Are You Making it Easy For Customers to Buy From You?

are you making it easy for customers to buy from youCustomers are the lifeline of any business, small, medium or large. While they may be termed differently in various industries (ie clients or patients), they are what keep the doors open and the motivation to continue making strides to improve. As a brand you look to build brand loyalty by creating opportunity and avoid brand switching. Strategy, plans and goals are built into the marketing plan but the customer experience on how easy it is to buy from you seems to get lost in the shuffle. As a business owner we look at the numbers, the shelves or the website but what about becoming our own customer? How many times have you tried to buy from you?

Customers Need Easy

It is easy to buy from you, right? Every business believes it is easy to buy from them or it would not be open. There may be some quirks, but, would anyone advertise that it takes 20 minutes to purchase, NO (except a restaurant who tells you it is a 20 min wait when it is not, or those that are trying to slow things down by saying it is an hour so you will leave or head to the bar). As a business we want the customer buying experience to be quick, but, more than quick, easy. Easy fits into our lives and is complaint free. The consumer buying experience is satisfied with easy as they are willing to spend when they do not have to jump through hoops to buy what they have created a need for.

How Easy Is It to Buy From You?

As a business owner, we are all consumers. We go to stores, websites, call centers, etc. and we see their faults but how often do we see ours? For big brands, it is turned over to the retailers. They stock the shelves and advertise the sales and customers have to search for their brand on the shelves of the middle man, the retailer. What happens if your local retailer eradicates your brand  preference as Walmart had done with Hefty One Zips? Or they are displaying a brand at a reduced price this week and double the amount next week?  Is that the brand fault or the retailers’? Retailers, but it hurts the brand as customer either have to do without or choose another.

That is a big retailer selling a brand but what about the smaller business? The buying experience shifts to the company itself or establishment as we see with restaurants. The customer almost expects more as there is not a middle man of the retailer. The interaction is closer as they are able to personalize the experience to the brand; your brand.  If the service is not meeting the expectations of ultimately being easy, people complain. In a way, reason is given to complain as we are looking at the numbers, and not being our own consumer. How many times have you stood on line at your establishment, with an arm full of items, waited for food, or being an online that had to endure the pop up in the first 30 seconds of visiting and then having to find it thereafter? Albeit it may be in the right column big but as a consumer who is trying to gain trust the right sidebar is not always a main focus.

When it is Hard to Buy From You

We do not ever want to think this way but it is true. It can be hard to buy from you. If you are offering a one day sale and we cannot get there that one day, we will not buy. Hence, many offering the “preview” or the “early bird” and “late night” specials. Accommodate the customers and they will come and buy  … again making it easy for them.

Do you know when it is hard to buy from  you? I guess if you did, you would rectify that, right? Yeah, not always. Case in point the local cable company here in Las Vegas recently launched a new product for football lovers (right up me and my friends’ alley!) It was to be “free” for all digital cable customers. Awesome, great until the smaller print of $39.99 one time activation fee. Ok, I was the only one who did read the smaller print as beneath that was the fine print that was a bit hard to read. It has taken 3 internet queries and 5 phone calls (to be fair there was 2 calls that needed user verification with the pin {yeah we all remember that from 10+ yrs ago} but the 3 others ???) but it has still not been activated despite us wanting to spend the money.

Small Changes to You Are Big Changes to Consumers

Small changes of moving a button to the right side or the left side on a site, to a business are easily adopted but what about the consumer? For a first time visitor most likely, no problem, but what about a loyalist? Starbucks recently came out with a new drive thru menu that was devoid of the Tall or the Short. Starbucks customers know their sizes and most do not need the menu but for those that are sitting in the drive thru line waiting to order and look over and see that their “size” is no longer on the menu may be hesitant to ask or are inquiring about “their” size shall we say with some authority? This cannot be pleasing to the barristas as they have had to answer the question many times that the Tall and Short are still available (but really corporate took it off the menu so the menu was easier to read – wink wink).

Customers, prospects and targeted are all within your reach and companies focus on that to monetize but forget how to be a customer within their own business. Walk the aisles, stand on line, sit on the phone, get disconnected, try and find the product or service from the website. Forget about worrying about the negativity of social media and focus on the consumer buying experience as with ease … just ask Nevada giant, Zappos!

photo credit: Supercapacity

  • It’s kind of ironic I am reading this while my company is in the middle of restructuring our 3D virtual mall project.
    Back in 2008, it was the first of its kind and we felt that version was the best possible experience we could provide to our visitors (how naive and arrogant!), but with time (and experience) we noticed so many ways to improve it, and so little time to actually make it happen. It’s kind of common to be so focused on client’s projects to be totally unable to actively work on your own.
    Very nice post, it gave me even more reasons to push our efforts to reach our final goal 🙂
    So now that we finally found some time to work on this ecommerce portal we are focusing especially on making easier to buy from us, from multiple point of views.
    For example avoiding the need of filling up long and boring registration forms (and our current registration process feels so bad after 2 years, sigh) or compiling ALL the info straight away, like shipping address and such.
    From a functional point of view, redesigning navigation patterns help a lot, for example finding out what visitors are really looking for to be able to remove (or at least change radically) steps like categories or homepage navigation, focusing more on the products and less on the “satellite” stuff around them.
    I think the only way to really change the user experience, even if it sounds easy and cliche, it’s to put yourself in your user’s shoes and think about what HE really wants in the end, be it to buy products, to have more information about them, to ask for post-sale assistance and so on.