Where is the price ? And other major blunders for E commerce

# 1 E business mistake:

Make me have to look for the price:

I have said it before, but it bears repeating. Nothing irritates a viewer more than to read all the excellent sales copy, promoting your goods, services or software, only to read it all and still have to ask the most important question.. how much is it ? To have to literally hunt around to find out how much a thing is, is beyond reasonable. I just spent five minutes on a website looking at a particular software, a sales category that is especially bad at this tactic.

It was an item I need and wish to buy, but couldn't find the price, anywhere. All I got was free download, try it and you will amazed. I was amazed all right, at the price, when I finally figured out how to find out, it was way over my budget.  It was a perfectly good program, but I will never visit the site again, as they tried to trick me into downloading the trial, before they would tell me how much this little gem would cost me. Most peoples reaction to this ploy is the same as mine.. Forget you !

# 2
Teeny tiny text:

This site above made this mistake too. Font sizes, I have my browser set to give me fonts at minimum of medium size, so if the font stays tiny it means that the fonts have been frozen at that size. Big mistake, for one very simple reason. The largest growing number of online possible customers is ?? Seniors, persons from age 60 and on up.

Those of the teen and mid range age groups are already online, so the one group that is growing and will continue to grow are Sr's and news they have money to spend, a lot more than the teenagers ! Any site that does not take them into account, with variable and or larger font sizes and the like, is asking to watch their sales figures drop.

# 3
No way to know about the company:

I look for certain things on a site I might do business with. Are there privacy polices ? Do they have a return policy, any guarantees ? How about shipping costs, are they posted ? Are there any real sounding testimonials and pictures of the company or sellers, that let me get an idea that this company is for real, especially when dealing with single person shops.

This was yet another cyber mistake of the above sale site. No company info, shipping, etc. Nothing but sales talk. Now I know from personal experience that most people don't read such things as the policies and the like. But the fact that they are there builds confidence in the customer, that yours is a serious business.

# 4
Send unwanted mail:

This one is about a promise of a lost customer. To send out emails they did not ask for. To send needed emails, or  holiday mails is one thing. To send repeated emails after the sale, hounding your customer, is quite another.

Example: Again from the software industry. You download a trial software. They send a polite note, hoping that the download worked correctly, etc. Which is  good business. Then they send another, asking if you want add on's, then another, are you ready to buy, and another.. do you see the trend here ? Do not bombard your customer with emails. I have deleted software I downloaded for this reason alone, as the seller would not let me just use the software and make up my own mind.

The Hard sell does not work .. period, you will only annoy and possibly lose a customer.

# 5
Automated e-mailers and auto responders:

Now these are perfectly reasonable tools for standard emails. Order conformation mails and such like come to mind. However, if there is no way to contact a live human being, you have a real problem in the trust dept. If every time I write to the company I get an auto response, I get a real bad feeling about it all and so does anyone else, as it feels like there is no one minding the store. It's the online version of those hateful phone answering services, that you have to push numbers to get recorded messages, when what you want and need, is a live human being !

# 6

Forced Newsletters:

Now this is about annoying. If I like your goods and services, I will sign up for your newsletter on my own. To make me have to sign up for it as part of the sale, and thereby get mail after mail of your sales talk is enough to drive a body crazy. Especially since most often they are sent as html files, with all kinds of animation's and other such things, meaning they take forever to download, not to mention are a prime target for hitch hiking virus's.

I cannot count the number of these things I have gotten that were of no value to me whatsoever, and then to top it off, the company made it hard to un-subscribe from it. I want repeat customers as much as the next person and I get them, but never would I hold my customers inbox hostage for it.

# 7

Mandatory Fields:

Meaning on your order form, you demand things beyond what's needed to process the order and or force all fields to be filled out to process it, that may not be needed.

