Posted on May 25, 1999
================================================== The Add Me! Newsletter *** ISSUE #33 *** "Free tips for promoting your website and business" Add Me, Inc http://www.addme.com ================================================== ...THIS WEEK'S ARTICLE... >> Creating A Shopper Friendly Site << ........................................................ May 25th, 1999 *** ISSUE #33 *** ........................................................ Message from our sponsor: Now that you've registered your site, you're almost ready to start taking orders. Next, you need to accept credit cards. Charge.Com lets you take MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover. They have the best rates, over 95% of applicants are accepted, and there's NO APPLICATION FEE. To apply right now visit http://www.charge.com/?addme6 .............................. *************************************************** The Add Me! Newsletter is a high quality newsletter created to help everyone promote and market their website. The Add Me! Newsletter has currently over 150,000 subscribers, all interested in this topic. Hope you'll enjoy it! Interested in placing an ad in this Newsletter? Place your order online: http://www.addme.com/list.htm *************************************************** .....THIS WEEK'S ARTICLE..... Creating A Shopper Friendly Site ================================ By Michelle M. Rahm Shopper friendliness is of key importance in attracting and keeping customers at your website. While considering your site's shopper friendliness, keep in mind these two important factors: Simple and Efficient Navigation and Ordering Ease. I. Simple and Efficient Navigation It is evident that many website owners fail to actually "shop" at their own website. So many sites require shoppers to take unnecessary steps to arrive at their desired end point. Other sites have non-descriptive links leading into a sea of oblivion. Don't waste your customers' time with unnecessary steps. Many sites have nice descriptive links leading to specific categories of products on their home page, but fail to put additional category links on each subsequent page! Don't make the mistake of only including a link to the home page at the bottom of each page in your site. Include links to each of the main sections of your website on every page. By doing so, your customers can choose where they go next. No one wants to have to keep going backwards just to proceed forward into your product offering. In addition, make sure your links lead directly to where they say they are leading. Don't make your customers leap frog all over your site just to get where they are going. On one site I visited, I found a link called "view our products." When I clicked on that link, I was sent to a full page of text, which outlined the company history, philosophy etc. That link should have been called "company overview" or something along those lines. I scrolled down that page and at the bottom there was another link called "view our products." When I clicked on the second "view our products" link, I finally reached my destination ...actual photographs of the product offering. I would have preferred to go directly to that link rather than taking a detour through the company overview. Another common mistake is having non-descriptive links in your website. If your customer doesn't understand where a link will lead them, they will likely avoid selecting it. Be very detailed in your link descriptions, and your customers will appreciate it. ==================================================== WWW.YourDomain.COM Reserve your domain today, before someone else takes it! It only takes 5 minutes! Go to: http://www.addme.com/yourdomain/ ==================================================== I visited a site which boasted an "online catalog," and that's exactly what it was. At the bottom of each page were links to pages: 1, 2, 3,....13. This catalog concept works fine in the real world where a person can quickly thumb through a catalog of product photos, but get real! On the Internet we have to wait for pages to load before we can see them in their entirety. After viewing the first two pages of this "online catalog", I decided I wouldn't waste my time clicking through more pages when I hadn't the slightest idea what products were featured on the 11 remaining pages. I have many "online" catalogs as I offer many different product lines. However, for each product line I sell, I take the time to make sure my product offering and my website are well organized. Each page of my website is designed to stand alone in the event a customer comes into my "store" on one of the subsequent pages rather than the home page. Each page contains descriptive links to the other main pages of my site so my customers can navigate efficiently. This way, if a customer has already looked at rings and now wants to see the men's bracelets, he can get there quickly and easily simply by clicking on the link for men's bracelets. One of my many satisfied customers recently included this note on his order form, "I have to tell you, whoever made this site is really creative, smart and knows how to organize things. I wish other websites did the same thing." It makes me happy to know that visitors to my site are finding what they are looking for. II. Ordering Ease Don't attempt to sell products on the Internet if you don't make the ordering process simple for your customers. So many people expect their customers to purchase without adequate product information, ordering options and payment methods. A truly serious netrepreneur needs to consider all these things very carefully. While retail stores take the guess work out of shopping because customers can touch and feel products, the virtual store owner must rely on both copy and graphics to describe his products. Don't just show a photograph of your product. Take the time to really explain it. How big is it? What's it made of? How much does it cost? Is there a guarantee? While photographs are very important for