The Online Consumer Buying Process

When you want to make it possible for your customers to compare, order and pay for your products online, you need an easy to use, seamless online buying process. This should encompass your sales message and access to full details about every product they can buy, and then a simple interface for putting in their delivery details and making a payment. Here, we take a look at what makes a good consumer buying process for making online sales.

Abandoned Shopping Carts

One of the main problems faced by businesses who sell over the web is that many online shopping carts are abandoned. The statistics on this vary depending on the genre of online shop, however it is thought that over half of shopping carts are given up on before an order is placed. This is obviously a lot higher than the percentage of people who would walk out of a physical shop leaving behind a basket of goods they originally wanted to buy, simply because going through the checkout looked too stressful. But when you think about it, an online checkout should in fact be a less daunting prospect given that the customer shouldn't have to queue. So why do people abandon their online purchases in this way?

Usually, it is because the process offered to them to order and pay for their items has something in it that puts them off. This can be that they are asked to give more personal information than they feel necessary and are concerned about receiving spam from the company or having their details sold on. Or, it could be that the shopping cart system is confusing or hard to use. Another reason could be that the online store doesn't accept the method of payment they wanted to use, and this wasn't made clear earlier in the process.

Designing a Strong Online Buying Process

If you, as a business, intend to let customers order online, it is important to remove these potential pain points from your process. Do not use your ordering system as a means to harvest more data for marketing purposes, and only ask your customer for the details you actually need to take their payment and fulfil their order. If you use a third party checkout system, make sure it is well tested and easy to use, and has integrated well with the rest of your site. Consider options like a wish list facility that can help customers find products they like but don't want to buy right away quickly next time they visit.

Finally, when it comes to payment types, accept as many as it is viable to take with the system you have in place. Some people have a preference for online payment systems such as PayPal, but other people simply don't have these and want to pay by credit or debit card. Never assume that customers should have to jump through hoops to pay in the way you find most convenient – all purchases are good for your business, so take as many forms of payment as you realistically can, and make sure it is clear throughout your website which you take so customers won't find that the way they want to pay isn't available later on in the process.

If you provide an intuitive and convenient buying process, you should be able to minimise the amount of abandoned shopping carts you have on your site, and keep your customers happy.

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