There Are No Mulligans in E CommerceLet me start out by saying that I am not a golfer. Truth be told, I’m much better suited for creative endeavors than athletic ones although I am incredibly envious of those with athletic skills! Anyway, long story short, I’m working a golf scramble fund raiser for a local university women’s basketball team tomorrow afternoon and in talking with my friends who will be golfing the event, a golf term arose that struck me as being particularly relevant to ecommerce.

The back story on my new vocabulary word is that “Mulligans” will be sold to golfers that wish to buy them as part of the fundraiser. The term “Mulligan” is essentially golf-speak for a do-over. WiseGeek.com states, “The term ‘mulligan’ is used to refer to doing something again after doing it poorly the first time, with the second effort replacing the first.” During their round of golf, a golfer with a Mulligan in their possession can use it to redo a shot that they are unhappy with. Using a Mulligan means the botched shot doesn’t count against their score.

While the term has its origins in golf, it is also used in other settings. As I was considering the idea of how nifty it would be if we could all have a little stockpile of Mulligans to use in our day-to-day lives, the reality hit me:

There are no Mulligans in ecommerce.

There are no “do-overs,” no second chances for a first impression with your ecommerce customer and if you have fooled yourself into thinking that you get another chance to win them over if your site fails to impress them, you’re highly mistaken. The tough reality is that today’s ecommerce consumers–whether for business or personal use–are fickle and demand an exceptional customer-centric shopping experience.

Here are six tips to help you ensure that your ecommerce site makes the best possible first impression that it can:

  1. Guide your customer through the ecommerce experience. Sites that effectively propel the visitor through the buying process are likely to be more successful than those that leave visitors to their own devices.
  2. Provide enough information. The reality is that information is what drives most people to the Internet–and ultimately to purchase products there. Make sure your ecommerce site offers as much relevant information as possible including alternate images, consumer-generated content such as product reviews, and exceptional product content.
  3. Review your site periodically and make sure that it looks the way you intended. Errors such as broken links, typos, misspellings, and images that don’t render properly are likely to leave your visitor questioning your site–and potentially your products.
  4. Allow your customers to shop when and where they want to. If you think your customers only shop from their desks or laptops, think again. Make sure your ecommerce site is optimized for mobile commerce, delivering site content in the format that best suits the device your visitor is using.
  5. Include robust search capability. Surprise! Your customers are human. They will forget the name of the product they want to buy from you, lose their invoice that shows product numbers and flat out avoid looking up old orders to find the information they need. Combat all of these issues by providing robust search capability on your ecommerce site.
  6. Provide a flawless, so-easy-a-monkey-could-do-it check out process. Customers can’t buy from you if they can’t check out. Nothing is more annoying that wanting to buy something and having the checkout process  fail. Enough said.

Your site has exactly one shot at making a good first impression. Don’t leave your success to chance and remember, that unlike in golf, there are no do-overs in ecommerce. Implementing the recommendations above will ensure that you are never left wishing you could use a Mulligan with your customers.

To learn more about how to maximize the success of your B2B ecommerce site, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.