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Alienating the e-Commerce

A few posts back, we presented you with the top three common e-commerce mistakes and we’re back again with more.  It’s not hard to see that e-commerce is a viable way to earn a profit in this Internet based world we live in, so it makes sense that there’d be a ton of online stores out there.  With tons of sites, however, come tons of mistakes, and the list of those just so happens to be more than one post can handle.
The good thing about a post like this, is that it allows designers to arm themselves with knowledge they need to turn the tide and reduce mistakes overall.  As designers, we have a particularly influential position on the Web.  If we can avoid the design mistakes we’re aware of, then fewer mistakes will reach the Web in the first place.  Take a careful look at the hints and suggestions here, and allow them to be your guide. Then, simply lead the way.

Obscure Contact Info

Even in the universe of e-commerce, the customer comes first.  Leaving them out of the picture in any way can easily jeopardize the future success of your business.  Contact info is an essential aspect of that business, but unfortunately many e-tailors keep it tightly under wraps.  Many sites flat out fail to provide a way for customers to get in touch, or they make it a hidden feature.  This lowers consumer confidence.  What they really need to know is that you’re running a real company, and they can talk to a real person when there’s a problem.

How to Handle It

Every page of your website should have contact information, either by link, button or tab.  If at all possible, use a contact form, mailing address and telephone number.  Using multiple means of contact can build consumer trust.  Ensure that the information is in a prime position on every page such as the top of a sidebar, in your header or in the footer.

No Store Policy

Customers need to have adequate access to methods used for handling returns and any other information necessary for the purchase process, including disclaimers.  Store rules are a must because they put customers on notice about the way the store operates.  Again, this builds consumer confidence.  Give them a chance to know what to expect, so that they can easily act accordingly.  Without essential ingredients, unhappy customers will raise the same disputes and lodge complaints again and again.

How to Handle It

Include an FAQ page or pages.  This will provide customers with the answers, they need to clear up doubts and follow through with a sale.  FAQ’s could be enhanced with links to pages within the site, videos or tutorials to really get the message across.  Keep your FAQs specific and to the point.  Remember, the goal is to provide as many solutions as possible before any complaints arise.

No Shipping Rates

As you would likely imagine, customers are not fond of surprise costs and hidden fees.  Shipping rates are no exception.  These days, shipping rates are a standard feature of almost every e-commerce site.  This is partly due to the nature of e-commerce transactions.  If a product is bought and sold online, it will likely have to be shipped to the customer after purchase.

How to Handle It

Let customers know ahead of time how much they can expect to pay for shipping.  It’s just one more thing that makes them feel comfortable enough to complete the sale.  A shipping calculator is always a nifty tool to have on hand, so locate a plug-in or widget that will get the job done.  Another option is to use a flat shipping rate or include a surcharge in the price.  If you do so, let the customers know about it by including it in your FAQ or on the store policy page.  The name of the game in e-commerce is never leave the customer in the dark.  Always keep them informed about everything.


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