Do You Make It Easy?

Marketing brings them in and customer service deals with making them happy. But, what elements are in place to make it easy for your customers to buy? 32% of all online customers are lost because the ordering or payment process is redundant or too difficult.  Make it easy for customers to purchase by improving their ordering experience.

Elementary definition: marketing primarily pertains to bringing in new customers. Customer service deals with subjects along the lines of keeping customers happy. However, there is one area where these two diverse topics merge: making it easy for your customers to buy.

It really is a fundamental subject to cover. Everyone’s customers must pay at some point or another. Many an online customer is lost because the ordering or payment process is too cumbersome for them to handle. I believe the last time I checked, the percentage of customers who dumped out of their shopping cart before payment was an overwhelming 32 percent! That’s a third of your customers.

What’s happening? Some reasons include Internet pros who get frustrated at long, drawn-out process that take forever; and newbies who simply freak out at all the steps and leave.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. I was recently at a site and wanted to place an order for an ink cartridge. Seemed like a simple enough task. I saw the “search” box in the corner so I typed in “Epson Ink Cartridge” and hit search. Up comes page after page of ink cartridges by EVERY manufacturer the store carried. What’s worse… they weren’t in any type of order. The Epsons were mixed among the HPs and the lasers were jumbled in with the ink jets. What a mess!

The site supposedly had extremely low prices so I was determined to see if I could find my cartridge. I dug through page after page and finally found the one I needed. The price was indeed very low. Thinking the worst was over, I added the item to my cart and clicked “check out.”

Next I came to a process where I had to fill out my name and shipping address. That wasn’t so bad. Then I was taken back to my cart to verify my purchases. This seemed a little redundant. Next I moved on to a page where I completed my billing address. There was no place to check a box if the billing and shipping address were the same so this became tiresome quickly. Finally, I entered my payment information. I did not yet have the amount the company planned to charge for shipping. On the final screen, I received the total and completed the order.

[Side Note: I can tell you from experience that *I* have left purchases unfinished once I found the amount charged for shipping. One site planned to charge me $9.95 to ship a book of about 40 pages! I – of course – left without the book.]

Most people would have left the site once discovering they had to search through an unorganized mess of cartridges. Those who endured might have dumped out after finding the repetitious forms. Needless to say, this was not an easy site to buy from.

What would have been better? You can probably guess. First, have the search function actually pull up what I searched for… by manufacturer. Second, have the entire form on one screen. All I would have had to do was click a few choices, enter my information and away we go! Also, allow me to click a box if my billing and shipping address are the same. Lastly, create a small screen in one corner of the page that keeps a running total (items, sales tax, shipping) of my purchases.

When you create an online ordering process, have a few friends or associates go through it for you. Have them make a small purchase as a simple test. (You can cancel it on your end). Getting some honest feedback on your ordering process can mean the difference between having one-third of your customers leave without paying, or increasing your sales by one-third.

If your ordering process is too cumbersome for newbies or too drawn out for savvy ‘Net surfers, you stand a big chance at losing business. Better to simplify things and keep those sales rolling in.

Copyright 2001 Karon Thackston

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