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eCommerce Blog – Opportunities in US and India (by Darpan Munjal)

15 reasons why I wouldn’t buy from your online store

Posted by Darpan Munjal On November - 1 - 2009
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Dear Online Retailer,

You can make a safe assumption that the reason I am visiting your online store is because I have an intention to buy something from you. All I need from you is to help me find what I am looking for and then take me from point A (Product Page) to point B (checkout). I am ready to fork over my money if you show me a clear path! So it is up to you to decide how easy or difficult you want my journey to be. Need a few tips? Here are few ideas to consider:

  1. Do not force me to register during the checkout process. If I click on checkout, that is usually a safe assumption that I have made a decision to purchase. Please get out of my way so you can take my money as quickly as possible before I change my mind. Don’t present me with unnecessary registration steps or other information that would slow me down. If you want to give me an option to register after the checkout is complete, sure I will consider it.
  2. Remember that Google is not your target customer – I am. Don’t write your product descriptions or other content containing tons of SEO keywords with a sole purpose to please Google. Sure you need to focus on SEO but the product description has to make sense to customers first. At the end of the day, you might get a good ranking on Google but if consumers don’t understand the content on your site, you will not win.
  3. Don’t let me add something to the cart if later you will tell me that it is out of stock. If you already know that something is out of stock, can you please show that upfront on the product page so we don’t waste each other’s time?
  4. Do you have categories which do not have any products online? Can you please disable those categories so that I don’t have to click those categories, just to find a “No Products Found” message?
  5. Just because you have a lot of promotions and products on your site, you don’t have to show all of them on your homepage!! Please keep the homepage clean and focus only on few key promotional or merchandise messages that truly tell a compelling story. If you have more than 100 links on your homepage, you are trying too hard!
  6. It would be nice to know when I will receive an item – not just when you plan to ship it. You know my zip code – you know the delivery times with UPS and FedEx, you know your processing time – so can you please show me a date when I should expect to see the item at my door instead of having me do all guesswork in my head?
  7. If I add something to the shopping cart, please show me the cart before showing any other recommendations or offers that I might be interested in. Don’t slow me down by showing 10 recommendations before I get to my cart page. I have a short attention span and if I get overwhelmed with too much unnecessary information, I might just leave.
  8. If you take my email address during checkout, please make good use of it! For example, if would be nice of you to follow up few days later to check if the item arrived properly, and if I would be interested in writing a review for the item. I don’t mind writing an honest review – you just have to ask and remind me! Which is a good segue to the next point.
  9. If I write a negative review about a product, please don’t go out of way to “moderate” the review to put a positive spin to my content. Please remember that customer reviews are supposed to be “unbiased” and any attempt from your side to hide or suppress the negative reviews is a sure way to lose trust with your loyal customers.
  10. Don’t wait until the final step in the checkout to show me the final price including the coupon discounts, taxes and shipping costs. I would like to know that information at the shopping cart page so there are no surprises during the final step. If you need my zip code in the shopping cart page to calculate these costs, just ask me and I will be happy to provide that information to you. Which leads me to the next point –
  11. If I have told you anything about myself such as my zip code, please try to remember it. Don’t make me re-enter that information at the time of checkout. There is a good probability that I will not change that information, but just give me an option to change it later if I need to.
  12. Please don’t try to hide your contact information just because you want to minimize the number of customer service calls. If you have an 800 number hidden somewhere on the site, please display it prominently. Customers need to know upfront that there is an easy way to contact you if something goes wrong with their order.
  13. When I am providing my credit card information, you really don’t have to ask me what type of credit card it is because you can figure it out from my credit card number. Just show me the credit card type for confirmation and I will let you know if there is a problem.
  14. While you are thinking about that checkout experience, can you also do something about that Captcha! It is nice to know that you are concerned about our security and want to make sure that I am a human. But for the sake of humanity, please don’t make me decipher that 10 characters Captcha image. Just try to keep it simple, if possible.
  15. If you display any AdSense ads on your retail store, can you please turn those off? That sends a mixed message to me as a customer. If you are truly an online retailer, your focus should be on selling products, not making a few bucks from customers who accidentally click on those ads and end up somewhere else.

Some of the above points may seem very obvious but it is amazing to see even large online retailers who end up building complex checkout processes, overlooking some of these points just because they have a “complex” business. If you think from customer’s perspective, they really don’t care about complexities in business – they are looking for a simple and intuitive shopping experience.

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29 Responses to “15 reasons why I wouldn’t buy from your online store”

  1. Praveen Modi says:

    Excellent thoughts and a very well written article. I make most of the purchases from Amazon probably because it follows most of point mentioned by you.

