In our previous business strategy article, we talked about making the buying experience a seamless pleasure for your customers. Once again the best way to consider this is to think about the equivalent of buying the same products in a physical store. It all sounds like Motherhood and Apple Pie you might say, but you may be surprised at how much of this supposed common sense is missing from so many online stores!
So let’s walk through each stage step-by-step.
An attractive storefront will always entice customers more than one that is cluttered or messy. So make sure your home page is clean and bright and that important sales messages don’t disappear ‘below the fold’. Depending upon your traffic strategy, your customer may not land on your home page and may in fact never see it. If they have clicked through from another place to a particular product, then the landing page needs to have the same high-quality attributes.
Make sure your customers understand they are valued right from their first view of your site. Tell them how much you love them and how great the products are and what fantastic customer service you provide. Highlight any guarantees you offer on returns or exchanges and how fast your delivery can be. Do this all clearly and with the customer in mind. Imagine that was you!
The Store Layout
This is so important; when you walk into a store, you want to be able to find the products you are looking for easily and quickly but also enjoy the browsing experience if that’s why you are there. In the case of an online store your view at any one time is restricted to the page that you are looking at, and if you see the site on a mobile device then the screen real estate is even less. So it’s all about search criteria, Customers need to find the item they are looking for in the fewest clicks. You’ll obviously have a keyword search facility displayed somewhere clearly, but often that’s not the way someone wants to go. They would rather look at categories such as brands or product types or size or color or style first and then drill down from there. So think carefully about the order of search criteria and try to imagine where someone will logically start a search.
When you are in a physical store, the quality of the display and the information you are offered about a product could be the deciding factor in whether to buy; and it’s the same online. It’s more difficult because the customer cannot touch the product – so try to provide the absolute best photography you can afford with as many angles and perspectives as the site will allow. Think about settings and backdrops for the photography and make sure you include size guides, measurements and other relevant details that would take away any confusion or uncertainty
Ease of Payment
If you are in a store and see a long line of people at the checkout or, worse, you can’t even see the checkout then it may put you off buying a product; same for being online. Keep it clean and simple with as few clicks as possible. Make sure the move into a secure payment environment is as fast as possible with no screen delays in the transition. Offer as many options for payment as you can and above all, make sure the charge calculations are accurate. You may be surprised at how many sites wrongly calculate elements such as shipping charges or fail to deduct vouchers or discount codes.
The Follow Up
When you walk out of a physical store, you have your purchase in your bag, and it’s yours. So when the online transaction is complete, it’s always a good idea to let the purchaser know their transaction went through with a follow-up email. And don’t stop there. Let them know when it’s dispatched and don’t be shy about following up with a ‘thank you ‘once it’s been delivered.
Stick to these basics and you’ll create a buying environment that’s a seamless pleasure for your customers.