Shipping is Part of the User Experience

A lot gets discussed about having clear information about your shipping destinations and prices. I also often touch on making sure you communicate throughout the ordering and shipping process so your customer knows what’s happening and how their order is progressing. But I’ve not talked much about what happens to the goods once leave your business. Until now.

We recently purchased some printer inks online. They took a little longer than we expected to arrive but we can live with that. But the actual goods arrived in a crumpled, homemade box that used to be a box carrying wines. It looked cheap and amateurish and we had to wonder if the inks we paid for were the brands we thought they were or cheap copies. Keep in mind this was not a cheap order – we spend over $200.

The moral of the story. The user experience with your business does not end when the goods leave your warehouse. How they are packaged and presented have an impact on how your business and goods are perceived. Take time to package things professionally. It’s not hard.

Exceeding Your Customers Expectations

I bought two products online last Friday: a tube of shaving cream for my hubby from Hong Kong and a tube of moisturiser for me from Hoppers Crossing (a 15 minute drive from where I live).

Both offered free shipping which, whilst not a deciding factor, was certainly a nice bonus. So which one do you think turned up first thing Monday morning? Nope, it was the shaving cream from Hong Kong. Usually I wouldn’t have expected it until tomorrow. Seriously.

Now I’m not critising the Hoppers Crossing place – I purchase from there regularly and always receive my goods in a timely fashion, but less than one business day from Hong Kong, that’s sensational. It’s the type of online shopping experience I want to tell all my friends about. Thanks StrawberryNET!

5 Common Mistakes of E-Commerce Websites

I consult to a lot of companies running e-commerce websites. Usually it’s not performing as expected and they want me to tell them why. While each website is different 5 common mistakes come up time and time again. Perhaps it’s time for you to do a quick check of your e-commerce site and make sure you’ve covered the following:

No Physical Contact Details

Far too many e-commerce websites have no physical contact details. If you’re wanting people to hand over their credit card details you need to provide information about your company and how people can get in touch with you. This is how you establish trust between your site and your prospects.

A common argument against providing a phone number is communicating via email keeps costs lower. A fair point. An approach I recommend is to include your contact details as well as a message along the following lines:

“Our preferred method of contact is via email and we provide prompt replies, normally within a few hours. As an online business, communicating via email enables us to keep our prices low, so please use this as your first method to contact us. However, should you ever need to reach us via phone, fax or post you’ll find all our contact details below.”

Make sure you state how fast emails are replied to so your prospects have an idea of how quickly their issue will be dealt with.

In 98% of case there will be no need for people to contact you, but providing these details will make your prospects much more comfortable handing over their precious credit card details.

No Clear Shipping Locations or Prices

Nothing peeves me more than getting to the end of placing an order to discover you don’t ship to my location. In fact my fists are clenching as I write this!

Clearly state where you ship and the cost of shipping to each of those locations. Place this information where it can easily be seen and label it clearly.

No Returns Policy

Again, encouraging people to order at your website is all about gaining their trust. Sometimes, for whatever reason, someone may want to return what they have ordered from you.

Prospects will feel far more comfortable buying from your site if you clearly state what your return policy is and how items can be returned.

No Testimonials

One of the best ways to show prospects they can trust you, and feel comfortable doing business with you, is to show them what other happy customers have said about your company, service and products. After all, these are independent, 3rd party opinions of you!

If you currently don’t have any testimonials start collecting them from now. You could also approach some of your long time customers and ask for one. Keep in mind testimonials that address specifics are far more credible than ones that say something generic such as “great product, thanks”.

If you’re selling online include testimonials that cover areas such as: ease of ordering, fast shipping, prompt responses to questions and/or issues and how great your products are.

Complicated Checkout Process

A common complaint I hear is having to register before placing an order. The less data people have to enter the more likelihood they will complete their order. There is plenty of time to collect additional information at a later stage.

Many out of the box e-commerce packages make first time customers sign up for an account before ordering. If your website makes prospects register before ordering I highly recommend you modify your checkout process.

These 5 simple steps will go a long way in establishing trust between you and your prospective customers which in turn will boost the number of orders you receive. Win, win really. :)