Imagine you’ve just found the perfect pair of jeans in someone’s online store. They’re the size and cut you want and they’re fairly priced. You head to the checkout, and just as you input the last of your shipping information, you get a message saying those perfect jeans don’t have a shipping method available, and you can’t buy them. Bummer!
So do you e-mail the seller about the problem? Or do you simply look for those jeans elsewhere, where the shopping experience actually delivers the convenience you expect when shopping online? Odds are you’d choose the latter. And so would your shoppers.
In Your AucCom Checklist, we discussed how to ensure your Auctiva Commerce store is ready for prime time. We ran through a checklist of the specific components you should verify before your business starts booming to make sure your customers won't run into roadblocks. Last on the list—but certainly not least—is to do a checkout dry run. Test out every aspect of your checkout process, then check it again, to ensure nothing gets missed that would leave customers in the lurch.
Remember, if buyers have problems buying from you, they're liable to click away to another site—and once they do that, they may not come back. So before you open your shop to the general public, buy something from yourself. (Don't worry, this isn't eBay. It's not against the rules). Completing a transaction as if you were a customer will let you see what buyers see—and experience any technical difficulties they might encounter when they try to buy that nice shirt you have in your shop. Here's a checklist you can use as a guideline to ensure transactions run smoothly.
Test your shipping calculator
Be sure to go through the entire checkout process when you're testing your store. Start by browsing through your items, choosing one and clicking the Add to Cart button. You may even want to read over the item's description to make sure it's accurate, catchy and doesn't have any glaring spelling mistakes—a sign of a less-than-serious seller. You don't want your customers to think of you that way.
Once you've placed the item in your cart, it should appear in the upper right corner of your store in the area marked "Your Cart." The price and subtotal should also be displayed there. Once you've verified that it's there, don't head straight for the checkout right away. See that shipping calculator below your cart? Use it!
If you offer more than one payment option, test them all to make sure the methods are properly integrated into your store
Not only will the calculator give you estimated shipping costs; it will also show you if you have a shipping method associated with the product you're trying to buy. You could go through the entire checkout process and then find out you don't offer a shipping method for that product—but you will have wasted precious time entering your shipping information. So skip the work and use the calculator. Besides, your customers will probably use it. They may be interested in your products, but let's face it: They'll also want to know how much getting that pair of jeans or sneakers to their doorstep will cost them.
Try the calculator a few times, using different zip codes, to make sure all your customers can order your goods, or at least those in the shipping zones you wish to do business. For example, if you want to sell your products throughout the country, try entering a California zip code and one from Massachusetts. This should return at least one shipping method and its cost. If you get the dreaded "No shipping method is available for this product," you know you need to head back into your admin site to set up a shipping method for the product. See Auctiva Commerce's shipping help documentation for more on this.
Provide checkout information
Now that you've verified you have a shipping method for your product, you're ready to add it to your cart and buy it. Doing this is as easy as filling out a form. Once that's complete, you will have to choose a shipping method for your purchase.
If your shipping calculator returned results, you should have at least one method to choose from. Select the shipping and payment methods you prefer. If you offer more than one payment option—which you ought to consider doing, since customers like choices—test them all to make sure the methods are properly integrated into your store.
Most customers will expect you to take credit cards, so you may want to test that option first. To do so, simply choose Credit/Debit Card as your form of payment and provide the necessary information. Then click the "Pay With Card" button. If everything's set up properly, you'll get an order receipt with a summary of your purchase, the billing address and your form of payment. You should also get an automated e-mail thanking you for your order. E-mails are a nice touch to begin building a relationship between you and your buyers. If you didn't get that e-mail notice, see Auctiva Commerce's tutorial for more information on setting up your automated e-mails.
That takes care of your buying experience. Now it's time to get back into your role as a business owner. Continue on to Part 2 here.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.