Creating a satisfying e-commerce experience is not just good for your customers—it is also good for you.

 

If you have decided to include e-commerce functionality in your online presence, it may be worth taking some time to think of ways that you can provide a good experience for your customers.

Customers who have a good experience with your website are more likely to complete a transaction, and more likely to come back again.

The online shopping process

Typically, online customer transactions follow a process that is very much like shopping in the physical world:

Browsing through the products or services on offer.

 

  • Selecting the items that they want to purchase.
  • Placing these in a (virtual)  shopping cart.
  • Proceeding to the ‘checkout’.
  • Arranging for the delivery of the products or services.
  • Paying for the purchases with their preferred (electronic) payment method.

If this sounds complex, remember that you do not necessarily have to create this whole process yourself. For information on products and services that can help you to create an online store, see ‘Choosing a sales platform’.

 

What do you look for when you buy online?

If you are having trouble deciding what e-commerce features to prioritise on your website, it could be helpful to go to an existing online store and go through the process of buying something. This could help you build up an idea of the features that are important to you when shopping online.

For example, you may decide that the ability to compare the benefits and prices of items is crucial, or that products like yours need multimedia content like videos or multi-angle image viewers to effectively convey their features and benefits.

Making sure that your e-commerce system looks after you and your customers

There are a number of things that you can do to try to create the best experience for you and your customers (or, in the case of community organisations, donors).

For example, it may be beneficial to:

  • Establish trust with your potential customers so that they are comfortable purchasing from you online.
  • Have reliable systems in place to ensure that you meet the expectations you create for your customers. This includes adequate delivery systems and the ability to provide customer support.
  • Take steps to protect your organisation from fraud (such as unauthorised credit card transactions). For more information, see ‘Security and legal’.

Building trust by providing information

It is important to earn the trust of a customer if you want them to make a payment to you online. This may involve making sure that they have enough information about the online payment process.

This includes making sure that:

  • The customer knows the exact final charge—including all taxes and, if applicable, shipping costs.
  • The customer knows all they need to know about donating or spending money with you—including policies on returns, refunds and complaints.

Much of this information can be brought to the customer’s attention during the virtual  shopping cart process and with reminder buttons and links on the payment page.

DigitalIQ tips

Public comments build trust

Consider allowing customers to leave public comments on your website. This could be reviews of your products or recounts of their experiences with your service. This shows faith in your own organisation’s capability.

It is a good idea if your online payment process also:

  1. Clearly explains the products, services or membership you are selling, so that your customers have realistic expectations.
  2. Clearly states how and when you will deliver, activate or supply the products or services. For example, if you are supplying physical products this may include specifying:
    • The delivery time that customers should expect.
    • How you will deliver the products and what the customer’s obligations are for receiving the products.
    • How the customer can contact you if the products do not arrive on time.
    • What action you will take to help if the products do not arrive.
  3. Provides a method of collecting payment in a way that is convenient and that your customers will find familiar and comfortable.
  4. Provides business contact details such as a phone number and email address for customers to request information prior to a transaction or to raise any issues and complaints. For more information, see ‘Online customer service’.
  5. States the terms and conditions for purchases from your website, including the responsibilities of customers (such as providing an accurate delivery address) and policies for cancellations and refunds.
  6. Informs customers that their credit card details are secure and that they are safe from scams.

You can find more information on what customers may be looking for when judging the security of your site on the Australian Government’s Stay Smart Online website. For more information on keeping your customers safe online, see ‘Protecting your customers’.

DigitalIQ tips

Keep on top of any potential legal issues

When you engage in e-commerce, you may be exposed to an increased number of potential legal issues. You might like to take the time to make yourself familiar with the Australian Guidelines for Electronic Commercelink and review the ‘Legal tips’ section of this site. You should also consider whether to seek independent legal advice.