Everybody loves shopping, right? (Except maybe Ben Stein—imagine that guy in Kohl's, or worse, going down a water slide. Two words: man thong.)
You know who else loves shopping? The people who are looking for your services and products. There's nothing like the high of thinking that you found it—the perfect photographer // vintage purse // writer // statement necklace // country line dance studio. Okay, maybe not country line dance studio, but in any case, when any of us are about to push the buy button, the brain gets flooded with feel-good chemicals that make shopping feel fun and exciting. And that's the way it's suppose to be. The more people enjoy buying from you, the more they will. Period.
Yet, too often, we make it hard, difficult, complex, annoying, and otherwise a pain in the ass for people to buy from us.
We don't do it on purpose, but sometimes, as a way to seem more professional, or because “that's the way the big companies do it,” we end up making our customers jump through hoops, and before we know it, we're accidentally putting obstacles in the way of taking customers' money. And guess what? We want as few obstacles as possible to take someone's money. In fact, you want to make it easy like Sunday morrrrrrrrniiiiinnnnnn'. (Sweet tea and homemade strawberry scones included.)
That said, here are the (lucky number) seven things you can do right now to reduce those pesky online barriers to sales, and leave your customers screaming “YES! YES! IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT'S VODKA SOAKED, YES!”—without actually having an orgasm or starring in an Herbal Essences commercial circa 2008.
1. Get rid of anything in your shopping cart that prompts folks to enter a discount code.
What's the first thing you do when you're checking out of Victoria's Secret and you see the discount code field? GOOGLE DISCOUNT CODES, OF COURSE. And what's the next thing you do after that? Get fed up that there are no available discount codes. And then you feel irresponsible for buying four tankinis without a discount code. And then you convince yourself that you didn't really need the tankinis, anyway. And then you leave the site never to return.
2. If you're selling a digital product, for the love of everyone's future arthritis, get rid of the shipping address fields.
Unless your ebook comes with a complimentary case of beer, you don't need to know where your customer sleeps at night, stalker. The more work you make people do, the less people will do it.
3. That said, billing addresses are a necessary evil to make sure no one's committing fraud. BUT…ask folks to fill this info out first, before their credit card.
Cialdini's principles of consistency show that once people start something, they feel obligated to finish it. So put the easier fields first, like the billing address, so they get pretty far through the process before being prompted for their credit card. It might throw folks for a loop if you ask for their CC first, and then ask them all of the seemingly trivial stuff, like their zip code—sure to give them room to get frustrated // rethink things // go for a drink…and click off.
4. Tell people exactly what to expect once they hit “buy.”
People are a bunch of anxious Annies, and if they aren't reassured of what comes after they throw down their hard-earned money, it leaves room to wonder if they'll get it at all, whether or not the transaction was complete, what they need to do next, what they should expect…and more. Your job isn't to add to the customer's anxiety. It's to remove as much of it as possible.
5. Turn your cart into a persistent son of a bitch.
Having a “persistent cart” means that if the electricity goes out after someone just spent an hour adding things to their cart, they can hop right back on and all the stuff they put in there will still be there. Ditto getting distracted, X-ing out and coming back a week later, or some other reason why a person might not buy right now—but may want to later. You have a much higher chance of getting the sale if the work is done for them, and they don't have to decide all over again. It's like insurance against the mother-in-law stopping by interrupting everything. Don't know how to enable a persistent cart? Shopify has a great app for this.
6. During checkout, tell people outright that you aren't going to steal their credit card information.
You know you're a good person, but they don't. With over 70% of people concerned with giving up their CC info, saying something to ease their mind can help conversions. A simple statement like, “Your credit card information is fully encrypted and secure” is better than making them wonder if you're secretly writing their numbers down in a dingy little black book in some basement in Kansas.
7. Don't manhandle people into creating an account. That's annoying.
People don't like being told what to do. Plain and simple. Imagine playing Simon Says as an adult. Simon says: “If you want to give me your money, you actually have to create an account, too.” And you know what most people say to Simon? (Hint: It starts with fuuuu– and ends with you, and then they flip him the bird and try valiantly to chuck a Cool Whip-covered pie in his face.) If they want to sign up, they will. No need to force their hand or blackmail their labradoodle to get their name on a list.
Making the sale isn't rocket science, but it does take thoughtfulness online—particularly when we're all operating in an ADD-infused world, where your competitors are just a click away.
Because the only place you want them clicking?
Is your buy button. <–Not actually meant to sound dirty.