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How to place a test order on your ecommerce store

illustration of a person placing a test order on the computer

Online shopping is made up of a lot of moving parts; processing and fulfilling orders, accepting payments, and maintaining post-purchase communication with your customers. 

If any one of these touchpoints were to fail, this can cause serious issues for your business.

This is why placing test orders should be regular practice every time you make an adjustment to your ecommerce store. 

By knowing first-hand what’s working and what isn’t, you can streamline the shopping experience and resolve any issues – before they’re discovered by your customers. 

In this post, we’re going to explain what a test order is, what it can be used for, and how you can perform a test order on your ecommerce platform.

What is a test order in ecommerce?

A test order is placed through your ecommerce store to simulate the customer experience of shopping on your website. By doing this, you can ensure the functionality of all the systems involved with processing and fulfilling orders. This includes your OMS (Order Management System), inventory, payment methods, shipping options, and order confirmation emails.

Placing a test order is a critical part of setting up your ecommerce store. Before you start selling, you need to be certain that your customers aren’t going to encounter difficulties that may lead to cart abandonment. Test order automation should also take place whenever you do the following:

  • Add additional payment options e.g. PayPal or Stripe
  • Introduce a free shipping threshold
  • Add additional currency options/shipping destinations

How does a test order work?

There are different kinds of test orders, depending on which stages of the shopping experience you want to inspect. 

For example, if you’re wanting to test your payment portal, it isn’t necessary to have an order processed and shipped. Most ecommerce platforms will offer a test payment gateway so you can complete an order without making an actual transaction. 

But if you’re wanting to assess shipping speed or the quality of your unboxing experience, you’ll need to place a proper order and wait for its arrival. While this does create additional fulfillment costs for your ecommerce business, doing this at regular intervals is a great way to maintain brand and product integrity.

7 reasons to perform a test order in ecommerce

1. Mapping the user experience

When websites don’t offer visitors a streamlined and intuitive user experience, they’ll abandon it in droves. The same is true of your ecommerce site. 

The end-to-end shopping experience, from when a prospective customer enters your website to when they receive their order confirmation, needs to be seamless and easy to navigate to avoid cart abandonment. 

By placing a test order, you get to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. It’s an opportunity to identify areas of friction in the shopping experience that you wouldn’t otherwise know about. 

According to Sleeknote, unexpected extra costs are the number one reason for cart abandonment in ecommerce. So, if you find out that shipping fees aren’t being displayed until the checkout page, this could be giving your customers a bit of a shock. A good way to fix this is by adding estimated shipping costs to your product pages or FAQ webpage to avoid any unwanted surprises.

2. Verifying product quality

If you’re a dropshipping business that doesn’t own its own stock, test orders are particularly important. Before you start selling, you need to make sure that your chosen products are exactly what they say they on the tin. If you mislead your customers into buying poor-quality or even defective goods, your business isn’t going to be around for long. 

By conducting test orders in the role of a customer, you can verify that your suppliers are trustworthy and their products genuine.

3. Checkout process

As fellow consumers, we know the ecommerce checkout is one of the most fraught moments in the entire shopping journey. It’s often where we start having second thoughts about a purchase – especially if the checkout process doesn’t fill us with confidence. 

To keep shopping cart abandonment down, your checkout and payment processing needs to have a high degree of usability. Important information such as accepted payment providers and shipping options should be easy to find, while address and card information fields need to be clearly marked to avoid confusion. If your test order reveals any irregularities with this process, you’ll have time to rectify them before your store goes live.

4. Shipping and delivery

Consumer expectations for fast and affordable shipping have never been higher. Just 15% of consumers say that ecommerce merchants meet their expectations for delivery speed all of the time. It’s a clear sign of how accustomed we’ve become to Amazon-esque shipping speeds.

While it isn’t possible to guarantee on-time delivery for every single order, it’s important your shipping timeframes are realistic. Placing test orders will help you to assess the cost vs speed of different delivery options and whether they’re viable to achieve. For example, if you plan on offering same-day delivery, there’s very little margin for error. So, it’s important to test the boundaries of your carrier’s same-day delivery capabilities to make sure that you won’t let your customers down.

5. Post-purchase communications

When a customer places an online order, they want reassurance that the fulfillment process is underway. Being responsive and forthcoming with email notifications or SMS updates is the easiest way to alleviate delivery anxiety in your customers. This also prevents your customer care team from being swamped by avoidable ‘where is my order?’ inquiries. 

However, it’s not unusual for customers to spent an anxious few hours waiting for their order number to arrive in their inbox – or for them to not arrive at all. 

