Convenient and Simple Shopping for E-Commerce Sites

Gerard Tollefsen - October 24, 2008

Today more than ever, sales are harder to come by and you should make sure you are not losing sales because your e-commerce site is not user friendly.  When you look at some of the most successful e-commerce sites, the overwhelming trend is that their shopping carts and buying processes are simple and easy to use.  Every year more people are relying on the internet to find and buy products and the new “converts” to online shopping often have a healthy dose of skepticism about the process.  They may have finally accepted the concept of buying a product online, but if they get too far out of their comfort zone, they will abandon your shopping cart in a heartbeat.  My wife is a perfect example of this new “online shopper”.

She recently made an online purchase for my parent’s anniversary and I asked her why she chose the company she decided to purchase from.  Not surprisingly, this company was not her first choice, but she decided to buy from them because it was easy and fast.  Initially, she was in the process of buying from another site, but dropped out of the ordering process because she got confused with all of the steps involved.  The site had a product she wanted, she started to make the purchase but in the end another company got her order!  When asked what confused her, she said there were too many steps and she became frustrated “with the whole deal”.

While some of these tips may seem over simplified, here are some ideas to keep in mind to ensure you don’t lose sales because your site isn’t user friendly:

  1. Do not require the shopper to register before they make a purchase.  Instead, allow the registration process to be optional.  Most people shopping online, once they find what they are looking for just want to place the order and get moving.  While capturing customer data is important, it is still trumped by sales and shouldn’t be an obstacle to gain a new customer.
  2. Keep the order screens clean and simple.  There is nothing wrong with having a small section of “related products” to show the shopper as they are finalizing their order but if you bombard them with 20 other product “specials” all over the page this can confuse the shopper.
  3. Provide a clear and simple pre-confirmation page, showing all products being purchased with taxes and shipping (if applicable), so the shopper knows exactly what they will be charged before they click the “Place Order” button.  This is an important step to instill confidence in the shopper that they are only being charged for what they purchased and allows them to review the order before they checkout.
  4. Provide the shopper an online confirmation page and online receipt and make it clear that the receipt is printable.  People expect a hard copy receipt when they make a purchase at their local store, it shouldn’t be any different when they purchase online. If they provided their email address during the order process, send a back up email confirmation and receipt to their email address.

These are just a few ideas to consider when streamlining your site’s ordering process.  The main objectives are convenience, simplicity, and user friendliness.  By doing so, you can help avoid customers getting frustrated with your site and buying from another company!

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