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8 Convenience Factors

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Posted March 12, 2001 By Robyn Greenspan     Feedback

Consumers are forsaking the mall where parking spots are scarce and crowds are plentiful in favor of shopping from the comfort of their robe and slippers.

Which do you prefer -- going out to the mall where parking spots are scarce and crowds are plentiful? Or shopping from the comfort of your robe and slippers and finding exactly the items you want?

With an increasing number of consumers utilizing the global marketplace of the Web, convenience has become one of the primary factors for spending digitally. Shoppers are forsaking brick-and-mortar retailers where they have to scour through racks and shelves while often dealing with insolent salespeople in favor of just typing a few keywords and instantly having the ability to make purchases from anywhere in the world.

When designing and developing your e-commerce site, the assumption should be that your customers are online because they have limited time; they want to find items quickly and easily; and they often have a specific need for a certain product.

That being said, here are some important factors of convenience you should consider before launching your Web store:

  • Accept credit cards and as many other forms of payment as possible. There is little to be gained if you launch a great site and then ask for payments to be mailed to you in the form of a check or money order. It is better to wait for your merchant account to be approved before going live prematurely.
  • Carry as many items in stock as possible to avoid backorders. Often convenience goes hand-in-hand with timeliness and customers want to know right away if they have to wait three days or three weeks for an item.
  • Send an e-mail confirmation for all orders. Some sites state on the final transaction screen, "Print this page for your records." Well, what if the customer doesn't have an accessible printer at the time of the order?
  • Only ask for the basic information required for order processing - shipping address, billing address, e-mail address, payment data. You can follow-up with your market research questions another time.
  • Offer a variety of shipping options including overnight express. You don't want to eliminate orders from last-minute shoppers because the only form of shipment constitutes a five-day wait for delivery.
  • Your site should be searchable by keywords or phrases. Many customers want to get in, find the item, checkout and get out.
  • Post all the company's contact info visibly. Sometimes a customer just needs a quick question answered before making the final click that processes the order. Don't run the risk of abandonment because a shopper couldn't find your toll-free number.
  • Make sure all the components of the site load quickly. That includes all text, graphics and interactive elements. In this instance, time is definitely money. Customer frustration starts to build as they wait for pages don't load.

Providing a shopping experience that is as quick and painless as possible will help to generate a loyal repeat customer base. If a consumer gets just as frustrated at the keyboard as they do at the mall, they may find little reason to click and spend.

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