I came across a web site recently that was bragging about why they didn’t have a shopping cart on their site. Their reasoning was that they liked a more personal touch and they wanted you to pick up the phone and call them. Of course they didn’t provide a toll free number, but even if they had, don’t they realize that ecommerce is done on a computer, not a phone? And not every customer wants to pick up the phone and call a store to find out availability and pricing. If you are selling something on your web site, you should have a shopping cart – make it easy for the customer to do business with you.
While not every web site is as blatant about their technical inadequacies as this one, many still show their attitude about making it convenient for the company rather than the customer when it comes to the checkout page. I’ve had numerous store owners tell me that they only want to accept credit cards as the payment method because “they don’t like PayPal”. Let me be clear – it doesn’t matter whether or not you like something, it matters what the customer expects. And many customers expect to be able to pay for their purchases with Paypal. Do yourself a favor and take as many payment methods as you can so the customer can tell you how they want to give you their money.
I’ve seen other web sites that have a “terms and conditions” page that would fill a small book. This page goes on and on describing all the reasons why a customer shouldn’t do business with you. I strongly recommend having a terms and conditions page to provide information about shipping, payment methods accepted, privacy policies and returns. But this page should be about why someone should do business with you, not why they shouldn’t.
It never ceases to amaze me that in today’s customer-driven world companies still behave like they are the ones in control. They put up websites describing how wonderful they are. Page after page talks about all their accomplishments and how they are the best in the industry. Guess what? The customer doesn’t care! Every page on a web site, with the possible exception of a single “About Us” page, should be about the customer, not about you.
Back to the shopping cart issue: some companies sell items that don’t ship very well. They may sell perishable items such as food, or heavy, (relatively) low cost items such as dog food or potting soil. Shipping costs make selling these things over the Internet impractical. Do it anyway! Just make the only “shipping” option be in-store pickup. This has other side-benefits as well, such as driving the customer into your store where they may purchase something else. But the big thing is that customers want the convenience of finding prices and information before coming to see you. (And they don’t want to pick up the phone to do it). Instead of telling the customer to shop elsewhere, make it easy for them to do business with you.