Online Retail Tips: What If I Don’t Want To Join To Buy?

Customer Service

Annoying stuff online retailers do…

I was looking for a good microphone on Google the other day. I started out on my mobile and typed in exactly what I wanted ‘buy ATR 2100 microphone’. There were a couple of results that came up, both for shops that carried the exact product I wanted, and they were Australian based which meant I wouldn’t pay excessive fees for shipping and I’d get it quickly.

I picked the first one because, well it was first and I didn’t want to mess around scrolling (or thinking!). I checked the product was what I wanted, added to cart and I was ready to go. But no, first I had to join the site. I didn’t want to join.

Even though I use Roboform, a password manager, I didn’t want yet another password. I wasn’t ready for that level of commitment. We’d only just met! And I didn’t want the hassle of going through the process, I just wanted to pay and tick it off my list.

So I opened a new browser window, ran the search again and picked the second company in the search results. Apart from having an annoying banner that took up most of my screen, it was unclear whether they had the product until I scrolled down and down the page. But yes, they had the product I was looking for.

It was more expensive but came with a stand. Handy. I added it to the cart and went to checkout. Same problem. It looked like I needed to register but it wasn’t clear. I tried ordering but each time there was something missing. There was no option to checkout as a guest. Why?  What is so wrong with someone choosing not to ‘join’?

I went back to the search results again. Yes, I know I could have just joined and been done with it in the time it took to continually revisit the search results. But now I wanted a microphone with a stand and I still didn’t want to join anything.

There weren’t a lot of other options for an Australian based supplier. I went back to option 2 and spent a frustrating 5 minutes trying to place my order. It didn’t work and I abandoned it altogether.

Why do online retailers make it so hard to give them money? I’d like to think this was an isolated incident but having bought a few things online (mainly for work, of course!), I know it’s not.

The most important stage of the retail customer experience is, arguably, checkout. So it makes sense to get this right and give your customers a stress-free experience.

Here are 3 tips for online retailers to improve the checkout process:
  1. Try buying something from your store on your mobile

Have you tested a purchase on your own site? If not, give it a try and see what the experience is like. Better yet, ask someone else to do it and watch them. Where do they get stuck? What frustrates them?

  1. Aim to reduce checkout steps

 Whatever your current setup is for the checkout process, set a challenge of trying to reduce it by one step. Do you have a way to calculate shipping on the checkout page or is that another step in the process? What can you do to make it quicker, easier and more intuitive?

  1. Give customers the option to checkout as a guest

If you don’t already have a guest checkout option available, put it in place and measure the results:

  • What percentage of customers choose to checkout as a guest?
  • Do sales increase as a result?
  • What benefit is there for your business in having customers register?

The main reason businesses want customers to register is that it makes it easier if they return as they won’t have to enter their contact details a second time.

However, are you trading possible future sales for the current sale?

If they can become a member at a future date then asking them for more of a commitment upfront when they don’t know you or your products may be enough to put them off ordering from you altogether.

The result is that you forgo the current sale and any future sales because you’re perceived as not being easy to deal with. Ironic really, given the whole point is to make it easier for repeat business.

Improve your customers’ checkout experience by testing, reducing pages and adding a checkout option, and you should see an increase in your conversions. In fact, you may be quite surprised by the percentage increase…meanwhile still I’m hopeful of buying a microphone with a stand and not joining to do so.

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