Do You Make It Easy to Order on the Web? (My Guess is No)
A true story: This past Sunday I decided to order a Christmas gift for our friends Doris and David and another for my cousin Suzy -- ideally the same gift for both, something foodie and festive. I went to the following Web sites: The Swiss Colony, The Wisconsin Cheeseman, Hickory Farms, Red Cooper, Fortnum & Mason, Amazon.com, See's Candies, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Jelly Belly, Mrs. Field's Gifts, Figi's, Dean & DeLuca, Cross Creek Groves, Godiva Chocolatier, and Harry and David.
All were happy to take my order for two of the same item. I could not for the life of me figure out how to send one of the items to Dave and Doris and the other to Suzy.
"Make it as easy as possible to order," said Grolier Enterprises Founder Elsworth Howell. The same catalogers that do it beautifully with their printed order forms cannot translate the simplicity to the Web site.
I gave up and abandoned every shopping cart.
How to Make the Ordering Process Quick, Easy and Foolproof
Start with the premise that the creators of order forms for printed catalogs know what they're doing and Web designers do not.
The secret is to find a typical printed order from any old-line food catalog that specializes in gifts and replicate the process on your Web site.
The Order Form in Print
The typical printed gift order form has a series of boxes -- one for each gift -- with the following copy:
SHIP TO THE FOLLOWING ADDRESS
Company Name (if applicable):
Gift to Arrive By (Date):
Gift Wrapped: Y N
Gift Card to Read:
Item# Qty Description Price Total:
Shipping & Handling:
Total for this Order:
This little box is repeated on printed order forms two, three or more times -- one for each gift order.
Nearby is the place for payment information -- check, money order or credit card plus the buyer's name and address.
In printed order forms, the customer is expected to insert the prices, add up the totals, and compute taxes and shipping and handling. On the Web, this information can be automatically computed and slotted in, making it "easy to order."
Once the buyer sees his order and prices set in print, then and only then should he be asked for the payment information.
Adapting the Print Model to the Web
On the homepage/landing page, I suggest a box with the following:
Welcome! Please take just a moment to click on one of the two links below.
The first link would read:
"I am browsing for myself only."
If the prospect clicks here, give him two sentences of welcome, reassure him with an ironclad guarantee of satisfaction and send him on his way. Include a P.S. that says if he wants to talk to a customer service rep by phone or by instant messaging, do not hesitate to get in touch.
The second link would be as follows:
"I am browsing for gifts that I want individually shipped."
If he clicks here, give him the same message as above. Then add:
1. Click here to browse for (fill in name)
2. Click here to browse for (fill in name)
3. Click here for additional gifts.
He fills in "Doris & David" in line 1 and "Suzy" in line 2.
When he clicks on "Doris & David," he then shops the catalog as he normally would, but with one difference. At the top of each page is the headline:
The item(s) you choose will be placed in the shopping cart for Doris & David.
At the bottom of each page are four lines to click on:
Continue browsing for Doris & David
I want to browse for Suzy
I want to browse for a new person
View Shopping Cart
When he's finished selecting merchandise and asks to view the shopping cart, gifts, descriptions, prices, taxes, shipping and handling costs, subtotals, and totals for each recipient, it's already filled in.
All he needs do is fill in the shipping addresses of the recipients, indicate his gift card/gift wrap preferences and provide his payment information.
Takeaway Points to Consider
- 1. "Make it as easy as possible to order." (Elsworth Howell)
- 2. Don't have one big shopping cart filled with items and then force the customer to figure out how to separate the items for himself and each recipient.
- 3. Make it easy for the customer to delete or change a gift.
- 4. Don't ask for the customer's address and payment information too early in the process. Let him first see the entire order and be comfortable that the right gift at the right price is going to the right person at the right address at the right time with the right gift card.
- 5. Before you go live with the order process, turn 10 to 20 strangers loose on your Web site to create a pro forma order to make sure the system is foolproof and facilitates easy ordering.
- 6. Give these 10 to 20 strangers a $25 gift as a thank-you for their time.
Finally, I invite readers to go to any of the Web sites listed above and figure out how to order the same gift for two different people at two separate addresses.
It may be that I'm just plain old and stupid. If so, disregard everything you've read.
Denny Hatch is the editor of eM+C sister e-newsletter Business Common Sense.
This article also appears in the Dec. 18 issue of Catalog Success' Idea Factory.