Bounce rate, abandoned carts, a lack of repeat customers—there's no shortage to the worries an e-commerce site has to deal with. It's easy to blame a broad, uncontrollable force like a sluggish economy, but sometimes it’s actually these sites themselves that are their own worst enemy. Ecommerce fulfillment can only accomplish so much in the drive to secure customer satisfaction—a streamlined warehouse can't compensate for a fundamentally broken shopping experience. Think you've got things handled? Take a glance at the three most common roadblocks to sales online.
Take My Money, Already!
When a browser decides to evolve into a buyer, the last thing you want to do is distract or redirect them from that goal. If your checkout process is overly complicated, however, you might be doing just that. Explore the process of placing an item in a cart and continuing on through to checkout—is the buy button easy to find? Does the cart clearly display its contents and offer a chance to edit those items without exiting the checkout process? Something as simple as a cursor that jumps box-to-box to facilitate phone number entry can help eliminate buyer frustration. For customers, your checkout process should be an afterthought in pursuit of ownership, not a challenge to "win" the right to buy an item.
Marketing Whack-a-Mole? No Thanks.
Pop-ups have been earning themselves a bad rap since before ecommerce really took off, due in no small part to the deafening presence they once inflicted on the web. These days, pop-ups are more about actual value-added propositions and less about neon flashes and rhetoric, but customers are still understandably skeptical. If a customer has to close a pop-up every time they navigate to a new page on your site, you're making a very poor first impression and potentially driving them away. Conversion Voodoo's Jon Correl suggests two adjustments to your pop-ups—timed release, so it isn't the first thing a customer sees, and well-designed cookies that recognize when a pop-up ad has been shut down, rather than mindlessly displaying the unwanted ad on each new page or visit. Your customers will likely appreciate the reduced pop-ups and spend more time reading and engaging with your classic content because they feel safe from marketing harassment.
What Did I Buy Again?
As important as it is to streamline your online storefront, you shouldn’t let your focus on creating a smooth shopping experience distract you from your actual ordering process. Don't distract customers with questions about birthdays or newsletter preferences while they're trying to review the contents of their cart. Website Magazine's Kristen Gramigna also cautions ecommerce professionals against the jarring switch to an offsite payment processor. Your customer should always feel as if your site is handling everything, even if you actually have partners doing some of the heavy lifting. Your color scheme, fonts, layout and more should be uniform and harmonious throughout the site—even on the checkout page. Trying to funnel customers to an off-site page to pay invites suspicion, and may even lose you sales from more skittish shoppers.
Thankfully, solutions such as microsites can neatly tackle all three issues at once. A specialized site built from the ground up—designed to do nothing but inform and sell—has plenty of room to guide the customer and a simple framework that discourages accidental obstacle-building. Easy and fast to build when compared with traditional websites, microsites are excellent places to highlight new or limited edition product offerings and bring the customer straight to checkout with little work. With a tendency to be newer in creation and shorter in life span, there's a much lower chance of microsites getting mired in the past, as well. New products and new venues signal the need for a more enlightened sales approach, and ecommerce fulfillment is responding, one microsite at a time.