Grumpy old woman’s guide to Christmas shopping

Best practice e-commerce tips – thoughts from a grumpy old women at Christmas.

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So I may be a contender for this year’s Grumpy Old Women programme after this rant but having done the majority of my Christmas shopping online already this year, I’m going to share with you my biggest bugbears of the online checkout process.

As well as this post being written to highlight industry best practice, I write for all those busy working mothers who avoid visiting the high street with children in tow and who therefore spend their lunch hour manically ordering Christmas presents online!

  • Give me a time frame: Tell me how long I’ve got before you remove items from my basket to sell to someone else. If stock is moving that quickly – I’m happy with a timer. Just don’t let items disappear without telling me.
  • Provide a wish list or saved list: If I don’t buy within the time frame above, move my items to a separate wish list so that I can at least revisit your site and quickly see what I liked.  If you’ve sold out then offer some other options – but if I have to start from scratch I may not bother.
  • Calculate my discount before I buy: I’m a sucker for a bargain but if I’m not convinced a discount code will still be working and I can’t confirm that until later in the process, I may choose not to progress with the purchase.
  • Don’t make me re-input data: My patience really wears thin if I start the checkout process, then go to add something new to my order and then get asked to input the same checkout information again. Similarly if you make me register to checkout on your site, I expect these details to be transferred to the checkout pages.
  • Keep the form simple:  If I’m buying, don’t complicate things by asking me unnecessary questions like my children’s birthdays or gender. I just want to buy and get on with my life.
  • Explain my checkout form errors/omissions:  If I make a mistake on the form at the check out,  tell me exactly what the mistake is. It makes me very angry when I get an error message and then I can’t quite tell what I’ve done wrong or which box hasn’t been completed.
  • Allow me to dispatch to multiple addresses: Not complicated and it makes your site so much more appealing if I can send a present directly to a friend or relative.
  • Allow me to give specific delivery details: i.e. don’t lob items over my side gate where I might find them sopping wet next January. The ability to state, “Please leave with my (very kind) neighbour at no.9,” is preferential.
  • Make the final purchase button really obvious: I was taken through so many screens at one particular retailer that I thought I’d finished the purchase and as my inbox was bursting at the seams, I didn’t notice I hadn’t received an email confirmation. I realised why when I went back in to the site – I had to scroll down to find the button.
  • Give me a customer care number: If I change my mind about colour or size, make it easy for me to call and change my order immediately – don’t make me receive the wrong order, fill in a replacement form, post it back etc.
  • Don’t tell me you are out of stock after I’ve made the purchase: I won’t just be annoyed that I can’t have the item – I’ll also be wound up that you wasted my lunch hour.

Last year, Brits spent more online than ever before. In fact December saw a high of £6.8bn – 25% more than the previous year.  I’m currently feeling pretty smug that I’m almost done on the Christmas shopping front but retailers beware – consumers are becoming increasingly savvy in their expectations of checkout processes.

Even the shopaholics and lunch hour mothers among us are abandoning purchases if the process is too complicated, clunky or intrusive.

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