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Ecommerce Annoyances

Don’t Annoy Your Customers Before You’ve Made the Sale


When you’re building an online store it can be very tempting to focus all your efforts on conversions. In other words, converting browsing readers into buying customers. But if you are annoying your readers before they become customers you may be losing conversions that you weren’t aware of. These ecommerce annoyances can be fixed, but only if you take the time to address them on your site.

Some of these annoyances will cause people to leave without looking back the first time they see it, and others are very minor. But don’t be fooled, according to Jakob Nielson:

“Annoyances matter, because they compound.”

In other words, the more little annoyances there are on your website, the more likely people will give up and leave. They will feel less than satisfied with their experience on your site, and even if they do make a purchase, may be less eager to make another at a future date. While fixing annoyances might not triple your conversion rate, it won’t hurt your site at all. To quote Nielson again:

“eliminating annoyances increases customer satisfaction and user loyalty, and thus improves the long-term business value of the site”

Don’t Annoy Me Before I’ve Chosen What I’m Going to Buy

These annoyances happen while the customer is still browsing your site. If they get annoyed enough they might even leave without ever buying.

Pages load too slowly.
All web pages should load quickly (no more than 10-15 seconds). And ecommerce pages are no exception. Your pages should have few large images and just the information required about the product or products listed. Make sure to test that your database can feed content quickly and that your ad server (if you have ads on your pages) is not bogging down your pages. Speed is critical, and the more pages that are slow to load the more likely your potential customer will leave without buying.

No additional information about the products.
You’ll make more sales if you provide information about the products. You want to include information like technical specs, sizes and weights, colors, and materials. And the more information you can provide the better your site will appear. It can be tempting to create a catalog of products all simply linking to the store. But you won’t get as many customers if you don’t give them something to read, so they can learn more about what they’re buying. Remember, your competition is the local store where they can touch the product and make a decision based on seeing it right there. Your online store needs to provide at least as much information as the brick and mortar store.

Content that is out of date.
If the content on your website is out of date, they won’t trust you. Make sure that your content reflects as up-to-the-minute information as you can. This situation is especially annoying when it comes to information about stock availability. One thing that is sure to annoy your customers is if the site says “in stoc” and it’s not until they get to the purchase area (or worse yet, after the products were supposed to ship) they are told that it’s not available. I’ve cancelled completed orders from online stores when one item in my shopping cart was listed as in stock but wasn’t. When I’m coming to the store for one thing, I might buy more if it’s available, but I won’t buy anything if it’s not.

Not welcoming customer feedback, good and bad.
One thing that most people really like is the ability to read reviews from other customers. And even if you don’t post them on your site, your customers will find reviews elsewhere. If you provide those reviews directly on your site, you appear more friendly and open to your customers. Especially if you don’t hesitate about posting the bad reviews along with the good ones. Use the bad reviews as an opportunity to connect with your customers and make things better. This can help build a community of loyal customers who will help you make your site and your products even better.

Not displaying the price until checkout.
Many online stores do this in the misguided belief that people will feel obligated to buy if they are in the checkout process when they discover the price. However, the reality is that most people simply won’t enter the checkout at all. Don’t force people into the checkout just to discover the price. This is an annoyance that will drive off many potential customers.

Don’t Annoy Me During Checkout or After I’ve Purchased from Your Store

Just because you’ve gotten the reader through the first conversion hurdle, doesn’t mean you’re done. It’s possible, and in fact very common, to lose customers during the checkout process. You should make the checkout process as easy and painless as possible. Remember, they are already feeling some pain in pulling out their wallet – don’t compound that with these annoyances.

Requiring a login to checkout.
This is really annoying. Customers who buy from brick and mortar stores aren’t required to be members from most stores before they buy. But forcing people to register just to make a purchase is another place that you’ll lose conversions. If you must set up a registration, do it at the end, after they’ve made their purchase. And make it optional. Or if it’s not optional, set up the registration based on the information that they gave you to make their purchase. One store I was on waited to the end of the process to ask me to join, but then when I decided to, asked me to fill in my personal information again. Since I had just done that for my purchase, I said “no thanks” and declined membership.

Not providing any value for the required login (beyond being able to buy).
Once you’ve gotten your customer to register, give them something for it. One store I bought from last week forced a registration and the only thing I “got” for that registration was the opportunity to be put on their mailing list. Since I was already on the list without being registered, this was annoying. And honestly, I don’t consider you saving my credit card number to be “helping”. It just feels like another place where my credit card information could be stolen from. Give me something I would want, not something that is really just to make it easier for me to help you.

Some things that are useful to provide include:

  • Order tracking, cancelling, and updating
  • Previous orders
  • Special offers for registered users

Picking states and countries from a drop-down.
You probably do this because you think that it stops people from entering data incorrectly, but it’s much easier to write the two-letter code for a state than it is to find it in a drop-down menu. The same is true for countries. And it’s easy to think you’ve chosen the correct state or country only to have the mouse move and select a different one while you’re not looking.

If you’re worried about invalid information, then sign up for a zip code validation service.You should probably be doing this when you check their credit card anyway. CDYNE offers a service that will verify zip codes on a per-transaction basis with a low monthly fee.

No contact information or only a web form or other online method (like chat) or telephone.
Finally, when the order is done, your customers like to be able to contact you. But providing only phone support during limited hours or an online form can be very annoying to people. Most people who use online forms want to use online methods to contact you that they can track - ie. email. Don’t be afraid of your customers. Let them email you if they have questions.

Don't Annoy Your Ecommerce Customers - And Remember to Ask them Their Annoyances

Getting more conversions is always difficult, but if you avoid annoying your customers you'll be better than many of your competitors. And don't assume that all the annoyances listed here are the only ones you should worry about. Chat with your customers, and ask for feedback on your sales process. Find out what's annoying them, and fix it. Customers who aren't annoyed are returning customers.

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