4 minute read.

Series: Mistakes with e-commerce. Part 2. Poor Website Implementation.

Paul Anthony / June 16, 2008

Posted in: Archive

Following on from our first post on mistakes with e-commerce there are a few things that many retailers get wrong when it comes to the website itself.

Poor Website Implementation

1). Making the Checkout long winded.

Amazon is awesome. Why? Because of one-click checkout. You should be looking for an e-commerce platform that has this sort of functionality, it will increase your conversion rate by up to 7%. Even having all of the checkout on one page (review order, add address, add credit card) makes it alot easier for people to buy.

2). Over validating.

Be careful with validation. Sometimes validation is evil, and goes hideously wrong, yes you want to avoid errors being sent to your lovely shiny webstore, and you want to avoid the absolute idiot who wraps his head off the keyboard when he’s typing his credit card…but make sure you test thoroughly. I’ve seen webstores which have required an issue number on Maestro / Switch..(some don’t have any issue), some that wont accept Northern Ireland Postcodes..(shame on you!), and others that simply don’t allow you to checkout without first signing up..A major no no. Failing to test on these and other validation issues will result in lost sales, and peed off customers.

3) Friendly Errors

The world of the software development is often littered with so called technical issues.. Errors will crop up from time to time, be it dropped connections, or missing settings after an update. We all need to accept that sometimes – Shit happens. How you go about handling those problems will be how you are remembered.

Something that isn’t however acceptable in the online world are massive server error pages. The reasons for this are twofold. Firstly- you risk exposing the details of the webserver to unfriendlies – i.e. Hackers. the second is that it looks unprofessional to any potential customers visiting the site, and may influence whether they decide to come back to the website again. Remember that online customers are continuous assessing how trustworthy you are to do business with. Server error = no trust. Redirect them to a server 500 page, log the error, and show the customer something friendly.

4). Poor search implementation

If you include a search box on your website, it had better work. Many users go straight to the search box of a website, mainly because it means “I don’t want to be constrained by this sites navigation structure, I just want to find what I’m looking for.” So if you are going to implement a search feature on your site, you should be doing so in such a way that searches most if not all of your text based fields in your database. i.e. Search will return results for product name, or anything matching the search description. Usability expert Jacob, recommends in his alertbox column that you use a “box” as opposed to a “search link”, as when people scan the page – that is what they are looking for.

5). A slow site

A slow website almost always means a poor reputation. If your website is quick to load, then it projects (rightly or wrongly) the image that your customer service will also be as quick, or that the customers order will arrive promptly. It also results in increased consumer spend, as people will be more likely to navigate further into your site and around your products. Have a look over here for 12 ways to speed up a slow website. That means – avoid flash like the plague, and keep your image sizes to a minimum. It’s important to strike a balance with images, as too high resolution will put customers off because they are slow to load, whilst too small images won’t encourage sales. So strike a balance by perhaps having larger images available in a new window, for customer who are willing to wait.

Continue and read part three. On why post sale is massively important to retailers.

  • checkout
  • E-commerce
  • implementation
  • search
  • slow site
  • usability
  • website

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