    I recommend this article to all the information architects in the world.

    -Praveen

  2. carriagada says:

    this is a great article, with very clear information that help us to improve our e-commerce sites.
    Thank you

    Cristián.

  3. Pravin Raaj says:

    Thank you so much!

  4. Vivek says:

    Hi Darpan,

    These are excellent observations. Most of the points have been covered but let me see if I can add something. When one is on a retail site, the site either ‘feels’ good or not. The following points improve the ‘feel good factor’ and are in no particular order:

    1 – Transactional Trust: When one moves on to the checkout page, the browser address bar should change from ‘http’ to ‘https’ and the padlock should appear at the bottom right of the page. There should be 3rd party certification logos linking to the certificate providers and confirming that the certificate is currently valid.

    2 – Don’t show any ‘help us improve with your feedback’ kind of pop-ups as the visitor lands on your site. This is very annoying. After the checkout has been done or the person has killed the window, yes then it may be shown.

    3 – Breadcrumbs: Make navigating the site easier by using breadcrumbs.

    4 – If the session is lost midway when the customer is entering the details on the transaction page, make sure that the information that was keyed in earlier was saved.

    5 – Categorise the products intuitively. In which category will a ‘Toaster’ fall – ‘Kitchen Appliances’ or ‘Small Electrical Appliances’? When in doubt provide additional links allowing different navigation pathways to reach the product.

    Hope someone finds this useful.

    Best!
    Vivek

  5. Hi Darpan,
    Lately I was not getting enough time to follow your blog but finally I m back. Just finished reading the above article…quite obvious points but you right pointed out that most large ecommerce companies fail to address them. Especially customer facing issues like showing negative customers review, out of stock issues & displaying Toll free number across the site for assistance.
    I recently launched an online store for precious jewellery for a very large jewellery retailing company in Indian. The URL of the store is http://www.buydiamondjewellery.in . The site primarily targets Indian living abroad. While designing the site I took care of lot of points mentioned above in the article except quick checkout…which I am going to implement surely in next couple of days…may be tomorrow itself. Would have done it before going live if I had not missed your article…anyways it’s never too late.
    I would really appreciate if you can take a look at the site and share your feedback for further improvement.

  6. Rahul Rao says:

    Sigh. If only all ecommerce stores follow these rules. The reality can be a bit different, though. Especially while planning the business ground up.

  7. All, thank you for your comments!

    @Vivek, thank you for adding your observations. You make very valid points.

    @Dharmender, I checked out your site http://www.buydiamondjewellery.in and I have to say I am very impressed. You have set a good example for eCommerce sites in India when it comes to site experience and usability. Way to go!

    Darpan

  8. ARR says:

    comment:simply i loveee itttt.

  9. Pradeep says:

    Well said Darpan.
    All of the points you have mentioned are very meaningful and if implemented properly, it will increase the user experience incredibly.
    Thanks

  10. fantastic article and so valid ! we are launching one soon, and will keep this as our checklist :)

  11. Spot on! You hit several of my regular “don’t do this” items on your list, and some that I usually don’t remember– good work, I will pass on and use in the future for clients.

  12. Deependra says:

    @Dharmender – Feedback for your website http://www.buydiamondjewellery.in

    Couple of Improvements which I think can make your website even better

    1. Option of adding a greeting card or a personalized message will be a great value addition. Couples living apart or NRI’s may find it really convenient. As per my understanding this is a major customer segment and for current customer to become repeat customers rich shopping experience is more important compared to just great product offerings

    2. Option for faster delivery even if customer is willing to pay extra. I tried to order a “1.390ct. Diamond Solitaire Ring in 18kt Yellow Gold” ring but was not given an option of faster delivery. For e.g. If the customer did a mistake of not planning his anniversary in advance, “buydiamondjewelley” should lend a helping hand and give him options to make up for that mistake.

    3. If the user forgets his password the website should give him an option to generate a new one. It is much easier and definitely faster e.g. Amazon.com. Currently user has to go through the painful process of retrieving his password. Distracting user from website can result in lost customer

    Overall Great attempt.

    Regards,
    Deependra

  13. Gary Wilson says:

    This is very good information. I have an online store and have tried not to do those things. You can take a look and see at http://thewilsonenterprises.com. I feel that 1 of the most important is to be up front with your customers and honesty.

  14. Rachel Shaw says:

    This is a good article

  15. abdul mues says:

    yeah its great article,,my future plan to create a most safe,customer friendly online store for indian customers..

  16. Balaji says:

    This is a very interesting article.

