If you are in the on-line retail business you may very well spend hours (or pay somebody else to spend hours) creating a website that is attractive to look at at and optimized to attract search bots and humans and think that all is well. But have you actually tried to navigate your own website recently? Actually go through the process of making a purchase the way that your customers do? No? Maybe you should give it a try. You may find, as a great many on-line merchants do that your on-line storefront is not as great as you thought it was. And that may be hitting you where it really hurts – in the bottom line! Here are some tips for creating a more user friendly shopping experience whatever your website happens to sell!
One of the most frustrating aspects of online shopping for most people is having to fill out screen after screen’s worth of forms just to buy a single item. Name, address and credit card number are essentials, but there are some sites, even big box stores that make their potential customers jump through too many hoops to buy from them. Keep forms you want filled out to a minimum and do not ask your customers to fill out a thing until they are actually ready to check out.
You may also want to look at the idea of adding Facebook and/or Twitter integration onto your online retail site. By allowing shoppers to uses their social network account to set up an account with you you are removing one or two steps and you also might get a bit of a crafty peek into your shoppers lives (and buying habits) if their privacy settings allow. Its a technique the big boys are using so why shouldn’t you?
Finally make sure that the checkout process is as easy as possible (elementary school easy is advisable) and don’t fill the checkout with pop ups and distractions. Be sure to send an order confirmation email to your customer when the process is complete.
Keep an Eye On Your Inventory
If filling out a ream of forms is frustrating for your customers spending half an hour deciding to buy a product only to find as they are half way through the checkout process that it is out of stock is even more so. Keeping up to date on your inventory is essential. There is nothing wrong with still featuring a sold out product in your online storefront, just offer a rain check, but if products are constantly listed as in stock and they are not your customers are going to get very cranky indeed.
That is why from a small business point of view it is so essential that you have a website with a content management system that you and your employees can update yourself, without having to wait for “the developer guy” to deign to call you in response to your request that items be updated, prices changed, special offers added etc.
You do not need to spend a fortune on a good content management system for your online business. There are a lot of paid packages out there but Joomla and WordPress are both open source platforms that even if you are the least technically inclined person in the world once someone has run you through the process a time or two are easy to use and allows you the freedom to make all the changes you want, whenever and wherever you are.
In the end you really do want the buying process at your site to be as close to the experience a shopper has in the mall as possible – without the annoying teenage salespeople. Taking the time to tweak your retail site to make it more user friendly is truly worth the effort, as the improvement in the state of the health of your company’s bank account will demonstrate.Koehler Home Decor is a wholesaler of home decor accessories and unique gifts. Source quality wholesale merchandise at KoehlerHomeDecor.com and find tips for promoting your business on our blog.