by Bethaney Wallace

Online shopping is a practice that is continuing to grow in popularity. Not only are companies advertising online, offering coupons, deals, and free shipping – customers are cashing in. More online sales are taking place this year than ever, especially when it comes to gift-giving holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, Hanukah, and Christmas (come this winter, we’ll see if this current trend holds true).

In 2010 alone, more than 142 billion dollars were spent online in the U.S. That number is expected to nearly double by 2015 – a tight three year deadline. But with a current 140 million online shoppers, which is expected jump to 170 million by the deadline, that number is far from out of reach

But when it comes to ecommerce, there’s some who get it right, and some whose skills have much to be desired. For every smooth flowing website, unfortunately, there’s 10 more who lack flow and provide no clear instructions. These blurps are ones that can cause companies greatly over time, especially when not offering customized products. Where would you rather shop, at a company that tells you exactly where to put your money, or one that leads you on a wild goose hunt?

Common Ecommerce Mistakes

Just last week I ordered a new pair of Toms shoes. Not only are my current pair the absolute most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned, the company donates a set for every one purchased. Business combining with charity for a great cause. (And hey, if you think they’re expensive, consider that you’re buying two pairs, not one.)

However, I, as a seasoned online shopper, was baffled more than once during their checkout process. No instructions whatsoever were given, the “next” button is located on the side of the website vs. the traditional (and preferred) page’s bottom. In fact, the following step is listed there instead, which can only be completed after clicking “submit” at the opposite side of the web page.

This complicated the process because users first have to travel in two directions (right, then down), and are shown unstandard button labels. I consider myself no online slouch, and it took me a few tries to figure it out. Imagine how my mother, who couldn’t find a website’s “confirm” button (when it was in the standardized location) would fare. How many websites lose business simply because of bad design?

Even though Toms is secure, has a solid reputation, AND donates to charity, they could still be losing steady business. While their motto is an impressive one – and a standard by which most businesses should model their companies, their online shopping design is less than user friendly.

Ecommerce is a trend that will only continue to rise. Making one’s website as simply as possible is the best way to ensure business without scaring customers away. After all, with that 270 billion dollar price tag nearing, who doesn’t want a big cut?


Photo courtesy of Mashable.