The beginning of spring always gets me into consumer mode. I start thinking about trips, I do a lot of online comparison shopping, and it’s the one time a year I have a tendency to spend money on stuff I probably shouldn’t spend money on. C’est la vie.
In the midst of this year’s shopping frenzy I’ve encountered some great deals, some cool new gear and some really horrible enterprise ecommerce missteps. Of course we all know that running an ecommerce business isn’t as easy as building a website, driving a little traffic and sitting back to reap the rewards, so I’m always a bit surprised when I encounter sites that still seem to travel that road.
It would be fairly simple to produce an extensive list of basic principles and tactics that some online stores still tend to overlook or ignore, but we’ll keep it to a smattering of misguided techniques I encountered repeatedly over the past week.
1. Confusing Site, Far From User Friendly
Don’t get me wrong, drop downs are a great way to reveal information, but when there are so many that they’re consistently covering the important stuff like navigation links, product images or descriptions, or even the check out button, then we’ve got problems. I know these are trivial details that can be remedied simply by me moving the mouse, but they’re are also the kind of simple cosmetic improvements that can create a clear path to a sale rather than turn it into a journey full of dodging obstacles.
2. Product Hodge-Podge
If I’m looking for bike components I don’t want you to offer me a down comforter.
Enterprise ecommerce sites like Target and Amazon have mastered the art of selling ridiculous amounts of goods while still keeping it categorically usable and making meaningful recommendations based on the products you’re looking at. If that’s not something you’re doing it might be a good idea to consider putting some effort into fixing recommendations, or focusing on a specific product line. Otherwise you might risk annoying people away from the site.
3. Irrelevant Results from Site Search
This one closely relates to number two. Site search is an opportunity to capitalize on the shopper who knows what they’re looking for. Don’t blow it by offering products that are not even remotely close to the keyword or phrase I just typed in. Worse yet, don’t force me to go looking for a few good results that are peppered in among 10 pages of otherwise unrelated products. Believe me, if what I’m looking for is on page three of those results, it’s likely I’m not ever going to look that far.
4. Cockeyed Rendering in Safari
Really? The page doesn’t render correctly using Safari? I understand that in 2010 the standard Apple browser accounted for less than 4% of all users, but this one still gets me every time. If I have to close my Safari browser to open up Firefox, there’s a good chance I’m not coming back to see you again unless the rest of your site is flawless–and I find a coupon code. I’m just saying.
5. All I Want to do is Pay
If I’ve found a great deal, I have it in my cart, and I’m starting the checkout process, do I really have to create an account before I can buy? All of the sudden the thrill is gone. If I like a site and decide to use it regularly then I will almost certainly register at some point, but I do so at my own discretion and not because I was forced to in order to complete a transaction. When someone has a credit card in hand and just wants to buy a pair of shorts, be careful not to patronize them by requiring information unrelated to the sale.
At HotWax Media, we are experts at helping our clients build and maintain sites that appease even the most hypercritical shoppers, like me. Contact us today to find out how our staff can help you identify enigmas and apply solutions to all your ecommerce mysteries.
Jared Matkin is a staff writer for HotWax Media with a background in PR, Branding and Marketing. He’s also a light-hearted and an opinionated character who will join other HotWax Media employees and advisers in periodically posting his thoughts on topics ranging from enterprise eCommerce to business and technology.