Merchant Account Services

Ecommerce 101

Everything You Need to Know to Get Your Online Store to be Sccessful


Author: Jim Conners ()

Rating: 10.0

Pages: 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12|13|14

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Many online shoppers are relunctant or hesitant consumers. They're ready to abandon a sale if anything strikes them as difficult or "funny". So what can a merchant do? Since holding your potential customers' hands is ot possible, your next best bet is to reduce the liklihood that they will see something that may upset them and cause them to leave before completing their purchase. Below are some common mistakes made by ecommerce websites that may cause a user to abandon their shopping cart.

  • Poor Product Descriptions

    When purchasing online a customer has no way to physically inspect the items they are looking to purchase. This means they are at your mercy and hopeful that you will do your best to make sure they understand exactly what product they are looking at. Multiple clear pictures (usualyl as thumbnails which can then be expanded to full size) are necesary to allow the customer see the item properly. Ideally you will also include such details such as the manufacturer, model number (great when someone is looking for a very specific item), colors available, materials manufactured from, size/dimensions, and weight. The more information your provide the more likely the customer will be confident in their purchase.

  • Difficult to Contact

    Often times a customer may have a question about a product they see on your website. Because returning items purchased online is more diffcult and time consuming many potential customers will want to ask questions before making their purchase. Naturally to ask their questions they need to be able to get a hold of a customer service representative, which usually is the site owner, and hopefully in a timely manner.

    Which methods you offer your customers will vary depending on your availability, staff, and budget. But there are a lot of avenues available to you:

    • Email
    • A simple yet effective way to let your customers contact you is by email. Setting it up can be very simple to do and yet it can be a powerful way to communicate. A common technique is to provide a special web based form that the customer can fill in their contact information and questions. These kinds of forms are nice because you can hide your email address from spammers thus keeping your incoming emails limited only to serious inquiries. More advanced websites will allow customers to click on a link on a product page and automatically have that product information included in their email to you. That is a great way to be sure you can help them to the best of your ability.

    • Telephone
    • Many customers prefer to speak to a live human being or want instant gratification. Allowing a customer to pick up the phone and speak to a customer service representative means answerring their questions and encouraging them to make a purchase while still actively shopping on your website. The telephone number need not be a toll free number although toll free numbers do offer an air of professionalism and make customers more likely to call since the call will be free for them.

    • Live Chat
    • Another way to provide instant gratification without the costs of toll free numbers or needing to have very personal contact with customers is to use live chat. Live chat requires special software to be installed on your website but once that is done it allows customers to have a chat with a customer service representative in real time. A good representative can handle multiple chats at one time.

  • Excessive Shipping

    The single biggest factor in shopping cart abandonment is excessive shipping. A common tactic ecommerce stores use to lure in users is to lower the prices of their products so it is below their competitors or, more importantly, brick and mortar stores. To make up for the squeeze this puts on their margins they tack on extra shipping costs. This may be a great way to get customers to fill up their shopping cart but it is equally as good as making them abandon them. Price your items so that they are competitive but profitable and charge normal shipping prices.

  • Long Checkout Process

    A great way to give your customers ample opportunity to abandon an order is to ask them for their life story. An even better way to do it is to ask them for their life story over the course of five, six, or more pages. When a consumer reaches the checkout portion of the sale flow they are ready to buy. You want to take away and last second reservations they may have and you certainly do not want to give them opportunites to second guess their purchase.

    Asking your users to give unnecessary information unrelated to their purchase is a great way to raise red flags. If you don't need the information to complete their order then don't ask for it. If you really want to collect extra information do it after they have completed the checkout process.

    Another mistake is spreading the checkout process out over multiple pages. While sometimes this may be necessary, your goal should always be to keep the number of steps in the checkout process to an absolute minimum. Each step offers a customer an opportunity to change their mind or grow concerns about their order. Allow them the earliest opportunity to complete their order.

  • Poor Privacy Policy

    Even though the Internet is extremely popular and ecommerce sales grow year after year, most consumers still hesitate to make purchases online. Thanks to scams, hackers, and just an overall lack of understanding of how ecommerce works many consumers tend to lean on the side of caution. One important factor to many shoppers is how you plan to use the senstive information they provide to you during checkout. Spelling out exactly why you need the information you collect and how to plan to use it is a great way to reassure your potential customers that their information will be safe. Even better would be to say in no uncertain terms that you do not plan to sell their information to third parties.

  • Poor Return Policy

    In the world of online shopping the customer is always right. Unless special steps have been taken a customer who made a purchase online will virtually always win a chargeback dispute. The best defense an online merchant has against chargebacks is to prevent a situation from arising where they may face a chargeback. Having a return/refund policy that is restrictive will only cause customers to file more chargebacks as opposed to forcing them to keep the product. A word of advice: make your return/refund customer-centric. Not only will it encourage them to purchase from your store but it will reduce your chargeback and loss exposure.

Some More Do's and Don'ts of Ecommerce Design

The Do's

  • Quote accurate shipping as early as possible.
  • Make fast loading pages (don't keep users waiting else they will go elsewhere).
  • If you're selling many products put a search box somewhere top right on every page.
  • Display what payment methods you accept on your home page, along with SSL details if used.
  • Show their cart status on every page. Include number of items and total.
  • Make the order button big and easy to see.
  • Slim down your checkout pages by taking out any page elements that aren't needed, less distractions during checkout seems to give less chance of abandoned carts.
  • Alleviate the user's fraud worries. Remind them of your privacy policy and secure certificate.
  • Show your competence: no typos, adequate "help" pages, meaningful product descriptions, etc.
  • Allow for user input to be formatted any way the user likes. Clean it up when you process the info.
  • Use quick checkout for returning customers.
  • Offer order history and invoice/receipt printing.
  • Personalise your site. If they are logged in you can tailor content to the customer based on previous ordering/browsing history.

The Dont's

  • Don't require registration unless you absolutely have to.
  • Don't use graphically heavy designs. Keep your image use to products.
  • Don't try to come up with a new way of doing things instead of using conventions that have worked for years. For instance, use a shopping cart. Not a basket, or a bag... a cart.
  • Don't do something "new" or "innovative" when it comes to your products. Make the product listing and detail page clear and easy to navigate.
  • Don't hide displaying shipping charges until the user is registered or enters their credit card information.
  • Don't make the user redo the entire form if only 1-2 fields need attention.
  • Using proprietary technology (Active-X or require a specific browser).
  • Don't use stupid customised cursor or any such worthless "design" touches.
  • Don't drop the ball after purchase is made. Follow through all they way to delivery, at least.

Website Needs | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | Shopping Carts