SPAR Austria Group is one of central Europe’s leading retail providers. Initially active as a food retailer in Austria, the company has grown significantly over the last six decades, with remarkable success across the central European food retail (SPAR), sports & fashion retail (Hervis) and shopping center (SES – SPAR European Shopping Centers) sectors.
In a retail market that has been thoroughly disrupted by digital technologies, the company relies on its Information and Communication Services team, SPAR ICS GmbH (a subsidiary company of SPAR Österreichische Warenhandels-AG), to deliver pioneering solutions that will drive the company forward. SPAR ICS’s 500-person team is responsible for managing all IT issues across the company’s 3,200 locations and is known for its use of state-of-the-art technologies, systems and methods – including strategic applications and infrastructure systems that are largely developed in-house.
The SPAR ICS team was responsible for delivering the first self-checkout experience in Austria, and many of its stores feature digital signage, electronic shelving and online ordering options, including a feature that enables customers to reserve products online and pick them up in a store.
SPAR ICS’s ultimate goal is to smoothly combine online and offline business to meet customer expectations as shopping habits rapidly evolve. Testing these new solutions to ensure a seamless shopping experience is central to achieving that goal. As the pace of development accelerated, the SPAR ICS team realized their testing processes would require a much greater degree of automation. SPAR deployed more than 100 updates to production last year within a fully automated deployment pipeline.
According to Gerhard Belina, a SPAR ICS senior IT project manager, the need for a scalable test automation solution inspired the organization to look into a better setup for quality assurance organization-wide. Recently, the ecommerce division adopted Tricentis Tosca (which had already been implemented elsewhere in the business) and set out to transform testing to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving agile business model. (Read more below the video.)
The test automation transformation
Tricentis Tosca’s scriptless, model-based approach enabled the team to implement automated test portfolios across multiple variations of SPAR’s ecommerce solution, and to quickly pivot from mostly manual to mostly automated testing. According to Belina, the transition has benefited SPAR in multiple ways.
“We are now able to have much more frequent deployment cycles than we had in the past. More importantly, it costs us less to put a deployment on a production system. It’s much more efficient.”Gerhard Belina, Senior Project Manager, SPAR ICS
In 2019, SPAR executed more than 84,000 automated test cases with Tosca at an average execution speed of 72 seconds – an 800% increase in speed over 2018. According to Belina, the team saw a complete return on their investment in Tosca within one year. “We are completely experiencing the benefit of our automation [transformation],” he says.
Accelerating testing in the SAP B2C Ecommerce environment
One of the loftiest goals of SPAR ICS – and one of the largest returns on their automation investment — was the modernization of their SAP B2C ecommerce environment. A major part of that effort was the launch of an online retail store. Called Interspar, this online platform boasts the largest food range available in the Austrian market. Before introducing Tricentis Tosca, testing the e-commerce environment was a repetitive and complicated process. A complete, end-to-end test run (from the initial order in the web shop to the final delivery to the customer) required significant manual intervention across multiple systems, including navigating several technical and infrastructure-related challenges.
To address these issues, the engineering team used Tosca’s Orchestrated Service Virtualization tool (OSV) to virtualize the surrounding systems. The engineering team worked with Tricentis to develop a fully functional SFTP connector for OSV, as well as SAP remote function call (RFC) support for the Tricentis Tosca API Scan. With the solution in place, team was ready to begin automating end-to-end tests to verify the online shopping experience and several other critical business processes.
They first automated tests that verified order processes for the online store serving customers in Austria. This included returns, order modifications, out of stock variations and more. The testing portfolio was then expanded and implemented across custom versions of the platform for their shops in Hungary, Slovenia and other locations. By using API calls and Tricentis Tosca OSV, the team managed to cut testing run time for complex, end-to-end scenarios from hours to less than two minutes per test case.
Streamlining testing with OSV and DEX
The engineering team has also implemented Tosca’s OSV tool to remove all existing dependencies to external systems that were connected to SAP B2C, including SAP Hybris, eWAMAS and Image. Testing the full order process previously required tedious manual user input across these systems to check things like article availability and product turnover.
With Tricentis Tosca, testers are able to deliver fast feedback to engineers on the current state and stability of the SAP B2C system, which has significantly improved release confidence. The team has also seamlessly integrated automated regression testing into the continuous deployment process, ensuring that tests run automatically after each software deployment cycle. With Tosca Distributed Execution (DEX), the team can now execute these tests across multiple online shop variations with the press of a button.
In the future, SPAR plans to continue to scale test automation, as well as to integrate automated mobile testing into its broader testing strategy. For SPAR, testing objectives go beyond just test automation — it’s about optimizing the entire software delivery pipeline, Belina says, to both ensure business stability and support an environment of rapid innovation.
To learn more about how SPAR modernized testing to support innovation, watch the recording of their presentation from Accelerate Vienna 2019.