigate in the event of unexpected failure is important; this includes access to machines and logs, as well as cameras to provide visibility of the hardware. Consideration should be applied to restarting components such as robots remotely. Are we there yet? Not quite, but we are very close. It is our mission and passion to increase the level of efficiency within this domain. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss how we can use what we have learnt to benefit you.