10 Things Preventing Consumers From Buying at Your Online Store

Saving Money Selling Online

From the moment that a consumer enters your website until they submit their payment information to finalize a purchase, there are a wide variety of reasons why they will abandon the site. Merchants spend a lot of time, energy, and sometimes money to drive consumers to their ecommerce site, in the hopes that a purchase will be completed. However all of that effort put forth can be worthless if the ecommerce experience the consumer enters is not up to their standards.

Looking back at ecommerce 10 years ago, consumers were less tech savvy, and had fewer expectations when shopping online, as their primary concern was buying what they wanted from the convenience of their own home. Now in 2011 consumers are not only shopping online from their home computer, but also from their mobile phone and tablet computers.

Now is the time of the year when many merchants reevaluate their ecommerce site, and look for ways to make improvements so that they can be more successful when Halloween and the holiday shopping season start later this year. Merchants looking for ideas on what they can improve should read the list below of 10 things that are preventing consumers from buying from your online store.

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Add to Cart Button Needs Improvement

Some ecommerce merchants think that as long as they have a button for people to add products to their cart, then it will be enough for them to convert consumers into paying customers. While it is nice to have the “if you build it they will buy” belief, creating a functional ecommerce site is only part of the battle to make your online business a success with consumers. If you have never experimented with different buy buttons or calls to action on those buttons, then now is the perfect time to do some A/B testing to see what works best. In general most ecommerce merchants feel that using “Add to Cart” is the best way to go in terms of the call to action, as it seems to convert better than having “Buy Now” on the button. Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and Overstock all use “Add to Cart” on their buttons, and therefore you have to have confidence that this is probably the smartest way to go, but test it out to make sure.

In addition to the call to action, you also want to experiment with the size, color, and placement of the Add to Cart Button. Not all big ecommerce sites put their button in the same place, but they all do seem to use a color that contrasts well with the site so consumers can easily find it. They also tend to go with a bigger button which again helps consumers quickly find it when they are ready to make a purchase. See what other ecommerce sites in your niche are doing, and review the experience at some of your favorite online stores to see what works for them. Ultimately you should be able to get a lift in conversion rate if you find the right mix of call to action, color, size, and placement on your product pages.

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Your Site is Too Slow

Not only will a slow site impact your organic rankings with Google, but it can also be a deal breaker for a consumer who is coming to your site for the first time. Site speed should hold true throughout the site, no matter what page the consumer happens to be on, as they expect for things to work quickly without major delays. There are a variety of things that ecommerce merchants can do to improve site speed, including using valid CSS, compressed images, removing excessive widgets, and limiting the use of Flash and JavaScript elements on the site. Also you want to make sure that you have the right hosting partner to accommodate your ecommerce site. Ecommerce merchants like to use the Firebug add-on for Firefox which allows them to use the Google Page Speed Tool, so they can gauge if the changes they make are improving overall page speed.

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Hidden or Limited Contact Information

Consumers are aware of scams that happen online, so many of them are cautious about shopping at a new site for the first time, which is why it is common for them to do a bit of research before they move forward with making a purchase. When conducting research one of the first things that consumers want to know about is how they can contact the ecommerce site, just in case something goes wrong with their order. Surprisingly some ecommerce sites make it very difficult to find their 800 number, email address, live chat, social media profiles, and about us page. In some cases the only way a consumer will find the information is by looking deeper at a site map, which is not ideal. The fact is, most consumers would not put that much effort into their research and would rather just abandon your site. If you have decided to put forth the effort and commit to providing excellent customer service, then you should make sure that all of your contact information is clearly visible, either at the top of the site or in the footer. These are the two places where people will look, and if it appears that there is not an easy way to contact you, then it is likely that the consumer will abandon your ecommerce site.

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Lack of Product Reviews or Customer Testimonials

It can be difficult for a new online store to have a lot of product reviews or customer testimonials, but these are very important to consumers, who want to get a feel for what people think about the products and your ecommerce site. Online shopping is becoming more social, and product reviews and customer testimonials are just the tip of the iceberg, as consumers are starting to seek out social recommendations on what to buy and where to shop.  Some merchants are using tools like PowerReviews which can help improve the product review area of any ecommerce site. If your site is lacking in this area, then you might consider working on improving it over the coming months to help the performance of your site later in the year.

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Limited Product Images and Video

As more and more consumers turn to the Internet to find the products they want, they are expecting every possible digital medium available that will let them do anything but hold the product before buying.  Having multiple images and product videos will help a customer determine if your product is right for them.  Different images will allow the customer to zoom into intricate details, see what the product looks like in use, and view it from different angles.  Product videos help to put your product in perspective, by showing it in use and at various angles.  While these may seem like tiny details, they can make or break a sale for a large variety of customers online.


Requiring Registration

Merchants want to know who their customers are, and what better way to do this than customer registration, right?  While customer registration can open up a variety of opportunities for you and your customers, requiring that they register will deter quite a few from completing the checkout process.  There are pros and cons to shopping online, but for some people, a big con comes in the form of spam emails.  Many consumers prefer to keep their names off of long email lists and the fact is, merchants don’t have the power to twist a consumer’s arm to do otherwise.  If a consumer wants to make a quick purchase or wants to stay off of your email list, they won’t want to register.  If they have to register to buy at your site, they can simply do a quick Google search and find another site to buy the same product, without registering.  In other words, they don’t have to do it, and you can’t really make them, so why try?

