Case Study: How Robot Ninja Has Been a ‘Game Changer’ for WPSessions

Even with a steady stream of orders passing through his WooCommerce store each month, WPSessions’ Brian Richards rarely tested his checkout flow, instead relying on eager customers to get in touch when their orders failed.

So it was a reality check when one day, in the midst of a new product launch, he discovered one of his payment gateways had stopped working due to faulty code—and excited customers trying to sign up to his new course were instead abandoning their carts.

Richards still has no idea how many customers he lost during that launch, but says since joining Robot Ninja and scheduling automated tests for his site, he’s confident it won’t happen again.

WPSessions homepage

1. Can you tell me about your site and what you do?

WPSessions was founded in 2013 with the express purpose of strengthening developers’ skill sets. WPS provides live and pre-recorded training material so that web developers at all skill levels may come and learn something new and increase their value to clients, customers, or employers.

Across the past 12 months, my shop has processed around 100 orders per month, or about three per day, on average. Most of the business revenue is from private training contracts—on-boarding programs, ongoing team development, client training, etc.—which are more high-touch and don’t pass through my shop. However, I would be at adrift without each separate customer order coming in every month.

2. What challenges were you experiencing prior to signing up for Robot Ninja? Did you test your WooCommerce store regularly?

I definitely did NOT test the checkout flow with any type of regularity prior to registering for Robot Ninja. In fact, on multiple, separate occasions it was my eager customers who informed me that something in the checkout process was broken and preventing them from giving me money.

This always caused me to question just how long the problems had existed and how much potential revenue was lost as a result. This was a problem whose solution I definitely wanted to automate but I didn’t have the time to do so properly.

3. Can you tell me about an instance when your store broke? How did you find out it wasn’t working as expected?

One particular incident occurred just as I had launched a new product (that is, it promptly came to my attention then). One of my payment gateways was not working properly and customers could not complete their orders. One kind customer finally told me that their order was failing and I was able to dig in and see what was happening for myself.

The culprit, in this case, was some faulty code that I had deployed, which was interfering with the AJAX calls to validate the order before processing the payment. It didn’t happen to everyone, which made it hard to identify. Eventually I was able to pinpoint the precise problem and deploy a solution.

I had a large number of cancelled orders that I was able to convert into completed orders by contacting the would-be customers, but I wasn’t able to recover all of them. There’s no way for me to know how many other customers abandoned the order before even a cancelled instance could be captured by my store.

WPSessions founder Brian Richards.
WPSessions founder Brian Richards.

4. How did you come across Robot Ninja? Was there a particular problem that led you to searching for a testing solution?

This answer isn’t very glamorous. I learned about Robot Ninja directly from Brent Shepherd (Prospress CEO) over lunch, while it was still in development. He and I spoke at length about what I would want such a testing service to do and how it should complete real transactions—without putting the business at risk of losing any money.

In the end, the team has built exactly what I wanted to create for myself: a frictionless testing service that can complete a real transaction with real, reusable dollars.

5. How did you find the onboarding process when you joined Robot Ninja? Can you describe your experiences when dealing with support?

Onboarding was pretty seamless in my experience but I think that’s in part because I already knew what to expect.

Support has been phenomenal. Every question answered, every concern addressed, every problem fixed.

6. How has Robot Ninja helped you save time and increase productivity? How has Robot Ninja changed your workflow?

I wouldn’t say that Robot Ninja has helped me increase productivity, entirely due to the fact that I’ve spent the time it has saved me on other non-productive things—that’s on me, not Robot Ninja 🙂

Robot Ninja has definitely given me the confidence to deploy changes, and the ability to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I have not broken the checkout flow for my customers. As a result, the rate at which I’m able to deploy changes to production has increased tremendously!

7. You’ve been part of the WordPress community for a while now and obviously know WooCommerce inside-out. Would you say Robot Ninja is a game changer for WooCommerce? If yes, why?

Robot Ninja is definitely a game changer for anyone who is running a WooCommerce store. It’s such a huge relief to be able to say, at any moment in time, “Yes, my store is working properly and customers can complete an order.”

If you’re sitting on the fence about using this service, my only question to you is: why? How much would just one day of having a broken checkout cost you? For me, a single bad day could cost more than what Robot Ninja costs for a year.

I think the only reason for a store to not use this service is if they don’t care about losing sales or their total loss of sales would be under $100 for the year. And, in those cases, I question whether or not someone is actually running a business.