When I’m not writing about ecommerce, I spend a large amount of time playing with broken glass. Now before you assume I’m insane, I’m a mosaic artist. Broken glass is the name of the game for me in my spare time, but I digress.

The other day I was in the market for some 12″x12″ mirror tiles to cut into small chunks and use in a bigger piece I’m working on. You know, the mirror tiles that people put on their walls in the 70s and can still be seen in dive bars across the country from time to time. Being one to check the Wild Wild Web (I’m pretty sure that’s what the WWW stands for) first to see who carries such a random item, I hit up the biggest of the big box home improvement store websites and got a hit. 6 tiles for $9.99. Not bad, but being the frugal shopper that I am (especially when I’m buying something to break it), I kept shopping around.

I recalled that the Swedish big box store sold those tiles and when I hit their site, I found that their price was better than the biggest of the big boxes. The trouble with the Swedish big box is that it’s out of my way. There is another local home improvement store near my home but the last time I looked, they didn’t have an ecommerce presence, so you couldn’t buy or reseach their product offering online before hitting the store. The best you could do was call them. So, I went to their website to look for the local store number…

Lo and behold–what before my wondering eyes should appear, but an ecommerce site! With SEARCH capabilities! I was stunned and pleasantly surprised until I typed in “mirror tile” and got this:

When Having No E-Commerce Site is Better Than the One You Have

And it’s a swing….and a miss!

No where on the product page did it tell me how many tiles I could purchase for $9.99 or whether the item was also sold in store. And what’s up with the product “image?” At first I wasn’t sure if I was looking at a page for aluminum tile, sheet metal, or mirror tile.

In the end, I had to call the local store and ask how many pieces were available in a box, which sort of defeated my purpose in online shopping to begin with. (Apparently there are 6 per box which I should have deduced from the number of tiles in the illustration.) It turns out that if I go to the local store and buy my mirror tile, I can buy 6 pieces for $8.98 which, it turns out, matches the Swedish big box store and is a lot closer to home. So, this is what I will do, but I have to say that I was less than impressed with my ecommerce shopping experience.

The Moral of the Story

So, what does my quest for mirror tile for mosaic art have to do with you and your ecommerce site? Only one clear thing: If you’re going to go to the trouble (and expense) of creating an ecommerce site, make sure that it gives your customer all the information she needs to know. Make sure that you use a high quality product image–I guarantee that the mirror tile supplier has a prettier image than the one I saw on the website–so that your customer immediately knows she is in the right place and is looking at the right item. List key facts about the item such as pieces per box, dimensions and whether the product is available in a local store. Had I planned to buy my mirror tile online, I would have also wanted to know how much that box of tile weighed to help me prepare for the cost of shipping, which was also left off the product page.

In short, make sure your ecommerce site doesn’t disappoint your shoppers.

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