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Difficult to Navigate

Your site can sell the world’s first perpetual motion machine for only $0.99 and it wouldn’t matter if customers couldn’t navigate to the perpetual motion product page.  Navigation is important for both your customers and your SEO, since search engines like Google consider the usability of your site as one of many factors when determining its rank in search results.  When it comes to your customers, you should make navigation second nature for them.  Consumers are used to shopping on Amazon.com, so take a cue from this ecommerce giant by doing the following:

  1. Place categories/departments in your main navigation panel (either on the left of the screen or the top)
  2. Make your search tool a primary focal point, as most consumers will choose to search when first entering your site
  3. Place your best selling products in the center of your home page
  4. Place sales and deals along the right hand side of your screen (or left hand side)
  5. Make sure your shopping cart button is clearly visible along the top, or top right corner, of your site
  6. Place personal links like My Account, Help, Contact, Wish Lists, etc. at the top of the page
  7. Include a site footer with relevant links and information that drive consumers to high converting pages in your online store.

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Hard to Find Privacy Policy and/or Terms and Conditions

As mentioned above, navigation is a very important aspect of encouraging your consumers to make a purchase.  That said, two key pieces of navigation that should appear on every page of your site are links to your Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.  A site-wide Privacy Policy and Terms will help you establish trust with customers.  Customers want to know that their information is safe and that your company is legitimate.  Professional services online always have a very detailed Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions form.  These two pages on your site will set you apart from the competition as customers can read through and know that their privacy is important to you.  Make sure you include links to both of these in the footer of your site.

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Terrible Ecommerce Design

Nobody wants to buy from a website that looks like it was designed in 1999, yet there are still many online stores out there with this outdated look and feel.  When you’re selling online, one of the hardest things to do is gain the trust of your customers.  This is because you don’t get the opportunity to speak with them face to face.  Instead, the face of your store is your website, and if that doesn’t look cared for, a customer won’t feel safe inputting their credit card information.  You need to create an online storefront that showcases how professional you are.  If you take a lot of pride in your products, then you should take equal pride in your storefront design.

Imagine, if you will, that you are looking for a high end jacket and are walking through the mall window shopping at stores.  There are two stores to choose from: Store 1 has a gorgeous window display showcasing custom designed jackets.  You peak inside the doors and see marble floors, organized racks, smiling sales people, and a variety of options.  Store 2 has a minimal display window showcasing a jacket on a hanger.  You peak inside the doors and see disorganized racks, jackets thrown on the ground, frowning sales people who haven’t showered in days… you get the picture.  Which store do you choose?

Knowing your answer to the above should help you understand the impact a poorly designed storefront will have on visitors to your site.  Your storefront should be clean and organized, and there should be some unique flare like an eye catching storefront window, to make you stand apart from other ecommerce websites in your niche.  Consumers will want to purchase from a merchant that takes pride in their design, as it hints to the quality of products being sold by that merchant.

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Cannot Locate Payment/Shipping/Return Information

As a merchant, your instinct is likely to showcase your products and keep a customer thinking about the purchase.  To this end, you probably don’t want them to even think about returning your product, or to be scared away by high shipping fees.  Because of this, most merchants hide this information.  They feel that keeping this information from a consumer will keep their mind in the right place, which will surely lead to a sale… right?  Contrary to popular belief, this tactic can be a large detriment to your sales goals.  Consumers are savvy shoppers online, and because of this they have come to expect some transparency.  Hiding shipping rates, return information, and even basic payment information is today’s version of the bait and switch.  In other words, you are baiting customers with a great deal and switching their price up last minute with shipping fees, payment fees (if they use a certain card or payment service), and return fees.  Even when these surprises only add up to $5, they’re enough to send many consumers running for the hills.

If you only take certain payment methods, make that clear throughout your site.  Showcase the logos of credit card companies and payment gateways you accept, and don’t forget to also show that your site is secure enough to take credit card numbers online.

Finally, if you have a return policy, make sure to put a clear link to it on your footer.  If there is a restocking fee, make sure to bold it so that customers can’t say they missed it even when skimming.  Include a date at the top of your return policy that shows when it was last updated, and state that the policy is set to be updated once every X months.

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IN CONCLUSION…
In conclusion, go through your online store to see if you have any of these problems on it.  If you do, make sure to take some time this month to tie up any loose ends.  These ten changes may be low hanging fruit for some, but they will take your online store to the next level and have a large impact on your shopping cart abandonment rates.

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About the Author:
Nick Grant is the co-founder of
ZippyCart.com, a website dedicated to providing non-biased reviews of the Internet’s leading ecommerce software platforms.  Visit ZippyCart.com to see why Volusion was rated a top 10 ecommerce solution of 2011, read shopping cart reviews, get up-to-date ecommerce news, and more.

2 Responses to “10 Things Preventing Consumers From Buying at Your Online Store”

  1. DAVID HAMBLIN

    thank you for your help i am finding it hard to build my site but this has help me .thanks.yours david

    Reply
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