The Evolution of Online Stores, Part Three

Robert HoldemanWebsite Conversion, Website Tips

Just this past week I went to a website that is well-known in its niche industry, comes up #1 on Google search engine results page, and offers fantastic items for sale, with a customized eCommerce approach that seems designed circa 1955.  OK, you caught me… no internet in 1955, so it must have been near the end of the last Century.   But the point is: it was the last Century!

I was able to shop by category, with all of the products visible as I scrolled down the page… and scrolled down the page… and scrolled… well, you get the picture!   I wanted to click on  the product image and see a larger view, but that apparently was a frivilous desire, according to their web designer.  I wanted to click on a button to add it to my shopping cart, but the designer must have thought that was just too easy.  Instead I scrolled down to the bottom of the page and clicked on the subtle link to make my purchase.

By now, I’m thinking, “Do I want this stuff?”  and  “Can they make this more difficult?”   Right about then the order form came up on my screen and the answer was obvious, “Yes and yes.”    The order form required me to type in each product’s inventory number, description, and price.   I had to go back and forth from each of the 3 category pages where I found the items to copy the product information.   So far my experience as a customer rivalled standing in line at the DMV, but just like my driver’s license, I had to have it!

As I typed in my credit card number, I knew it was secure because the little padlock  icon was visible in my browser, so I knew no hacker could get my personal info.  Now I only had to worry about the internal security of the company whose website offered me such a unique shopping experience… night cleaning crews, disgruntled employees, etc.  The possibility that they might be outright thieves crossed my mind. 

It’s hard to believe that there are websites out there that offer this type of shopping experience, but this really happened to me last week.  I don’t know if this story will have a happy ending and I won’t really know even after I receive my items.  All I know is that my credit card info is on file at some company in some other state, either in electronic form or even on paper, in what I hope is a secure environment.  It’s OK; I’ve got faith.

As we develop eCommerce websites for our clients we recommend they take advantage of a payment gateway, such as PayPal or, to process online transactions, putting the collection and storage of sensitive credit card info on their big shoulders and ensuring customers’ data is safe behind the layers of security they provide.

Of course, there is more to the shopping experience than simple security, but that’s what it adds up to… trust.  An online merchant must rely on the shopping experience their website provides to close the sale, and online shoppers need to trust where they spend their money.  When those two things come together you have made a sale.

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