How not to lose a customer in your e-commerce website

Imagine 10 people visit your e-commerce website a day and you are selling items that range from 100 pesos to several thousands. If your visitors abandon your e-commerce website because of broken links or slow loading pages, you are potentially losing 365,000 pesos of sales a year (10 people x 100 pesos x 365 days).

My not so popular blog receives an average of 134 visits a day including visits from web crawlers the highest was 180). I’m sure you’re well aware of the importance of traffic that’s why you are promoting your e-commerce website agressively. I know you are doing a good job in your promotion because I’ve seen your ads in magazines, newspapers, and billboards. Here in the office, everytime somebody needs computer parts, yours is the first website they go to.

Now, if your e-commerce website receives 100 visits a day but it doesn’t translate to sales for some reasons, you are losing 3.65M pesos a year. Do you want to know those reasons? Maybe, your price is too high or your offerings are inadequate. I can’t give you advice on pricing or inventory management because I don’t know these things but if you want to look at the possibility that just maybe, it’s your e-commerce website that is failing you, then read further.

In this essay, I share my understanding of how customer thinks while they are using an e-commerce website and hopefully help you convert those clicks to money.

Show me the money

Customers don’t like surprises.

When your e-commerce website says “Free shipping”, your customer expects free shipping. If you break that promise after 3 pages, then your customer will definitely leave. Upfront, tell your customers if you only provide “Free shipping for selected locations”. If you can be specific, the better like “Free shipping within Metro Manila only”.

In a supermarket, if a customer can’t see the item in the shelf, it is not available. She may select a different brand, put it in her shopping cart and move on. In an e-commerce website, you customer expects the same behavior with a shopping cart. If she can put an item in the shopping cart, she can buy it. Telling your customer the item is unavailable just before she pays causes frustration and disappointment. As early as possible, tell your customer if an item is unavailable and prevent her from adding it in her shopping cart.

In an e-commerce website, you can provide a better experience by allowing your customer to back-order an item when it becomes available. If your website does not provide a back-order feature, at least get her email. That way, you only not provided a pleasant shopping experience to your customer, you can also potentially close a sale in the future.

Customers don’t like distractions.

When customers add an item in her shopping cart, she would not mind if your e-commerce website gives recommendations on related items — what sales and marketing people call cross-selling. It is important that you cross-sell items that are related to the ones in your customer’s shopping cart. If you sell unrelated items, it becomes annoying.

But in a checkout page, cross-selling must stop. If your customer has decided to checkout the items in her shopping cart, eliminate all links that do not direct customers to close the sale. Not only unrelated links are unhelpful, it also diverts your customer’s attention away from finalizing the purchase — a scenario you wouldn’t want to happen if you want your e-commerce website to be profitable.

Even when your customer is only browsing for products, do not provide links, especially advertisements, that are not related to the items your customer are looking at.

Customers arrrive in your e-commerce website in a number of ways ?��Ĭ� Google, link in an email, or word of mouth. If you are selling computer parts and you start giving links to real-estate advertisements, your customer will start to wonder “Am I at the correct website?”. As I’ve said earlier, unrelated links deviate your customer’s attention and may cause her to leave either by following the unrelated link or out of confusion. Not only you have lost a potential sale, you have also undermined the credibility of your e-commerce website as a source of computer parts.

Customers are impatient.

Customers decide in a fraction of a second whether or not your website offers what they are looking for. Aaron Marcus reports that more than 83% of customers leave an e-commerce website (PDF, 103KB) if they feel they have to make too many clicks to find what they are looking for.

On the other hand, not giving the proper link will certainly annoy your customers. In the customer’s mind, everything is just a click away. Providing product listings without the option of giving the customers a way click for product details is a sure way to frustrate them.

In the Internet, everything is a click away. You have heard this a million times but this is something worth repeating. It is not anymore unusual for customers to open multiple websites at the same time. Therefore, your e-commerce website must do a good job of answering the question “Why am I here and not somewhere else?”.

Customers demand answers.

Questions add up to a customer’s frustrations when using an e-commerce website. The sooner your website answer those questions, the sooner your customer will close the sale. Otherwise, they will leave and may never go back.

Sometimes customers arrive in you e-commerce website just to look around (or window-shop as we call it in the physical world). Some arrive ready to buy but suddenly becomes hesitant because questions have blocked their road towards making that purchase. Here are some questions that could stop your customers from taking one step forward:

  1. When will my order be shipped?
  2. What are my shipping options and how much it cost?
  3. Can I return an item? What is the return policy?
  4. Is there a gift-wrapping?
  5. Can I ship to multiple addresses?

How about privacy?

In a supermarket, you only show the sales clerk the items you want to purchase and your cash or credit card. That’s it. The lady at the cashier doesn’t ask for your your mobile phone number or ID’s (unless you look like an grade school student and you’re buying liquor). In your e-commerce website, ask only for information that is absolutely needed to complete the purchase. If your website asks for too many information, your customers will definitely become suspicious.

What’s next?

Next time I will post my shopping cart wishlist. For now, why don’t you grab the 1st person you see in the hallway and ask her to test your e-commerce website.

Learn more

If you want to learn more how to improve the usability of your e-commerce website and online experience of your customers, I suggest you read from cover to cover the following books:

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