That’s why test orders are an important tool for assessing your own post-purchase communications. Test orders allow you to identify any issues with your email notifications, from the initial confirmation up to the moment of shipping and delivery.

6. Product presentation

The unboxing experience is one of the most important touchpoints in the ecommerce journey, especially for high-end and luxury brands. The moment of the delivery is the first tactile interaction that customers will have with your brand, so it’s important that this anticipated ritual leaves a favorable impression.

Test orders are a great opportunity to see whether your packing rules are being carried out correctly, especially if you’re working with a 3PL for ecommerce fulfillment. This is important for reasons other than aesthetics. If products aren’t being packed properly, there’s an increased risk of items being damaged in transit. 

If you have a more elaborate unboxing experience that includes elements like custom product packaging, test orders will come at higher pricing for your business. However, you can offset this by using your test order as an opportunity to create some engaging content for your social media channels. After all, who doesn’t an unboxing video or two?

7. Third-party integrations

Third-party integrations are part and parcel of running an ecommerce website. The upside of today’s open APIs is that it’s easy for brands to take advantage of native integrations that require little or no additional coding. 

However, your business needs to keep a close eye on these to make sure that they’re functioning properly. A malfunctioning integration can wreak havoc with your orders, especially when communicating critical delivery information.

For example, running a test order allows you to see whether your OMS and WMS are syncing order and shipping information correctly. If you decide to partner with a 3PL, they will run test orders on your behalf to ensure that their systems are properly integrated with your ecommerce platform.

How to run a test order on your online store

There are two ways that you can perform a test order. By making a real transaction, or using a bogus gateway on your ecommerce platform. 

If you’re doing the former, this is pretty straightforward. Once you’ve placed an order and everything is to your satisfaction, all you need to do is cancel and refund it.

 However, you’ll still have to pay transaction fees for processing a real payment. If you have a real-time integration with your fulfillment provider, you may need to cancel the order within their system too.

Below are instructions on how to perform a test order on Shopify and BigCommerce, the two main platform integrations offered by Whiplash.  

Note that the options below are designed for test orders which don’t require fulfillment or shipping, and can be canceled once they’re successful. If you’re wanting to place a proper order, you can do this on your online store as normal.

How to run a test order on a Shopify store

  1. Go to Settings > Payments in your Shopify admin
  2. Deactivate your current credit card payment provider by clicking Manage > Deactivate, and confirm.
  3. In the Third-party providers section, click Choose third-party provider and select Bogus Gateway. Click Activate. 
  4. Go back to your storefront and place a regular order. When you reach the checkout page, enter the following credit card details for the credit card number, CVV, and expiry date:

 Test name on card

Enter Bogus Gateway

Test credit card number

Enter each of these in turn to simulate different types of transaction:

  • Enter 1 to simulate a successful transaction
  • Enter 2 to simulate a failed transaction
  • Enter 3 to simulate an exception (this generates a message indicating that an error has occurred with the provider)

Test CVV

Enter any 3-digit number 

Test expiry date

Enter any future dates

5. When you’re finished testing, click Manage next to Bogus Gateway and select Deactivate. 

If you want to check your email notifications at the same time, be sure to put your email address in the checkout.

How to run a test order on a BigCommerce store

1. Place items in your cart as a regular shopper would, then select view cart and add info to add shipping information. This should be a genuine address. 

2. Click estimate shipping to display shipping options to check that methods and tax are displaying correctly.

3. Select guest checkout and progress through to the payment section. You can set up BigCommerce’s test mode by entering the following payment information: 

Card number

Enter 4111 1111 1111 1111 

Test card name

Enter success

Test card type

Select Visa

4. Place your order. You can view your test order by going into orders > fulfillment. The order you just placed should be listed here with the label Awaiting Fulfillment. 

Integrate your platform with Whiplash for better ecommerce fulfillment

Ecommerce fulfillment involves a lot of moving parts. By partnering with an advanced 3PL like Whiplash, you can integrate advanced fulfillment capabilities with your ecommerce platform for real-time visibility over your orders and inventory levels.  Whiplash’s responsive and intuitive fulfillment enhances the customer experience with fast shipping and memorable delivery – at flexible pricing that doesn’t break the bank.

Seamless integrations. Whiplash offers native integrations with Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, and BigCartel in addition to returns management tools and major parcel carriers, making it easy to test your systems avoid any headaches for your customers. 

Design the optimum shipping strategy for your business. Gain access to cost-effective shipping rates using our SmartRate selection tool to compare carriers in real-time.

Set custom packing rules. Create the perfect unboxing experience using Whiplash’s Order Rules for complete control over your packing strategy – right down to individual SKUs.

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