Awhile back I purchased some industrial wire shelving to serve as supplmental storage in my kitchen. During my last move, four of the little “slip sleeves” (see the image on the right) that hold up the shelves went missing, rendering one of the shelves on the unit inoperable. I’ve been making do with the four shelves instead of five since the move, but now–just in time to move again (don’t ask)–I’ve decided that I want to use that fifth shelf again. Being that these little pieces are not available at my local hardware store–or anywhere else that I’ve checked–I hit the Internet and quickly located a supplier. (Thank goodness for the ubiquitous nature of Google’s search engines and their use of long-tail keywords or I never would have figured out that those little plastic bits are called “slip sleeves” but that’s a whole different blog post.)
The site was clearly B2B in nature with a target market of restaurants, bakeries, and similar businesses, but allowed me, the humble consumer, to place an order for these important little plastic bits. (Yay for B2B2C sites!) Now, I was cruising along through the check-out process when I ran into small snag–their checkout process failed.
Not just hung up, but straight up failed. It allowed me to put my purchase in the cart. It allowed me to checkout as a guest. I was allowed to input my shipping address as well as my billing address, but when I clicked on the “Next” button to choose my shipping method, the system fell into loop I couldn’t get out of.
First I was told that the type of shipping I selected wasn’t available. (I hadn’t even selected a shipping method yet.) When I clicked on the seemingly helpful, “Choose a different shipping method” link, I was redirected to the billing address screen that I completed two pages ago. After completing one more round of entering my billing and shipping information and being told that my shipping method was not available, I sent an email to their support desk asking for help, but not before I went back to Google to see if I could find the slip sleeves at another supplier. (I could not, so I went back to the supplier with the broken site.)
What’s the take-away for you? Simple.
Make sure your check-out process works as intended. Test it regularly. Make sure you can get through the entire checkout process successfully. If you can’t make it through, neither can your customers and if the consumer can find another company selling the same or a comparable product somewhere else when your site fails, they will buy that product from the other company.
To learn more about how to make your ecommerce site as effective as possible, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.