In last year’s issue of my favorite publication, Internet Retailer (a must-have for those selling on the Web), they had a short box insert on the don’ts of online retail that I want to share with you.
Here are some of the common mistakes of retailers that result in lost sales:
1. Don’t assume customers want to spend the rest of their life on your site = Most of the big online stores do a good job with speed; it is more of a problem with small sites. Smaller sites cannot afford to purchase Akamai license for load balancing or other tech goodies to make the site work faster. So it is important to check if there’s bloat in the code and unnecessary elements in site design. Just focus on elements that will drive the sale.
2. Don’t force customers with elements like log-in or email address before checkout. I don’t really mind this as Amazon or Gap.com asks you to sign in. But I suppose some will think of it as hindrance. I would be interested to see any study that shows that customers indeed abandon their shopping carts when asked to login prior.
3. Don’t use your business language – use your customer language. I often make the mistake of writing something that I think is clear to me, only to be met with a “Huh?” look from my husband. I think asking someone not connected with your business to act as a a potential customer and see how clear the copy and how easy to understand the writing on the site.
4. Don’t let technology drive your business – let your customers drive it : this of course is more applicable to big businesses rather than small businesses. Small businesses can hardly afford the basic technologies of running an ecommerce business, more so the bells and whistles customization often seen in big websites
5. Don’t overbuild; think what customers want. The flash intro that nobody wants but only shows how “cool” the site is. Not.
6. Don’t let engineers write your error messages (“Please enter your password; must be at least 8 characters” vs. “This string is shorter than the minimum allowed length”). This is so true even for information sites, not just online retailers.
7. Don’t stock customers’ inboxes. My pet peeve. I know I’ve bought items from some sites, but sometimes I want to scream “enough is enough!” There’s this company that sends me 2-3 emails a day that I really had to block them (I’m typically very patient and simply deletes emails I don’t like).
8. Don’t lie to customers about shipping costs, shipping duration, merchandise availability, steps in the process = I remember an experience I had with Overstock when I purchased gift items from them last Christmas. Fedex’s tracking said that the item was already delivered on the day when my family stayed at home. I was confused and furious thinking that the item may have been lost! Apparently Fedex made a mistake and the item arrived 3 days later.
9. Don’t use “Click here” as a link or button label. Use the action or destination that it will trigger