The quickest way for an organization to have a bad reputation is by convincing customers that their money is not safe in your organization’s hands.
Anyone who has any real experience with online shopping has had the deep feeling of dread in the pit of their stomach when they click the buy button on a website and the screen goes blank or the little hour glass symbol continues to tumble on their screen.
It is a breathless moment that can immediately destroy the entire experience of online shopping for that website.
Rule number one: Don’t mess with people’s wallets! There are ways to reduce that intense moment of panic that generates friction between the consumer’s confidence and the websites performance.
In a generation of continuous and immediate social interaction that crosses every geographic boundary through the internet, it is vital that your web presence is attractive, simple, secure, and functional.
These are the basic requirements of the checkout screen for your consumers.
The layout must present a clear and readily understandable list of the items being purchased, how the product will be shipped, how much they cost, and how a customer can follow up with a delivery or billing problem.
To be clear and easily understandable, there should not be additional items on the page that do not relate to the current transaction.
The format should be simple with only necessary information: the item description, the amount selected, the cost per item and the total cost for the quantity ordered.
Once this table of information inputs the extra costs associated with the purchase such as shipping, state regulated fees, and taxes should be itemized in a similar manner to the items of the purchase.
Somewhere in a conspicuous place on the page, there should be a previous page button and a way to click on the items and change the quantity.
If a customer cannot go back and modify their transaction than the website will make it difficult for customers to make impulse buys or adjust the total costs by reducing their order to something they can afford.
A customer should never have concerns about the total of their order in terms of cost or what is being ordered.
Functionality and Computation Complexity
Functionality is critical. If a website is beautiful and plays every item out clearly with its charges, but freezes up in the transmittal process, the experience is a disaster.
The single most critical phase of the online shopping experience is closing the deal, and closing it professionally. Success in the closing process is a good indicator if the consumer will be a repeat customer.
There are complications to the purchase transaction that go beyond just making the page look pretty and simple. Consider, is the selling company in the United States and is there a currency exchange rate? Will your website calculate it accurately? If the purchase is large enough are there Fedwire fees for exchange rates?
If the purchase is made at 11:59 pm for a sale that is good for that day only and there is a delay in the processing side of the operation will the transaction default to an approval value?
Now, consider the stateside banks. Banks are often networked and outsource functions to other banks. If a third party manages a portion of the transaction will your card decline the approval? Are all cards accepted on your website and will credit card companies be taking a percentage of the transaction with the fee?
There are platforms for resolving these issues, but it is going to take more than a casual implementation of programming to facilitate the needs of consumers that transcend geographic boundaries.
There are web based service providers that operate within the framework of programming focused solely on the collection of payments and that reduce the friction of online purchasing errors.
By partnering with providers who can absorb the risks and workload of payment collection while simultaneously performing calculations, the complexities and risks are shared and reduced. The most critical part of the buying experience can be a positive contributor to the reputation and sustainability of the selling organization.
In addition to having a platform that offers a variety of payment options and resolves currency exchanges, an organization must provide a secure transaction. One security breach of credit cards for an online business can lead to a complete loss of consumer confidence, or even worse, consumer financial security.
There must be proven protocols in place to provide that protection if there is going to be any sales of any kind. Organizations are discovering that the security of electronic payments are at risk throughout the entire process from the time a customer enters their credit card information.
Once a card number is entered it goes through the ports of the web page, into the ports of the credit card company and the two computers will execute a handshake and share information.
Before that information is ever sent, it should be secured through hardware and software communications security measures that are always being updated with the most current information. To reduce stress at checkout, make sure the consumer has confidence in your ability to handle their funds.
Information theft is not the only security risk. Failed transactions immediately create a fear of double billing and lost funds. The process for security can be complicated and cause systems to crash in the middle of a transaction.
The web designers have to make sure that the process is executed with redundant accounting reconciliation procedures to prevent duplicate billing in the case of page loading issues and user errors. The ability of a consumer to navigate the internet effectively vary from one user to another.
Some users can be the cause of their problems and prevent user errors can be very challenging.
One of the ways to assist in this area is to run current orders against prior orders and identify duplicate orders within a specified time frame. What is the likelihood that a user will place two separate orders for the same item in five minutes? If the software can be structured to detect this and generate a warning to the consumer, some problems may be averted.
In a culture where the customer is always right, the last comment any organization wants to hear is, “I would not shop there, and now let me tell you why…” Paying acute attention to the needs of the user for simplicity, functionality, and security will lead to reduced friction for the customer.
The ultimate goal for a business website is to sell their product and generate repeat business. While there are many routes to success in this goal, there are no shortcuts. However, there is the help: companies like FastSpring do offer professionally designed platforms to help make the checkout process simple and secure.
Businesses that can view themselves through the eyes of their customer base dominate the market, and that is what it is all about.