"Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you." ~ Mark Cuban
Buying online can be easy or it can be very difficult. On one website, it took me 20 clicks just to find the item I was looking for, and in that time, I thought about abandoning the search many times. Most people will leave the site if it takes more than three clicks.
If you are a business that sells goods online you must make it easy for people to find the products they want and check out quickly. If you do not, you risk losing the business.
Your website must be clean and simple to navigate. If you have too much information, it looks jumbled. People get overwhelmed and frustrated because they cannot find what they want quickly, so they leave. Take, for example, the Harbor Freight Tools website, harborfreight.com. There is too much information and too many choices, making it difficult to use.
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We are all short on time these days and overloaded
with information. We must simplify our lives if we are going to survive, so having products or services that are easy to use is critical. The businesses that understand this and find a way to deliver are the ones that will thrive.
Amazon now has Dash, which utilizes a small electronic device they call a "button" to allow customers to quickly and easily reorder products they use frequently. When running low, all the customer has to do is push that product's Dash button, and it is delivered within two days. Customers pay $4.99 for each product's Dash button, but that $4.99 is refunded on the first order.
Currently, Dash buttons are only available for less than 25 products, but I am quite sure this number will grow as demand increases.
Clearly Amazon understands how important it is to make it easy for customers to purchase goods and has developed a strategy for it. Their use of drones in delivery is another way they are making it easy for people to choose Amazon.
This is also important in bricks and mortar. You want people to be able to move quickly and easily through checkout, which is why I am a fan of the self-checkout. Some people are not thrilled about this, but the technology has come a long way, and it is now easy and quick. Having to wait in line for eight people to check out before you can is a big pain. Customers remember the stores that allow them to get in and out fast and will keep choosing the ones that make it easy.
In addition to purchases, returns should be easy too. Two firms jump to my mind as examples of companies that do returns well: Hammacher Schlemmer and REI. Both offer lifetime warranties on products purchased, with only a few exceptions.
Kohl's is another great example of a company with a friendly return policy. They allow customers to return products without receipts, which makes it a joy to buy knowing you can return anything with no questions asked.
It is not difficult to understand why customers appreciate easy return policies, but the merchant stands to benefit as well. When returns are easy, people feel more confident about buying.
For example, a good friend of mine recently added a new product to his offerings. The product utilized new technology most people had some reservations about, but when he added a policy that made returns easy, his sales increased by more than 15 percent, and his returns were less than half a percent.
Jerry Osteryoung, a business consultant, is a Jim Moran professor of entrepreneurship (emeritus) and professor of finance (emeritus) at Florida State University. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.