Selling Multiple Products? Avoid These Top Blunders
by Marcia Yudkin
When your web site sells more than a dozen items, you may
face a fierce challenge of helping shoppers find what they
are looking for. You'll need to classify products into
categories, but these will serve as obstacles and even deal
killers if those categories do not match those in the heads
I've seen again and again web sites using classifications
that aren't known or understood by a portion of their
customers. For instance, I once wanted to buy T-shirts and
went to the site of a famous catalog company, where I found
a category called "shirts." So far, so good. But then I
had to choose between a category called "woven" or another
called "knitted." There I got stumped. Are T-shirts woven
or knitted? I was not sure.
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Another time I was searching for a Toyota car part, ready
to buy it, but I could not find it on the Toyota parts web
site unless I knew whether it was part of the drive train,
an accessory, the exhaust system or something else. I
hadn't a clue. In both these cases, the site wrongly
assumed that shoppers understood their jargon, and set that
up as a barrier to an online purchase.
Let's suppose that you solve the jargon problem and someone
finds what they are looking for. The next hurdle for
shoppers concerns whether or not people can find answers to
all the questions about availability, shipping charges,
warranties and return policies that they could easily ask
if shopping by phone or in person. In the last year, I
would say that only 50% of the time when I'm shopping
online I've had all of my pre-purchase questions answered
by the web site. Among the multi-product sites I've toured
as a reviewer, I don't remember a single one that answered
enough questions for shoppers.
Before your site launches, you can think up all the
questions people might ask by imagining different kinds of
shoppers - people from other countries, corporate buyers,
gift givers, etc. - and what they'd need to know. Once
your site's been up for a while, collect the questions that
come in by email and phone. Gather the questions and
answers in a Frequently Asked Questions page and make the
FAQ accessible from every page of your site.
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Especially do not make people put items into their shopping
cart and begin checking out in order to find out the
shipping charges and refund policies! Another epidemic
blunder is not revealing the address of the company behind
the shopping site. Not only is this necessary to set at
ease the mind of any shopper worried about recourse against
no-show orders or faulty merchandise, it's important for
some people to know where items are being shipped from.
out your list of customer addresses and bombarding everyone
who's bought from you with frequent emails?
Online order forms range from easy to use and complete to
baffling and aggravating. Submit yours to what I call "the
grandmother test" - ask people who've never seen your site
before to place an order and talk through the process out
loud. Button your lips and listen. Note where they get
stuck and fix your ordering procedures accordingly.
Finally, do you have testimonials attesting to the quality
and value of what you sell and the pleasures of doing
business with you? That's the cherry on the sundae of a
well-designed site from a company shoppers recommend and
return to for more purchases!
Copyright 2005 Marcia Yudkin.
All rights reserved.
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