Maybe I am overly cynical and maybe I just spend too much time handling websites, online vs retail has taken some odd twists over the years but has anyone else noticed that shopping seems to get harder when it should be the opposite?
Take many ecommerce websites for example: The landing pages are cluttered with images, popup banners and autoplaying videos with dodgy music that get us into trouble at work. A physical store however lets you walk through the door without being hit in the face with a banner, allows you to browse products without caring about what other people are buying, doesn't put a time limit on your sale and for the most part allows you to get a decent look at what we might like to buy without following you around the other stores and showing you retention ads while looking for toilet paper in Target, so why does a tried and trusted concept not transfer from brick & mortar to online.
Obviously with online adding to the cart and actually checking out is for the most part quick and simple, I still believe in retail shopping so and prefer to touch and feel most products before a purchase so why doesn't the in-store experience transfer to online and why has checkout become so much more painful in-store?
Making purchases should be easy
I recently made 2 purchases from completely unrelated stores and have what I can only describe as a pretty crappy experience on both occasions. A pair of Boots from a clothing retailer and a phone case from a pretty well known electronics store. Granted both were in-store and not online but there were good reasons which were Touch, feel and test.... The boots were something I should have done sooner but didn't get around to it so had no time to buy something that wasn't as expected or didn't fit and deal with online returns.
Trying the boots on was no problem, once I had found someone who was willing to help and waited all of 5 minutes for them to go check to see if they had my size, checkout was the problem. A small queue with a couple of squealing toddlers to navigate but the hard work was done.
Enter the in-store checkout
Customer walks in + customer asks a buying questions + customer tries on + customer takes to check out = Sale is about to be made, it doesn't get any better but you start to push your luck with...
Would you like to save by applying for some card?
= No thank you
What is your email address?
We need it to be able to send you offers?
= I don't want the offers thanks
What is your zip code?
= For what... ( FFS! )
The phone case was just as much fun, finding the cases was the easy part, now to take one off the display and have a look at it to find a locked display.. You can't see the case or work out if it is going to turn your phone into a brick. Off to find someone in a Blue T-Shirt... they are in an abundance when you want to be left alone, it can't be that hard. A few minutes later we are in business, if only they had the keys... I will be right back, a few minutes later it was unlocked and I was thinking I had the one I wanted...
Do you want that?
OK I will take it to the checkout
= Why am i not able to carry on looking around the store?
= O...K ( FFS! )
So for a $40 phone case my looking around this store is done, lets make sure that there is no possibility that I could be swayed or up-sold on anything. We get to the checkout and guess what...
Do you want to save by applying for...
Do you want to purchase insurance for that
What is your email
= ( FFS! )
This + convenience & well constructed marketing is why online is king, we don't have to deal with any body to get what we want but how often do we look at what we sell and how we sell it. Don't assume that because you have a better price or better material that you automatically win, It's almost harder for you now... You are not just selling the product, you are selling yourself as the business.
Shopify makes it easy to make sales
How well you set your self up to serve a customer will make or break your business. You can have a glossy new Shopify theme or a relic that needs serious updating but in the quest for knowledge your customers are looking for any excuse not to pick you over all of the other sites they can be browsing.
Can a customer find what they are looking for?
Does your Shopify theme offer search? If so use it, do you organize your collections in a way that makes sense to a new visitor and do they see up-sells on the product pages.
Are your images any good?
Make sure you allow a clear view of your products, multiple angles of hiqh quality images speak volumes, your customers may well want to see a close up so offer them a zoom in option and make sure your images are as good as they can be.
Are your product descriptions really descriptions?
Do you describe your products, what are the specifications, what is the material, what are the wash instructions and is it true to size?
Is this product any good?
Add a Shopify customer reviews app to your theme. Did you know that your reviewers inadvertently answer many questions about your products that you might not have thought of. Some will go to great lengths to describe exactly what was in the box - do your descriptions tell customers that?
What is your return policy?
Returns, nobody wants them but a good returns policy will open the doors to future business. Just because a customer returns something doesn't mean that they won't shop from you in future.
Can you deliver fast and inexpensively?
Offer clear visibility of your delivery costs and times, don't blow it in the check out by trying to hide it, that is just skewing your conversion rates and creating disappointment.
In short, make it simple for customers to find the product and easy for them to find relevant supporting content, don't ruin the experience by harassing them with popups and fake info on what others are shopping for right now. Focus on what you need and not what you think you need and you stand every chance of converting.