Is YOUR Web Site Ready For Shoppers?

Common sense strategies to help you tweak your website to provide a smooth and reassuring online shopping experience.

As webmaster of a UK shopping directory I get to review many online shopping sites. I take about 60 seconds to decide whether the site gets added to my shopping directory (or not).

And what I look for, in those crucial first seconds, is what YOUR site-visitors look for too. They're thinking:

-> 'Can I trust you?',

-> 'Do you sell what I'm looking for,' and

-> 'Do I want to buy it from here?' or

-> 'Do I just want to somewhere else?'

The bad news: I am more patient than your site visitors!

The good news: you just need to make a few common-sense changes to your site, for it to be ready for customers.

(Results from a study on online shopping habits help illustrate my point. The figures are a couple of years old, now, but I don't think the needs of online shoppers have changed too much. You can read a report of the study at http://archives.cnn.com/2000/TECH/
computing/12/18/better.customer.service.idg/
)

So what do I look for?

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1. Is Your Site Safe AND Secure?
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'Of course our site is safe AND secure!' you say. 'We're a member of a safe-shopping scheme, and we pay lots of extra money for secure servers!'

You know your site is safe and secure, but does your site display the safe-shopping logo proudly on the home page, where it's easy to find, easy to reassure?

Do put any safe-shopping logos high-up on your home-page, or even the logo of your secure server provider like Worldpay or Verisign! (And the same goes for customer testimonials!)

Safe shopping schemes/providers include:
- http://www.trustuk.org.uk/Default.asp
- http://www.shopsafe.co.uk
- http://www.verisign.com
- http://www.worldpay.com

------------------------------------
2. Does Your Site Look Professional?
------------------------------------

26% said the [shopping site] was too difficult to navigate

How do I decide whether a site is well-designed and professional?

Maybe it's a great color-scheme, or site layout. Maybe it's clear images, good use of fonts, or an impressive Flash movie. Maybe it's all of these things (or none of them).

Basically, for me, a professional website:
* is easy to navigate (so you never get 'lost')
* is quick to load (no unnecessary 'splash' screens)
* contains clear and immediate benefits for your customer
* does not rely on obscure browser technology

Yes you can break these rules, just as long as you make sure that your site is CUSTOMER-FRIENDLY.

(At the very least do a site-usability study. You'll be amazed at what you learn!)

These sites/resources may help:

- http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com
How NOT to design a website

- http://www.sensible.com/buythebook.html
"Don't Make Me Think!" philosophy of site design

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3. Does Your Site Contain Great Content And Offers?
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(16% of online shoppers said the site didn't offer enough gift-giving ideas to help them make an appropriate purchase - Anderson Consulting.)

Is it REALLY worth shopping at your site?

Do you offer a great choice of goods at low prices? Can visitors read reviews of the products you sell? And can they create a Christmas wish-list for their friends or family?...

What's compelling about shopping online at your store?

(For ideas about compelling shopping, just visit Amazon!)

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4. Does Your Site Display Delivery Details & Costs?
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(40% said the product they ordered was not delivered in time -- Anderson Consulting.)

I'm sure your site has delivery details and costs, but... is it easy to find them?

Don't force a customer to buy an item, before they can find this information!

Make your delivery details and costs as easy to find as possible -- especially if you offer free delivery! Don't give a potential customer a reason to go somewhere else!

And as for late delivery -- if you can't avoid this, at least keep your customer informed at all times. This keeps the customer as happy as possible, encourages positive word- of-mouth (i.e. new customers), and helps you achieve the holy grail of online shopping -- repeat business!

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5. Does Your Site Display Contact Details?
------------------------------------------

(25% said the [site] did not provide enough information needed to make a purchase.)

"A site without contact information is a site with something to hide!" That's what a potential customer thinks, anyway!

Your site should state WHO you are, and WHAT your business is about. Include information like name, address, and phone number on an about-us page, and mention a little about your business (a photo of you and your business is very reassuring).

If you need an example, why not look at the about-us page I've created. It's not brilliant, but it's a start. (Hey, I don't even sell anything online!). Find it at - http://www.shoptour.co.uk/about.shtml

And here is a really professional contact page which does the same job of reassuring the potential shopper - http://bedstar.co.uk/shop/customer/help.php?section=faqs

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Congratulations... Your Site Is Now Ready For Shoppers!
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Follow the advice above, and your site should be ready for the demands of even the fussiest shopper.

You can probably think of more common-sense ways to make your site more 'customer-friendly' e.g. customer testimonials -- do whatever needs to be done.

More and more money is spent online each and every year. Your site can have its piece of the pie -- just make sure your site is ready.

Best wishes to you!

PS If you want some more basic advice then feel free to read my free ebook titled: '3 Super-Tactics to build, promote and profit more from your website'? Download it here --> http://www.wise-buys.info/bonus.shtml

STEVE NASH is the author of many popular articles aimed at webmasters, affiliates, even complete beginners. Read them here! http://www.wise-buys.info/webmaster-articles.html

HIS BEST TIP? Use Site Build It! to develop a profitable business online! Learn more! Visit http://site-buildit.com


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