287 Show Me the Money
295 Win Customer Confidence
311 Support Comparison Shopping
317 Support Sales with Quality Content
It would be difficult to overstate how many online sales are lost because of unclear product information. At its best, shopping on the Web should be more convenient than shopping in stores, but too often it is not, because merchandise information is insufficient, hard to locate, or simply not there. Makes you wonder if organizations have their sights set on making money or losing it.
To sell or promote products online, you must give people the information they need to make confident purchasing decisions. This chapter discusses the most common pitfalls in presenting product info and provides strategies for ensuring that your customers get the sales support they need.
There are many potential advantages to shopping online. People can research products and compare prices at their own pace and on their own schedule. There's no time wasted traveling from store to store. Even better, there's no sales pressure, no pushy salespeople to fend off. Yet all too often e-commerce is neither convenient nor easy. Looking for good product information often leads to dead ends and frustration.
In online shopping, there's no tangible product to hold, no product displays to inspect, no salesperson to turn to for help. Web sites must bridge this gap by making the research process as painless as possible.
We watched people in our studies get to the right product area but ultimately abandon it because they couldn't find answers to their most basic questions: How much does it cost? What does it look like? Does it have the features I need? Does it work with what I already have? Efficient navigation and a good purchase process help customers buy things online, but clear product information is essential to making them want to buy online.
For all its convenience, online shopping also poses challenges to retailers that brick-and-mortar stores do not face: There's no tangible product to hold, no product displays or boxes to inspect, no salesperson to turn to for help. Web sites must bridge this gap by making the research process as painless as possible, anticipating people's questions, and making sure the answers are easy to find.
Unlike store shoppers, online customers can go elsewhere with just a click. Rarely do they call retailers to get answers to their questions, especially if there are other online alternatives. Unless you have exclusive products and services to offer, frustrated shoppers will leave your site and go to your competitors' rather than search for a phone number, wait in a telephone queue, or struggle with cumbersome telephone menus.
We do not cover all aspects of e-commerce usability in this chapterwe have an entire report series devoted to those issues. Instead, we focus here on how to get useful product information to your customers, whether or not you sell your products directly on your site.