Example: Phone number, I cannot count how many such mandatory fields I have filled out with 000-00-0000
as my phone number, as the form will literally not let me order without it. This is unneeded information, if the order can be done online via email, there is no reason email should not be good enough to contact me. If I need you, I will call you and give you my number for a call back, otherwise, no.

Another example: Fax number, I don't know about you, but your average person doesn't have a Fax machine sitting on their desk, so having a mandatory field for that is pointless. Yet another I have seen, cell phone.. it's called come on now, how many ways do you need to have to contact me ? How much personal information do I have to give up here to place an order with you ? I just want to order a toaster, not hand you more personal data than I would give a first date !

Only, name, email, what they want, what size, color, payment information, and where to send it, should be required information, anything else should be voluntary.

# 8

Listing items you don't have in stock without notice:

This is a major no no, having items listed that are not available without telling them. Nothing will anger your viewer more than to see something they want, and have them order it and only then finding out, you don't have it to give them. Your credibility drops through the floor. 

If a product is limited in stock, tell your viewer how many you have and keep updating that number. Once you don't have anymore, your best bet is to take it off the site, until you do have more in stock. This does not apply if you are a vendor with a drop shipper, who is out of stock, since you have no control over that. But in either case, tell the viewer, up front, the item is on back order or whatever, do not make them find this out, AFTER, they have ordered it and paid for it. You might make that one sale, but trust me, they will not likely be back.

# 9

Failure to get outsider feedback on your sites usability:

You, as the business holder had the site designed and or built it yourself, so you know how it all works. However, you need outside conformation. You need parties not evolved in the process to assess the site for its usability. I design sites and do site reviews for this very reason, a second opinion. ( the review is free for most people by the way). And I welcome feedback on any of the sites I create.

You need other eyes to view and use the site, without any directives from you, and need to listen carefully to what they tell you, because you are not the site user, they are.  No matter how perfect you think it is, there will always be bits that could be better and a wise business seeks out and listens to those suggestions.

A website is a forever changing and evolving process to present a fresh view, with as much usability as possible for the only one who matters, your customer.

# 10

Customer Service:

The one area that E commerce falls on its face compared to live shops. Service to the customer.

Example: I recently purchased an item online for the first time with a business, and received an auto response confirmation. So far so good and expected, however, the purchase did not show up on my credit card, for days, which worried me, as most such transactions, online or off, show up within two days, at most. Anything more and I have no verification that they charged my account correctly.

I questioned this via email and was told, with a canned letter, it was in process. I waited, still no show on my credit card and sent another request for information, was sent yet another canned mail  that said it was in process ... and so it went for ten days, with me wondering what in the heck are they doing with my credit card information, to fail to process for so long and finally I get yet another canned mail that tells me it was shipped and my credit card was charged.  ( Thankfully, the correct amount )

It arrived some four days later. Now, I will assume that their company policy is not to charge the account, until the item is shipped, which would have been fine, if anyone had bothered to inform me about it.

Now, look at the problem here, only canned responses to my questions, with no explanation as to what was taking so long to process the order, and no attempt to provide me with assurances that my credit card was not and would not be misused. The letters didn't even address me by name and were not signed with anyone's name that I could contact...nothing.

Mind you, the business in question, is not a fly by night, but a very long standing mail order catalog company, who, like many mail order houses, have recently come online. So this kind of failure to communicate is inexcusable. My "trust" in the business, dropped through the floor, as they put me through over two weeks of uncertainity, that was uncalled for.

It is unlikely I will do business with them again, especially since, while I was waiting for this order, I ordered something elsewhere, a very similar shop, received personal conformation and it was charged to my account and shipped in less than two days. I only received part of the order however, and was advised, before I could even ask, the reason for the compartmented shipment and expected ship date for the rest of my order, as well as was invited to use a means on site, to track my order, via UPS so I could see for myself where it was and about when to expect it. All via personal letters, with proper dates, names of the order processor, and contact information etc.

That is a place I will do business with again .. the other ?... Not very likely.

More soon


Return to how to design a website