Making Enemies and Alienating Customers

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There are certain ecommerce website practices and policies that ruin the customer experience. They send many visitors running away at full speed, and make the online shopping process as unpleasant as possible for the rest. These are things that you should avoid like the plague if you are trying to build a business.

  1. Excessive Flash, Ajax, Javascript and other unnecessary design elements. These may add incredibly to your website aesthetics, and they are certainly a great way to showcase your design skills. However, there are definite drawbacks to using them. First, many browsers give security warnings about these types of script that can scare away customers. Second, if your customer does not have the most recent version of the program, they will be given an error message and a prompt to download the most recent version. Some people find downloading unknown programs from unknown websites scary; go figure.
  2. Advertisements everywhere. If you are running an ecommerce website, these ads are probably not a major part of your income, yet every penny counts, right? So you fill your website with ads that at best annoy customers and at worst invite them to visit your competition. This is a bad plan all around. It is okay to have a few ads, but be discreet and make sure they do not detract from either your website or your sales.
  3. Stuff keywords into every inch. Keywords are important, but not important enough to turn your ecommerce website into a spam machine. Use keywords organically where they fit and only there. Nothing screams ‘spam’ like a long chain of keywords that add nothing to the shopping experience. It will ruin your page rank eventually as well, because bots are getting smarter and smarter by the day.
  4. Make customers register at checkout. Which is more important to you: building your email list or making a sale? The answer should be obvious, and yet many ecommerce websites require registration in order to complete the purchase. I personally leave and shop somewhere else when I encounter this. Apparently I am not alone; many people will bounce before they go through a lengthy registration process in addition to the checkout process.
  5. Be mysterious about payment and pricing. I like to know how much I am paying, both for the item, for shipping and in all those little taxes and fees. Being left in the dark is annoying and completely unnecessary. Same goes for finding out at the end of the shopping process that the business only takes PayPal. Be upfront about every little cost your customers will encounter and what payment methods are accepted. In most cases, they will be happy to comply, and it will prevent frustration and wasted time for those who have a limited budget or a limited amount of payment options.
  6. Make it impossible or very difficult to perform an internal search. Some people do not want to browse. They want to get their item and run. Others may not understand your organizational system, however perfect it may be. Internal search will make these customers (and many others) happy and prevent frustration or bouncing. It is an essential part of every ecommerce website.