    I think the reasons why we Indians don’t shop online are:

    1) product authenticity
    2) credit card fraud fears
    3)Our traditional belief that we have to touch a product before buying it.
    4) Its a completely new thing.
    5) fears about delivery through courier( whether the item breaks during the transit)
    6) We expect immediate delivery
    7) We don’t want to pay for shipping.
    8) Shopping is an experience
    9) many people believe that the retailers provide the servicing for the products.

    Reasons why we should shop online
    1) ease of use.
    2) using credit cards online is safer than swiping it at a department store or other physical retail store
    3) we can actually get products at a cheaper price as an online retailer does not have as muh fixed costs as a regular retailer.
    4) we can pay lower VAT as it is calculated based on the final product price.
    5)It is the future and we have to get used to it.
    6)It saves time
    7)MAINLY YOU CAN SAVE MONEY
    8)some sites have online live support and they will answer all our questions.
    9) Shop anytime of the day
    10)We can buy it online and ask the retailer to ship it to any address we want.
    11)Get offers like group shopping which is not available to us otherwise.
    12) compare prices from other stores in a jiffy.
    13) You can use netbanking which the safest way of paying. Its a bank to bank trasaction.
    14) some online retailers give us the option to pay cash on delivery.
    15) some physical retailers don’t give us receipts, to evade taxes. An online retailer will aways give a receipt and our country will get more taxes and hence will have more money for its expenditures.

  17. TheQuestioner says:

    Interesting article Darpan,

    Although your points are reasonable observations, some of the issues you have mentioned are due to necessary security implementations. The problem with the web is that it’s a nasty world filled with all types of fraud and hacking. As a result, many ecommerce sites have to cover their backs.

    For example, issue (1) about registration is due to valid security concerns.

    Registering basically involves a username (email), password, and a shipping address. The username and address are used to correspond and deliver the physical products. The password is necessary in-case the user wants to check the state of his/her order securely. Without a password, the buyer will have no way of independently checking his/her order details. Providing the buyer with multiple ways to check their order progress is a sign of confidence.

    Ideally, a visitor adds products to the cart, goes through the checkout, enters his/her email, preferred password, shipping address, payment details and then the order is completed.

  18. We have strived to make our checkout process as painless as possible and we would never show ads on our online store as we see this as tacky and unprofessional. It seems that we have followed a lot of your above mentioned tactics minus a few but would still love to hear any feedback. Our website is at http://stores.s7computersolutions.com
    Note: not a link drop, just asking for real reviews and suggestions from moderator and any reading this blog. Also any retailer who edits or tries to put a positive spin on bad reviews isnt worried about customer service but their bottom line and we find this ridiculus as honest reviews and answers to those reviews bring back regular customers.

  19. Sunil Shenoy says:

    Really nice article. Quite like the points you make. Some which I quite like are

    “Do you have categories which do not have any products online? Can you please disable those categories so that I don’t have to click those categories, just to find a “No Products Found” message?”

    and

    “Just because you have a lot of promotions and products on your site, you don’t have to show all of them on your homepage!! Please keep the homepage clean and focus only on few key promotional or merchandise messages that truly tell a compelling story. If you have more than 100 links on your homepage, you are trying too hard!”

    Going through other posts on the blog as of now.

    Sunil

  20. This web article should have a pr 9, man I am routing for you. Wow definitely clean, and significance thoughts that you have put into paper. This is crucial for anyone that wants to create an ecommerce store!

  21. Nancy says:

    Thank you! #12 is my particular pet peeve. I will NEVER buy from a site that doesn’t have a customer service phone number. If there is one, and I can’t find it easily, a sale has just gone down the drain.

  22. Prince says:

    Hi Darpan,
    have just launched an e commerce portal – letsshop.in would love your views on the same.

  23. This article hits it on the nail – there are so many websites out there that are not very user-friendly. Some take a lot of clicks to get to the product pages which makes the conversion trail much too long. If this is the case, your visitors may lose interest and leave the buying trail before converting into a sale! Great article – thanks.

  24. eCommerce says:

    I do not think that anyone can find out the tips that have been shared here. I am 100% agreed on your first tip that registration page at check out should not be there. It should be avoided by store owners so their customers security.

  25. sunil gangji says:

    good article…. definitely i will consider all ur points while developing my on line site… thnx

  26. shweta says:

    a wonderful article…loved it!

  27. Suman Majumder says:

    Thanks for sharing. Will like to comply shortly.

  28. Suman Majumder says:

    And Balaji thanks to you too.

  29. rajeshretailrange says:

    hi
    this is good see your all views and interesting one.

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