“The combinations and permutations of device profiles is just exploding … and it’s only going to get worse”~Brad Schneider
As a leading retailer of storage and organization products, The Container Store offers more than 10,000 innovative and multifunctional solutions. All of these are designed to simplify customers’ lives, save space and, ultimately, save time.
Although the company is known primarily as a storage and organization store, the digital world has given it an opportunity to reach new markets. Bearing in mind that The Container Store promotes the idea that the goods it sells can change lives, an increased focus on providing organization on-the-go makes perfect sense.
According to The Container Store’s director of Applications Development Brad Schneider, a demonstrated need to integrate mobile into customer interaction was why Applause was brought into the mix. The company has had a mobile website for some time, so effective and efficient app testing was a priority.
“When I arrived … there was not a QA department but there were testers on the business side. I would categorize it as strong acceptance testing, but definitely short on resources, not really able to cover the full breadth of development that was going on. We established that department with, I think, four people internally. But then we couldn’t ramp up quickly just by hiring and organic growth and looked into Applause as an option to accelerate that process and provide us a greater capability.”
As online shopping becomes an accepted part of retail, specialist vendors such as The Container Store have to make sure that customers can get what they need when they want it. The variety of mobile devices and platforms available to the average person means that testing a web app across the software development lifecycle can put a strain on internal QA teams, even more so if there are limited resources available.
“I think, like anybody else, we’re finding the sheer number of platforms in mobile and then operating systems versions and device variations within each of those [are immense],” Schneider said. “I mean, the combinations and permutations of device profiles is just exploding, and it’s only going to get worse. The markets are only going to get more fragmented … Applause gives us that device coverage that we cannot even hope to do internally.”
Customer Experience Is Tested In The Real World
An important consideration in any web or mobile app testing process is how it behaves in the real world.
Developers know that an unsatisfactory customer experience is never good for the brand. The Container Store may be seen as a specialty retailer, but there are numerous storage and organization solutions available to consumers. The increased amount of choice for existing and potential customers means that testing outside the lab must align with internal procedures.
“Rarely is Applause looking at stuff for the first time,” said Schneider. “It’s usually gone through either our internal QA or a third party vendor QA. Then it’s at the point where everybody’s saying, ‘Oh, yeah. It’s all tested.’ Then we use Applause to ensure that and provide more breadth. [Testers are] finding things after it’s already had a couple of rounds of QA. When they find something it’s truly something that somebody’s missed. Either we’ve missed or our third party partners have missed. They’re not doing a first pass.”
As the pace of life increases, the economics of retail app development mean that consumers are used to a product that makes their lives easier, especially when it comes to reducing clutter. Just being organized can relieve perceived stress, a mantra for the modern world in which effective testing can be a pleasure rather than a chore.
“I think the usability stuff has been pretty compelling,” Schneider said. “I think there’s a good value. Just knowing that there’s a lot of eyes looking at something, and they’re looking at it not from an internal perspective but presumably more of a fresh set of eyes on things. I think that’s something you can’t really replicate.”