February 2, 2012
You’ve developed the products, started the company, and created the website. Once you’ve managed to drive traffic to your site (another series of posts entirely!) are you making it easy for customers to purchase online?
This article was inspired from an online purchase of a specialty item I was trying to make from a large housewares company. I say ‘specialty’ because this is the type of product you buy once every ten years. So not something I’d be back to purchase anytime soon.
The web buying experience was straight forward and streamlined until I got to the check out where I was required to create an account complete with a username and password. There was simply no getting around this – no option to check out as a guest. Rather than simply being able to input my credit card information and get on with my weekend, I had to go through a lengthy sign up process.
While the business side of me understands that they want to capture this information so I can be added to their marketing database, the customer part of me was completely irked by this delay in checking out. If there had been other options for me to purchase this item from another store at that point I would have abandoned my shopping cart and gone elsewhere. Why was I, as a customer, being forced to create an account profile complete with a password that I will never remember when I got back to that store in 10 years. Don’t we all already have enough passwords we can’t remember?
This led me to think about shopping online from small food businesses. For many of us who have a web commerce system integrated into our sites, we’re using separate ‘off the rack’ third party systems like PayPal to securely process the order for us. We look at the entire process, start to finish, from the business side but how many of us have made a purchase from our own site with a focus on the other side – the customer experience part of the equation? And how many of us have asked friends and family to purchase (refunding them of course!) so they can test out the system and provide us with feedback.
Granted, with an ‘off the rack’ checkout system there may be parts you can and cannot change in the program but if you or your testers are running into a lot of technical glitches or frustrations (such as requiring an account) then chances are your customers are too and you may just want to investigate other checkout options. The last thing you want to do is have your company’s online buying experience leave customers with a bad taste in their mouth.