The Secret Of A Good eCommerce Experience…

Is making your customers experience as painless as possible.

Sounds easy? It should be, yet so many sites get it so wrong.

I’m going to pick on a company called Scan, they sell computer hardware and related items and we occasionally buy components off them for our business.

Over the past two days I’ve had two similar bad experiences, both exactly the same but for different orders, combined with the fact that I’ve never liked their site I thought I needed to vent (constructively of course!).

Overall their site design is okay, they have a very busy homepage but you can quickly tell what type of items they sell. I’m sure most visitors want to see component options and prices so the top category menu probably works quite well for them.

In my eyes though they have some fundamental problems:

1. Product Navigation & Display

Although I think the expanded horizontal top navigation is a good starting point, once you select an option you get a pop out window from which you have to then tick the subcategories that you want to view.

I don’t like having to make this selection upfront, I don’t like the tick boxes and often there seems to be little difference in some of subcategory descriptions making selection something you have to really consider.

When you get to a product listing page the initial screens are full of adverts, text or links to learn more about the components, meaning products are pushed right down towards the bottom of the page.

Finally when you use the filtering tools, which are further up the page than the products so you have to keep scrolling back up and down, you click filter and it seems like nothing has happened. It has actually filtered the product results but you can’t see them unless you scroll back down again…

Scan's horrible login form

Scan's Horrible Login Form

2. Logging In To Your Account

Scan must have one of the worst login forms I have ever used. Just logging in to your account (which you need before you can buy…) involves entering your first name, last name, post code, mothers maiden name and password all in separate boxes. They even split the post code entry into two different boxes… WHY?

I have no idea why they feel the need to ask so many details, it’s easier logging into my online banking!

The layout of the login form also means that every browser I use (Chrome, Firefox & IE) can never automatically fill in the details for me, they get the odd box filled in but never the whole form.

3. Checkout Form

The major fail here is that they automatically add something called Scansure Proctection to every order. It’s basically a month long insurance policy to cover you in case you break any of the components whilst trying to install them.

I’m not against offering this service, I’m sure it will give some people extra peace of mind however I don’t like that they assume everyone needs it. For our standard order value the cost is often over £30. When you try and remove it they flash a further confirmation button in front of you asking if you are sure…

Firstly, I wouldn’t have clicked it if I wasn’t sure, and secondly they are now forcing me to notice the extra charge, find the option to remove it and then reconfirm it, 3 steps which shouldn’t be required.

One thing which is good is that you have the option of specifying a delivery date and time from a calendar and option boxes, this is very convenient and is something I wish more sites did, (I should do it on my site as well!).

4. The Biggest Customer Service Failure Ever!

The other things mentioned so far are annoying, in my opinion Scan could fairly easily resolve the issues and I’m sure it would help with conversion rates etc… however these pale into insignificance compared with the major problem they have.

Stock levels…

When you look at the Scan site for a product everything is listed as either ‘In Stock’ on ‘Pre Order’.

For ‘In Stock’ items it doesn’t show how many they have available, so you try and buy 3 of the same graphics cards, add them to your cart, complete the long winded login and checkout process and go about your day, until…

7:30pm on the evening you get an email saying ‘Delayed Order Notification’, it goes on to inform you that due to ‘a temporary shortage in stock of the following item(‘s) ‘  you won’t be receiving your order as planned. They hold the entire order and don’t dispatch anything! That’s fantastic when you’re relying on components to complete customer orders…

They let you checkout, take the money from your bank account or credit card, wait until you have left work and all their customer support lines are closed then send you that email, how frustrating!

You log into their site yet again, getting even more annoyed at how crap the login form is, and try and find out more info on the order, guess what? There is no information at all, they even have a link on the account menu labelled ‘Outstanding Products’ but its empty, the order details give no indication of a problem either, the only choice is to wait until the phone lines open in the morning.

This happened to me on Monday of this week, when I called the helpful guy said that their site doesn’t know how many items of each product are available, this is shoddy, he also couldn’t tell me why when I made the purchase before lunch time that it took until the evening to inform me of the problem, leaving it too late to arrange another supplier.

The customer service guy seemed to have a bit of a bad attitude when I asked them to just send the 1 graphics card and refund me for the other 2, again not a great way to entice me to use them again.

The problem (for me) is I needed a fairly specialist part yesterday and they were one of the only places to say they had some, as I was in a rush I quickly dropped an order for 2 of them, guess what? The exact same thing happened again. Argh!!!!

Sort it out Scan!

As a company we spend literally thousands of pounds each month on components (sometimes well into the tens of thousands) yet I always try to avoid Scan because of the pain of using their site and the massive customer service failures which their competitors never seem to have.

The things I have pointed out here could easily be sorted out but Scan’s site has had these issues for at least a couple of years, imagine how much money they are leaving on the table because of this?

When designing or running your site try and spend some time making sure you don’t annoy your customers, it’s hard enough to win them the first time and you need them to keep coming back.

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