a bad shopping experience

Published on the 7 October 2014

When it comes to e-commerce, best practices are well-known and studied, and most websites now apply them. But, more important than a one-click purchase, attractive product pictures, clear delivery options and fees, there is something that you can’t afford to fail. The purchase process simply has to work. From A to Z. This morning, I tried to purchase several T-shirts on a famous clothes store in France: Here is a 3-steps failures story that made me, in the end, abandon my shopping, a 80 euros shortfall for the brand.

1. Forget my shopping bag

As a lot of Internauts, I started browsing at the catalog, adding pieces I liked in my Shopping bag. (I had been invited to do so in a promotional email.) I quickly had 10 items in my Shopping bag, but I was distracted by something else, and I had to pause my shopping for a little while. When I came back, my list was still on the screen. But when I clicked on Proceed to payment, oups… I got a message saying that “Your Shopping bag is empty”. Wow. I had just spent 10 minutes browsing for pieces I liked… Luckily, I am someone obstinate, and so I started the whole process once again.

2. Unclear shipping fees

This time I hurried, fearing my Shopping bag would become empty again. But it didn’t. At some point in the Shopping process, I was required to select my Shipping options. And there, surprise: all the options had a price, whereas my Shopping bag had clearly stated that Shipping would be free from 60 euros purchase! I decided to go to next step to see, and the next page actually informed me the Shipping fees would be offered… As a normal user (at this point I tried more out of curiosity), I would clearly have abandoned at this step.

3. Malfunctioning payment process

I finally made it to the payment itself, powered as often by an independent source. I didn’t find the interface so trustworthy, but anyway I entered my credit card number… only to land on a series of unclear error messages, and finally on a “404 This page does not exist” message. Ok, so that was it: I was done purchasing on this site.

In conclusion, I just wanted to use this experience to highlight one very simple thought: no matter how beautiful the experience is on your site, no matter all the communications efforts you do, if the user can’t actually purchase your products, it will all have been for nothing. Now think about it: let’s say we were 10 persons with the same objective and the same problems today. That’s 80 euros x 10 users shortfall for today. And in a month? That would be 24 000 euros… more than enough to invest in a functioning payment solution, right?