eCommerce Nightmares

Hannah Gierosky


At this time of year, it doesn’t take much to induce some truly frightening nightmares. However, ghost stories and haunted houses are nothing compared to some of the terrifying things we’ve seen on eCommerce websites. Don’t keep your customers up all night, tossing and turning over a product with a bad picture and no reviews. We’ve dug up some eCommerce nightmares and ways to fix them. Read on, if you dare.

Unactionable Order History

For a customer who doesn’t like change, but instead relies on the dependability and convenience of the predictable, a great eCommerce tool is an interactive order history. By visiting their order history, finding the product they have purchased before and simply hitting ‘reorder,’ your customer is able to quickly get what they want. But an unactionable order history leaves your customer haunted by a product they can see but not interact with.

The ability to reorder from an order history is a custom development for most eCommerce sites. However, it can be as simple as linking the products in an order history back to their product page. Including the description and picture of an item in the order history is helpful as well. Regardless of the bells and whistles that can be added on for this solution, a product in an order history should always link back to the product page. If the item is discontinued, then link to related products. Providing your customers with options improves their shopping experience and your relationship with the customer.

Poor Search Functions

A customer comes to your site in search of an item they know you carry. After a few unsuccessful search attempts, a blood-curdling scream is heard. It’s the scream of a customer that is frustrated with the lackluster search functions on your eCommerce site.

When set up manually, search functions can be a time consuming, and therefore expensive, process. Navigable search depends on more than just solid product information. It would be a full time job to set up redirects, examine statistics, and everything else that goes along with a functional search option.

At Briteskies, we partner with SLI Systems for their search functionalities. SLI is a learning engine that takes a fraction of the time to manage as a manual setup. Their patented solution utilizes advanced merchandising and reporting in order to produce the most relevant search results for your customers.

You can also leverage Magento's search functions to optimize your customers' experience. Learn more about Magento product search options

Inadequate Tracking Information

Few things can provoke paranoia more than knowing something is going to happen, but not knowing when. Being caught off guard is one of the most basic human fears, and insufficient or non-existent tracking information will instill that fear in your customers.

An easy way to dispel those fears is to keep your customer in the loop when it comes to the status of their order. Sending updates for each step of the shipping process, such as order submitted, payment authorization, pick and pack, and out for shipment, is a great way to keep your customers happy.

Initiating this system is easier said than done, however. This complex solution requires proper integration to your fulfillment systems so as to alert your customers at pertinent times in the shipping process. Avoiding batch notifications or, even better, utilizing real time updates, keeps the information precise and current.

Confusing Checkouts

Most horror stories start out innocently enough. Your customer finds the item they have been looking for. Your site has sufficient information and reviews and the item is in stock. They click ‘add to cart,’ and then ‘checkout.’ Suddenly, a dense fog rolls in. The checkout process has become impossible to maneuver. Blinded by confusion and fear, your customer leaves your site for a less intimidating checkout experience.

In this situation, the solution is to keep the checkout process as simple as possible. This is not the time for product recommendations or other distractions. Once someone hits ‘checkout,’ get him or her through the process as quickly and easily as you can.

One situation that keeps our developers up at night is when customers are bombarded with sign in during the checkout process. It is important to capitalize on the impulse to purchase, and this step just gets in the way. A better alternative is to gather the information they enter during checkout and then welcome them to register at the end of the process.

Discontinued Products and Back Orders

It seems like every horror movie has a scene when the main character can choose between a safe option and one that leads to inevitable doom. Should they run through the well-lit street or take the dark and creepy back alley? Because it’s a movie, they usually make the choice that no sane person seemingly would, heading into the darkness alone and unarmed. Your customer’s experience with discontinued products, however, sometimes involves the same thought process.

One of the many ways your customers can be introduced to your products is through unrelated Internet browsing. Perhaps they are reading an article that features a picture of one of your products. Your customer clicks through to your site only to find that the item is discontinued and there are no other options available. Instead of continuing to search your site, your customer takes dark and twisty back alleys to find that product elsewhere.

This is a great opportunity to utilize product relations and recommendations. If you already have product relations set up on your site, it’s not too hard to set it up for discontinued items as well. This allows you to provide a newer, better option for your customer right on your site, deterring them from taking the spooky back alley.

Product relations are also crucial in terms of out of stock items. Even better, however, would be to utilize back orders. By accepting back orders, your customer gets what they want and you make the sale.

Are any of these nightmares a reality for you? Working with the right team of certified developers can help ease your fears. Contact our team to get started on a solution. 

Download 5 Questions to ask yourself before starting an eCommerce project.

Image created by Michelle Kowalski featuring CC images by: Hans-Jörg AleffMichael HanscomL.C. Nøttaasen, and Aleuranthropy

This post was originally published on October 30, 2014. 

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