The next step after decision is action, and nothing should get in the way of it. Website navigation or checkout procedures that are too long or not user-friendly will seriously hurt sales. Make sure that if prospects go back to make a change, their order up to that point is not erased. Avoid sticker shock by providing a running total for the customer as she shops, and make editing orders easy and foolproof. Most e-commerce websites give free basic S&H with a minimum order. This can even be made into a plus; if your lowest-priced product is $25, offer free S&H with orders over $30.
Never insert any steps between selection and purchase. I have seen e-commerce websites that inserted a questionnaire into the checkout process, and when sales fell, one website made the questionnaire longer with more questions to find out why. Add-on sales can be offered, but they have to be relevant to the original purchase and featured as part of the checkout pages so customers don’t resent them.
Your job isn’t done until the customer is happy with you, even after purchasing, because repeat sales can be 35% to 85% more profitable than the first purchase. For purchases that involve shipment, sending an e-mail with shipping information and an order reference number is a good way to build customer relationships.
If your customers find what they want immediately and get to each step quickly and easily, your sales conversion ratios will go up. Organizing your sales thinking, and taking steps so that your customers become aware, find what they need, make a decision, take action, and stay satisfied will both increase your sales and responses and give you the tools to improve each step. And getting that sale is the name of the game.
NOTE: This is the eleventh article in a series on Internet marketing. To read the entire series, and to view a glossary of e-marketing terms visit www.nyreport.com/emarketing.
Tony Grass is President of e-Market Intelligence, an internet sales generation consultancy and service. Previously, he built a traditional 65-person sales and marketing communications company in Chicago. Contact is welcome through firstname.lastname@example.org.