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Is YOUR site ready for Christmas?

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As webmaster of a UK shopping directory I get to review many online shopping sites. I take about 60 seconds to decide whether the site should be added to the directory. And what I look for, in those crucial first seconds, is what YOUR site-visitors look for too. They’re deciding whether they trust you, whether they want to buy from you; or whether to somewhere else!

The bad news is that I am more patient than your site-visitors!

The good news is that your site can be ready for customers (and ready for Christmas), with just a few common-sense changes!

(I have included (some of) the results from a recent study undertaken by Anderson Consulting. Their report highlights the top 10 problems online customers experienced during their holiday shopping last year. Their figures make interesting reading!)

So what do I look for?

1. Is Your Site Safe AND Secure?

Of course your site is safe AND secure! You’re a member of a safe-shopping scheme, and you pay lots of extra money for those secure servers! You know it, but does your site display the safe- shopping logos proudly? Or do your visitors have to hunt around to check how safe you are? Make it easy for everyone, and put the safe-shopping logos high-up on your home-page!

And if you’re not a member of a safe-shopping scheme, you should be! Why is anyone going to trust you, otherwise?

http://www.which.net/webtrader/ – popular UK scheme http://www.bizrate.com – US/International scheme

2. Does Your Site Look Professional?

(26% said the [shopping site] was too difficult to navigate -Anderson Consulting.)

How do I decide whether a site is well-designed, and professional? Maybe it’s a great color-scheme, or layout. Maybe it’s clear images, good use of fonts, or an impressive Flash movie. Maybe it’s all of these things (or none of them)!

Basically, your site should: * Be easy to navigate, and quick to load * Have clear and easy-to-find benefits for your customer * Not rely technology your visitors might not have

Break these rules, by all means; just as long as you make sure that your site is CUSTOMER-FRIENDLY.

http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com – how NOT to design your site

3. Does Your Site Have Interesting Content (And Great Offers?)

(16% of online shoppers said the site didn’t offer enough gift-giving ideas to help them make an appropriate purchase -Anderson Consulting.)

Is it REALLY worth shopping at your site? Do you offer a great choice of goods at low prices? Can visitors read reviews of the products you sell? And can they create a Christmas wish-list for their friends or family?… Is there ANYTHING COMPELLING about shopping at your site, or are you JUST ANOTHER internet shopping store? (For ideas compelling shopping, just visit Amazon!)

4. Does Your Site Have Easy-to-find Delivery Details & Costs?

(40% said the product they ordered was not delivered time – Anderson Consulting.)

How easy is it to find your delivery schedule and charges? How easy is it to find out whether you deliver internationally? You don’t force a customer to buy an item, before they can find this information! (Do you?)

Make your delivery details and costs as easy to find as possible! Don’t give a potential customer a reason to go somewhere else! And as for late delivery – you don’t think this matters? You must be forgetting about word-of-mouth recommendations (or otherwise!!), and the holy grail that is repeat business!

The best sites I have purchased items from, send me an e-mail: – confirming my order, – confirming delivery of the order, and – apologising for any delays (where necessary)

None of this is difficult with e-mail autoresponders, and a half- decent back-end system!

5. Does Your Site Have Contact Details?

(25% said the [site] did not provide enough information needed to make a purchase.)

“A site without contact information is a site with something to hide!” That’s what a potential customer thinks, anyway!

Your site should state WHO you are, and WHAT your business is about. Include information like name, address, and phone number an about-us page, and mention a little about your business. Again, you want a potential customer to trust you, so if you have been in business for over 10 years, say so!

If you need an example, why not look at the about-us page I’ve created. It’s not brilliant, but it’s a start. Find it at http://www.shoptour.co.uk/about.html

Your Site Is Now Ready For Christmas!

So that’s it! Several common-sense ways to make your site ready for Christmas, and 2001. I hope you don’t have too many site- changes to make, and I wish you all the best this Christmas.

PS Do YOUR customers love you? Great! Then tell the world, with a few easy-to-find testimonials too!

PPS Anderson Consulting also said that 64% of Internet buyers said they wanted to purchase a gift that was out of stock. (Let’s hope that’s your only problem this Christmas, eh?)

STEVE M NASH is the author of the ebook: “3 Super-Tips To
Build, Promote And Profit More From Your Website.” Download
your free copy now! http://www.wise-buys.info/bonus.shtml

He’s also the author of many popular articles aimed at
webmasters, affiliates, even complete beginners. Read them
here! http://www.wise-buys.info/webmaster-articles.html

Is YOUR site ready for Christmas?
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