#1 Key To Selling Products Online – Keep It Simple For The Customer, Part 1

And yes, that sounds simple, but I am constantly amazed at how hard some companies make it to buy their products. It’s not just about the products you sell, it’s about how you sell your products and how you convey the information that the customer needs to feel comfortable buying from you. It’s not just about the product anymore.

Here is a quick list of simple things that will increase your customer purchase conversions. These sound like no-brainers, but it is amazing to me how many small business owners don’t do these!

  1. In the footer of each page, put links to Company Info, Privacy Policies, Return Policies, a standalone Contact Us page, a page about security, and possibly an FAQ page (if needed). I will explain these more in detail below.
  2. Make it easy for your customer to get an estimate of shipping costs. The best place to give them an estimate is at the cart page before they start adding their bill-to / ship-to / credit card info. This builds credibility and makes the customer feel more comfortable. Let them know that they will see the exact cost once their ship-to information is inputted into the checkout system and that they still have the opportunity to cancel their order. Many of our clients will use a percentage of sale rate or a flat rate charge if they can’t dynamically pull from UPS or FedEx on the fly. You will also want to copy this on to its own Shipping Costs page with a link to it in the footer of each page as we talked about above.
  3. Privacy Policy – This sounds small, but it is a big one when it comes to customer trust. Even if they don’t read it (I believe most don’t), they can see that you have one; you’ll build a huge amount confidence and trust. It has become a subliminal flag in the industry that shows your customers that you are a real online business… and, yes, I know that there are fanatics out there that read these things, so go ahead and write one.

    Remember that if you are a small business, it’s okay to keep this one simple… truthfully, the policies that make me feel more comfortable are the ones that read “We do not give, sell or trade your personal information with ANYONE!” That’s it. Strong, to the point, and a heck of a lot better than two pages of attorney legalese. (personally it always makes me feel like something shifty is going on when I see those kinds of policies – like they are going to slip something by – know what I mean?) Of course there will be cases when that type is needed. If you are a mid to large sized, business you better have your attorney write it. But for the small business owner, keep it simple!

  4. Return Policy – Huge confidence builder! I want to know what to do with it and how I can return it if I don’t like it or it’s broken. You will go a long way by allowing your customer to return the product without any hassles. My wife owned a company called AvalonGarden.com. She just sold it after building it for seven years. Her return policy was a 30-day, no questions asked policy. In all those years, I know of only a few times when someone didn’t purchase something else when they had to return a product. She didn’t charge restocking fees or processing fees. “Only pay the return shipping if you don’t like it.” If it’s broken, we paid the fees. She did almost whatever it took to make sure that the customer was happy, even if she lost money once in a while. It was a “Makes Sense” way of doing business that kept the customers coming back!
  5. Contact Us – Just do it! Let your customer have the ability to easily find your e-mail addresses (yes, spammers WILL find you – setting up forms works better if you can), mailing address, fax, and phone number. The biggest confidence builder here is the phone number. If possible, make sure that it is a toll free number and post it in the header and footer of your site. If you are a small business or a “One Man Show” this is also the hardest to manage. The worst thing you can do is drop your customer into voicemail. Make sure that the call gets picked up somewhere. If you can’t be at the company phone all day, forward it to your home phone or cell phone. You can easily lose 20% – 40% of your sales depending on your market by letting voicemail take the call.
  6. About Security – Tell your customers about your site security. Let them know about your certificate. Use third party credibility indicators such as Verisign and ScanAlert’s HackerSafe. Like the privacy policy, some won’t give a flip about reading it but some will – so it’s important to address it.
  7. FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions. This is a good place to list the pages listed above one more time and to also answer questions that you are constantly asked (which will help cut down on customer calls). Over time, you will find a customer trend which you can handle online. Work smart… do your best to only answer the question once. You’ve got better things to: like marketing your wares!

These few things are just the beginning. Keeping it simple for the customer is an ongoing process, but these seven keys are a good foundation. Remember, it’s all about Satisfied Customers, Customer Conversion, and Return on Investment. [Keith Enloe]