Think like your shoppers think and you’re bound to increase your sales.

What is the goal of every e commerce shopping site? Create happy customers that return over and over and increase sales. The consumers of today have lives that are increasingly busy and overbooked. People are on the go and on their devices and all of this has lead to a significant increase in online Shopping. Because they are constantly on the go they are always looking for ways to multitask and make life more efficient. But when the online shopping experience goes from quick and satisfying to overwhelming and time consuming you end up losing sales and customers.  As a shop owner you have three distinct opportunities to influence your customers and set yourself apart from other sites: Before the shopping event commences, during the shopping experience itself, and after the purchase.

So,  what are the things that annoy online shoppers the most? Anything that slows down the process, anything that requires too much personal information, anything that makes them feel “sold”.

Let’s talk about a few things you can do to upgrade your customers shopping experience.

First impressions are still important as ever.

When a potential shopper lands on your site this is the first opportunity for you to make a great first impression. An immediate “pop-up” requiring them to enter their email address in order to continue shopping is not just off-putting, it’s annoying. Find ways to subtly entice your customers to want to stay in touch with you.  Nobody likes pushy.

Create a pleasant shopping experience.

Your customers want a wide array of choices but too many choices can become overwhelming and lead to hours of “research”. Rather than making a quick decision they end up more confused and often abandon the cart before clicking the buy button. The exact opposite of what people went there for in the first place.

Make sure you employ the use of filters to help your customers narrow their search results. Don’t just include a few filters for a price range or type of product category, such as “shoes”. Be thorough. Think about how you might help a customer if you were in a brick and mortar store. What types of questions would you be asking them to find out what they are looking for? Those narrowing questions would help you know what aisle or part of the store to direct them to in order to find what they are looking for. You can do essentially the same thing with your filters in your online shopping store. Make sure your filters get specific enough that your customer can find exactly what they are looking for without getting overwhelmed by the results.

Of course, it isn’t a bad idea to make sure you include a section for “similar items” right below the filtered results. You want to give your customers the opportunity to find an item they might like or didn’t know they needed to help increase your sales.

Another thing you should do to keep your would-be buyers from frustration is to make sure that your items are in stock and your site is always up to date. If you want to display an item that is out of stock, clearly mark that it is and give them the opportunity to be notified when it comes back in. There is nothing more annoying than weeding through a bunch of items and finding just what you want and making the purchase just to get an email notifying you that it is out of stock or back-ordered.

Ensure a pleasant buying experience.

Do NOT require them to create an account to shop with you. Of course, you want to allow them the opportunity to create an account, invite them to, but do not require it. You must allow your customers the freedom to check out as a guest if that is what they prefer. Of course you want your customers to create an account, but if people feel forced to they will often just go to another site for the product. It’s much better to entice them to create an account throughout the process, maybe offer special deals for members or coupons that can be occasionally emailed to them.

Your whole goal here is to make a sale, hopefully many of them. It’s not good enough to get them to push the “add to cart” button, they need to actually go through with the purchase. And trust me, people do walk away after adding items to their cart. Customers want to have confidence in the purchase. Anything that looks or seems weird during the checkout process can make them abandon the cart. You have a choice of how you set up your checkout process. One way you can make it a more secure experience for your customer is to put the purchase summary page before the payment information page. The buying process consists of a series of “yes’s” that a customer will make throughout the process. Showing them the summary of their purchase including the total amount of the purchase with tax and shipping applied gives them another opportunity to say yes to the purchase. This will also build confidence in the sale with you. If you require them to enter payment information prior to seeing the final purchase summary they may be hesitant to push the button fearing they won’t get the opportunity to review the purchase before it just goes through.

Create a pleasant post-purchase experience.

Your sale doesn’t end after the purchase. Think buyer’s remorse. You’ve made the sale but you want to make sure they come back, time and again. Just because someone bought from you once doesn’t mean they’ll come back again. People are fickle and can be easily derailed by an iffy experience. You want to make sure your customer stays satisfied with their purchase while they wait for it to arrive, you don’t want to give them any reason to feel buyers remorse.

One thing about online shopping is that there is no instant gratification. Sure, they saved themselves the time and trouble of running all over town to find what they need. They were able to quickly hop online, have it shipped right to them and boom! errand done. But, they don’t have that item in their hot little hand. There is no instant gratification to go along with the spending. And until they get ahold of that thing there is a lot of opportunity for them to get frustrated.

Order fulfillment and shipping is the perfect opportunity to seal the deal with a happy customer. Remember they are now anxiously awaiting the arrival of their widget and you don’t want them getting impatient. Quickly fill the order and get it off to shipping. An order that lingers in fulfillment for several days before it ever even gets shipped is just going to frustrate your customer.

Keep in touch, but not too much!

It’s always a good idea to have a follow up system in place for your customers. They want to be apprised of the state of their purchase. You will want to make sure you are sending them an update that the order has been fulfilled and shipped (hopefully very soon after the purchase) and make sure that you include tracking information. Remember they are waiting for this item, seeing that you care about their purchase and getting it to them quickly raises confidence in you and their purchase .

Always include tracking. People get frustrated when they feel like their item is somewhere in the wind. If it takes a day or two longer than estimated to arrive, being able to look up and see exactly where it is and when it will be there give people a sense of relief. Otherwise they are just sitting around waiting and hoping it shows up.

Stay in touch but Don’t pester your customers. Staying in the forefront of your customers mind and giving them a reason to come back is a valuable marketing aspect but bombarding them with emails asking them to refer their friends, take surveys,or a bunch of advertisements about things they may not be interested in isn’t going to serve you or them. You want to target your marketing efforts by engaging in high-value email tactics. Make sure that your program is targeted to your customers individual buying habits.

A friendly reminder from your local neighborhood Merchant Service Provider.

Pay attention to the common irritants of online shoppers and adjust your site accordingly and you will have many happy customers and increase your sales for years to come. Remember, word of mouth is still the most popular form of advertising especially with how connected we all are these days.