Have you ever found a specific product after an endless search, only to realize you have to first enter the litany of personal information necessary to create the ‘membership’ required to purchase it?
The answer is most likely a resounding yes.
The online purchasing process has become exceedingly complicated, causing even the most Internet-savvy online shoppers to struggle, or often give up altogether.
This poses substantial loss for companies with B2C websites. The popularity of online shopping is skyrocketing, yet many companies are being left behind due to the inability to provide their online consumers with an easy way to purchase their product.
Companies with B2C websites cannot dare to ignore the importance of creating convenient and barrier-free websites, but many are at a loss as to how to make this possible. The reality is, however, that this can be easily achieved through modest improvements to interface design, as well as the amount and type of merchandise information provided..
Who Is The Online Customer & What Do They Need?
While the majority of online consumers are young people who are typically adept in their Internet usage, a growing population of elderly online shoppers has appeared on the horizon. This population is often hindered in terms of computer skills, which compounds the problem of complex online purchasing processes tenfold.
A study conducted by Kuo, Chen, & Chen found that there exist four critical factors that make or break the success of a B2C website:
- The act of searching for products
- The act of examining products
- Evaluating and comparing products
- The final payment process
These 4 elements were found to be the most important to online consumers, yet they were also found to be the most difficult and complex processes, especially for the elderly survey respondents. Thus, it is the best interest of companies to address these four areas when creating or modifying their B2C websites.
The Application: How To Connect With The Online Consumer
Kuo, Chen, & Chen offer several suggestions, and conclude with a case study to serve as an example of an effective method of addressing these problem areas.
First, they emphasize that interfaces must be designed to support the elements mentioned above, and that website designers must integrate “searching for products” “examining products” and “evaluating and comparing products.” They provide an interesting case study as an example of successful implementation of these suggestions.
They created a site where the consumer could select his search criteria (i.e. brand, price range, etc.) then click ‘search.’ The following page consisted of an organized table of information pertaining to products that fit the search criteria. Any products the consumer did not want could be removed immediately by simply selecting the associated ‘x’ button. This made it easy to narrow down product selections, and eliminated the need to jump from page to page, as all the product information was presented on the same page. It also integrated the “searching for products” “examining products” and “evaluating and comparing products” processes, making it easy for the consumer to select and purchase their product. There was no need to remember prices and functions, which made the overall process enjoyable as opposed to cumbersome.
By creating a purchasing process such as the one above, and streamlining the final payment process, you can guarantee customer satisfaction, loyalty, and repeat business.
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