certain product lines, it's difficult to make an informed purchase decision based solely on a photograph, especially if the product is not pictured in its actual size. In my jewelry "store," my photographs are large. Each photo features multiple jewelry pieces in their actual size. While the photos take a little longer to load, by showing multiple items in a given category actual size in the same photograph, customers can make comparisons between various like items. Based on feedback, my customers actually prefer this method of viewing products rather than clicking through thumbnail images of hundreds of different jewelry pieces. I also include a price and description of each item and information regarding the quality of the jewelry pieces in a given category. By providing all this information, my customers know exactly what each item looks like, its size, its price and its quality in detail. They can make informed buying decisions. And I'm not bombarded with e-mails concerning product questions. Along the same lines as providing adequate information is the topic of providing understandable information. Don't be too cunning with your copy. Customers want descriptions in a language they can understand. I once saw a website listing an "18 INCH GOLD HERRINGBONE NECKLACE 14KT" for just $18.00. Curious, I clicked on the link for a more detailed description. The copy was written so skillfully that anyone outside the jewelry business would have thought they were buying a real 14-karat gold necklace for $18.00 rather than a 14-karat gold plated necklace. I'd hate to be managing that company's returns and complaints department. If you insist on using deception to increase your sales, you'll regret it in the long run. Be clear, descriptive and upbeat with your copy, but avoid trying to trick your customers. ==================================================== WWW.YourDomain.COM Reserve your domain today, before someone else takes it! It only takes 5 minutes! Go to: http://www.addme.com/yourdomain/ ==================================================== If you're going to be serious about Internet commerce, you also need to offer your customers a variety of ordering and payment options. Don't expect to be bombarded with sales if your customers have to jump through hoops just to order. I visited a site that not only required customers to e-mail the website owner for product prices, but she also expected her customers to place their initial order via e-mail, then send a check in the mail. Why would anyone bother to buy from her? In a world so focused on convenience, you would be foolish to expect your customers to go out of their way to buy your product, especially when there are millions of websites to choose from. Get a merchant account so you can accept credit cards. And offer real-time secured online ordering. It's safe, it's convenient for customers, it is wonderful for sparking impulse purchases and it'll save you valuable time. It costs a little more for the entire set-up, but it's worth it. More than 90% of my sales are transacted directly on my website. Of course, not all of your customers will feel comfortable ordering directly online. For those more traditional customers, provide a telephone number they can call to place an order and an address for mail orders. If you can't always be around to answer the phone, hire an answering service or get voice messaging. But be sure to check messages often so your customers aren't left waiting. Finally, I cannot stress enough the importance of testing your virtual store ordering system on a regular basis. We all know that systems go down and things don't work perfectly all the time. Nothing is more annoying than trying to place an order on a website only to receive an error message. Visit your website often and place an order yourself to see what happens. If you suspect a problem with the system, call the service provider immediately. Many times I have brought attention to problems that the service provider was completely unaware of. Believe me, they'll appreciate your efforts and so will your customers. Now, take some time to visit your website. Have a friend place an order while you look on. Ask for honest feedback about your store. And try to improve upon your virtual store's shopper friendliness. Remember, always keep your customers in mind. -------------------------------------------------------------- Article by Michelle M. Rahm, of JewelryImpressions.Com, a division of Quality Merchandise Brokers. Michelle is an award-winning Internet entrepreneur with a professional background in Direct Mail and Service Quality Management. She has been operating her business solely on the Internet since 1997 and sells a variety of product lines including gold costume jewelry, fine 14-karat gold jewelry, fine watches and discount gems among others. Mention this article in the comments section on your first jewelry order and receive a special gift. E-mail Michelle with your comments or questions at email@example.com. -------------------------------------------------------------- If you have missed previous issues of the Add Me! Newsletter you can find them at: http://www.addme.com/previous.htm The contents of this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Add Me, Inc. Add Me, Inc makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, about the truth or accuracy of the contents of the Add Me! newsletter. We want this newsletter to be the best one around. If you have suggestions, ideas, or feedback about this newsletter, feel free to email us at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org If you know someone that could be interested in receiving this high quality newsletter, feel free to forward this email to that person. If you are interested in sponsoring this newsletter, place your order online: http://www.addme.com/list.htm ================================================== (c) Copyright 1998-1999 Add Me, Inc ==================================================
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