Simon Miller | 10/10/2011
I’ve built dozens of commerce-enabled websites since the early days of the Internet, and in that time I have learned a few things that, in my opinion and experience, provide for a better ecommerce website that gives your customer greater confidence in your service offering – and customer confidence is the main loyalty you need to gain.
1. Provide detailed product information
Convincing a customer to lay out a hundred dollars on a pair of jeans based on a one line sentence description and a thumbnail photo is a hard sell. If your website has good design, there is no reason why you can’t provide as much detailed information about your products as possible. Include a large zoom of the product image and multiple images in a gallery. Don’t be afraid to include multiple paragraphs of description – your web designer may suggest grouping or tabbing the content for readability. Some websites go as far to include video demonstrations of their product in use. The more confidence you can give a customer that the product you are selling is the right one for them, the better.
2. Ensure a clean and simple checkout process
One of the simplest things to do is to drastically clean up the checkout process of your website by removing all aspects of website clutter not directly involved in the checkout process. Simplify the site navigation to a step 1-2- 3 process. Remove any spotlights and sections that would cause the user to click away from the checkout.
Try to keep the checkout process to as few fields and few pages as possible – now is not the time to demand a survey. The fewer items on the screen means it’s easier for the customer to read and understand what you want from them – and that adds to their confidence.
3. Clearly display all costs before selecting the payment method
One of my biggest annoyances in ecommerce sites is not being shown the final amount that I have to pay until AFTER I have entered my credit card number and pressed Continue. It surprises me the amount of sites that do this without making it clear (like Amazon makes it clear) that you aren’t going to get charged until the following page.
Show your customers an invoice BEFORE they select their payment type – the summary of items purchased, the postage cost, tax value and final amount payable. If postage costs alter based on their shipping address, gather that information first. I have give up on many websites and bought elsewhere when faced with final steps that don’t give me the confidence I need.
4. Provide quicker payment methods
1. As more people buy products on their phones or from their laptops when lazing on the couch, convenient access to ones wallet to retrieve the all important credit card information may itself be a barrier to getting customer dollars. You can have your website save customer credit card information, but unless you do this correctly with a token-based payment gateway you could find yourself at the end of a lawsuit. This is where PayPal comes in handy.
More and more people use eBay and that means they have a PayPal account. PayPal have simplified it so much that you can even use your mobile phone number as your username instead of your email address. By enabling checkout with PayPal a user does not have to reach for his or her wallet; they simply have to remember their password. Consider this when building your website – how impulsive are your products? Getting $9.95 from a customer who only has to enter a password sets off far fewer red flags in a person’s head when considering their finances. Having to enter a credit card number and expiry date causes you to acknowledge where the money is coming from.
There are other more things to consider when drafting your checkout process - such as ensuring the entire process is secured with an SSL certificate, and keeping a customer’s shopping cart against their account so that they don’t have to re-add items when returning to your website - but these should give you some food for thought.
Interested in learning more?
Wiliam is a leading supplier of web solutions and can provide expert advice to assist your business or organisation online.