Boy have I learned a lot from e-shopping this year. Most of it is what sites shouldn't do.
We've dealt with this in the past but they're out there in force this season and I'm having a tough time understanding that so many destinations are so poorly structured. Makes you think they have sales prevention departments.
Where to start:
If you haven't properly mapped your site for search engines , you're cutting your possible purchases by as much as 90 percent. That's ninety, OK. Howzatt? If I'm searching for a coffee pot and the best your site can deliver to search engines is a link to "appliances."
Visitors won't stick around to rummage through dishwashers, clothes dryers, televisions and ultrasonic ring cleaners to find a coffee pot. But if you're comfortable with having that link, check your bounce rate. How many people are referred by a search engine and don't go past that referral page. Hellooooo. McFlyyyyy. Those are lost sales. You didn't even get a chance to show your wares. You have to take advantage of SEO elements including page titles, metadata, site maps and dynamic linking to really be a competitive sales organization. If someone's searching Duck Duck Go for magnetic wallpaper and you sell magnetic wallpaper, find a way to give them that page.
Page organization...are you paying attention to the layout? Really? Can a visitor see a picture of the item above the fold? Is it large enough to make out the item? You may want to go with annoying them by providing an automatic blow up on mouseover, or launching a video with sound up full. More level-headed thinking would tell you that if you were referred to by a search engine, the closer you can come to showing the referred visitor that you have what they're looking for and what it will cost them - on that first click from the search engine - the better chance you have of closing a sale.
Wait! Are you one of those sites that makes me put the item in my cart to see the price? You know that that's like passing a football, right? Two out of the three things that happen next are bad. The first is the shopper (me, for sure) moves on to the next site. No time for that stuff. The second is that the price isn't to the shopper's liking or he/she's seen lower prices elsewhere. In that case, you've cast yourself as a loser site for good. In case you've forgotten, it's easy to lose consumer confidence and very hard to get it back. So, go ahead, hide the price. But when you get intercepted by the competition and they run it back for their own sale, it's your fault.
Here's another great one: Long running scripts. When I get one of these warnings, I don't waste any time. I'm off to another site. While I'm doing so, I'm usually also thinking, "What in the world are they trying to database here?" I know you want to compare whatever you can glean from the current session with what's in the databases that carry info on me but, man, you're costing yourself a sale.
If I walked up to the counter at a camera store (wait, do they have those any more?) and said I wanted a Canon 5D Mark III, and the sales person greeted me with, "Hi. What kind of car do you drive?" or, "You married?" you can bet I'd turn on my heels and walk out. So cut that out. Yeah, yeah, yeah...if you know that, then it can gin up what you present me in next topic, the "You might also like..." or the "Others who bought this also bought..." Nothing wrong with that. Especially if the thing only runs with a 10.8 volt 10ah battery that doesn't come with the product. But when you let it crowd out the prospective purchase, you run the risk of confusing people.
Speaking of confusing. Two areas where a lot of sites fall apart are shipping and tax. Right off the bat let me ask that you tell me about the tax. Tell me you charge it for my state. C'mon. Let me factor that in. You still may have a reasonable price that, combined with your reputation, makes me want to buy from you.
And then, with respect due Jerry Yester, along comes shipping. And it never gives me kicks. Instead, it just makes me crazy(ier) as I try to shift through the options. Let's see. It's Thursday so if I insert the code DiPstick between 7 and 9PM and my order is over $112, I can get free 30 day shipping. Oh wait. Only if my order is under 47.6 ounces. Well rats. What's second day air? $150? How about priority mail. They haven't broken anything of mine recently...
Guys: just spell it out. Cut some of the attached strings and make it simple enough to understand that free shipping is: (your free shipping here)
OK. Almost checked out. Well, rat fink. Typo in my address. Let me edit that. Good deal. And save. That's right now. (Expletive.) The lousy site just wiped out most of the info I entered on the page. Oh sure. I'll come back here again.
This year online sales will soar once again. For some companies. They're the ones who have optimized their sites to deliver you information on the products you want with as few clicks as possible then provide a convenient and up-front checkout. It ain't rocket surgery.
If your site's sales didn't climb, you might want to look at the site, not the products it's supposed to be selling.
Whatever you celebrate, celebrate hard with my best wishes.