Feb 23 2009

Top 7 Reservations of eCommerce-Phobes

As an avid online shopper, I’m always amazed when I meet someone who has never made an eCommerce purchase. They’re a shrinking breed, but they do exist. Take my Aunt Nora, who scoffs at the idea of placing an Internet order from the comfort of her robe and slippers, choosing instead to fight throngs of crowds and stand in hour-long lines at Wal-Mart. And there are others just like her.

What do these people have against online shopping? With so much going for it—wider selections, enticing promotions, free or low shipping costs, and the convenience of doorstep delivery—it’s hard for a laptop lover like me to understand why anyone would choose traditional retail. But the truth is, when I stopped to listen, these brick-and-mortar devotees had some very real reasons for their reluctance to shop online—and by failing to address them, you may be missing out on a significant source of potential revenue.

Reservation #1: I’m afraid of someone stealing my credit card information.

With cases of credit card fraud and identity theft rising exponentially each year, this is a viable concern. The best way to assuage these fears is to put rigorous security measures in place and make your consumers aware of your due diligence. Check with your hosting provider to make sure all data is being stored securely out of hackers’ reach, and carefully monitor orders that have differing billing and shipping addresses or IP addresses that don’t match the city on the order.

Many sites are adding an extra level of reassurance by displaying security “trust” seals to advertise their relationships with third-party security vendors, especially on the payment page. This demonstrates to consumers that you’re taking steps to ensure secure payment methods and protect their financial information, often providing the extra boost of confidence they need to convert.

Reservation #2: It’s not a “real” store.

Some shoppers are unnerved by the idea of purchasing items from a virtual store with no physical address. They want reassurance that their item actually exists somewhere, and that their transaction isn’t all just smoke and mirrors. If you do have a retail location, post some pictures of your store on your site. If not, consider including a photo of the site’s owner on an “About” page with some background information, core objectives, and a statement of quality and service commitment. The key here is to build credibility by lending a persona to your business instead of just presenting a list of products and a faceless shopping cart.

Reservation #3: You’ll sell my information.

Those who shy away from eCommerce sites are often afraid they’ll be bombarded with solicitation emails, catalogs, and offers from third parties if they complete a purchase. Remove their qualms by including a detailed privacy policy on your site, outlining your self-imposed regulations to never sell or share consumers’ information without their consent. Make it easy for them to opt out of receiving communications from you at any time.

Reservation #4: I can’t tell what the product is really like.

Many brick-and-mortar shoppers rely heavily on the sensory aspect of shopping—before clinching the sale, they need to smell the cologne, feel the cashmere, or try on the shoes to ensure a perfect fit. While an online store will never be able to fully replicate seeing the real thing in person, many sites have implemented super-cool “next best thing” technologies and strategies for product presentation.

The most important thing you can do is build in advanced imagery. Today’s online shoppers expect to be able to zoom in on a product, pan around to see points of interest up-close, and view alternate shots. If a shirt is available in multiple colors, allowing the consumer to swap out the image from red to blue to yellow can go a long way toward boosting conversions. And if you offer monogramming or customization, consider using a dynamic tool that allows users to plug in their initials or message and then preview the finished product before adding it to their cart. Textual content is important, too: the product description should convey key selling points and capture the sensory impacts the shopper would ordinarily get when looking at the item in person.

Reservation #5: I won’t be able to track my order.

These folks are afraid that once they click the Submit button, their order will disappear into some virtual black abyss, never to be seen or heard from again. You can assuage their fears by providing a user-friendly order tracking feature, making it easy to view item details, shipping information, and expected delivery dates. Many sites incorporate links to carriers’ websites, allowing shoppers to determine the current location of their package en route.

It’s also become standard practice to send shoppers event-triggered emails related to their shipment, even if they’ve opted out of marketing communications. These days, customers fully expect to receive notifications of order confirmation, shipping confirmation, and any potential delays.

Reservation #6: I need help from a salesperson—right now!

Brick-and-mortar devotees like the idea of having a live person at their disposal to assist with product questions. They’ve become accustomed to live interaction while shopping, and the idea of buying on the web seems altogether too one-sided. You can combat this apprehension by incorporating a live chat feature on your website. Surprisingly easy and affordable, live chat allows your customers to instantly connect to a customer service rep and obtain real-time answers. This is especially effective when you’re selling products at high price points, such as fine jewelry and furniture.

Reservation #7: If I don’t like it, I’ll be stuck with it.

Many would-be shoppers are put off by what they see as the utter finality of eCommerce purchases. In most cases, they won’t be able to return an item to a retail store, and they balk at the prospect of paying sky-high return shipping fees. Ease their trepidation by offering a 100% satisfaction guarantee, paired with free, hassle-free return shipping. That way, they’ll have nothing to lose—except maybe an hour in line at Wal-Mart.

So take a look back at your eCommerce site from the eyes of these consumners – do you have what it takes to overcome these fears?

Blue Acorn

For all your ecommerce needs, Blue Acorn provides an integrated team of designers, developers and strategists who work together to deliver engaging shopping experiences for your customers and efficient processes for you. Whether you’re looking for a fundamental or incremental change, the team at Blue Acorn will adopt your ecommerce KPIs as our own and deliver the results that matter most to your organization. For brands like The Real Real, Peter Thomas Roth, and Too Faced Cosmetics, we provide services such as ecommerce design, systems integration, A/B testing, new feature development, and personalization.

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