online shopping

Online purchases are increasingly becoming the preferred way to shop with the US having around 200 million online buyers alone and the economy expected to reach $491.5 billion by 2018. However, only a quarter of small businesses in the US are selling online.

Customers can shop on the go or from the comfort of their homes. If reports are to be believed, online stores are as successful as brick and mortar stores – at least in some niches. However, still a large portion of customers prefer to shop from physical stores. So how does one win these customers as well? Read on to find out what customers see when buying online.

1. Availability of Free Shipping

This is an almost essential option as customers have come to expect it from every online vendor. Plus, buyers are expected to spend up to 30% more if a business offers free shipping. If you cannot afford this then at least try to offer shipping on specific promotional items to attract customers. A huge number of people prefer buying online to save time and money spent on going to a store, if they have to spend on shipping then they might just prefer a trip to the store. Plus, reports say that buyers are even willing to wait a few extra days if they get free delivery, giving sellers a chance to offer even more.

2. Ease of Use

This covers a myriad of factors including the ability to search for products and filter according to the need (by color, brand, gender, etc.). Having all these usability features in place enhances the online shopping experience making it easier for buyers to get what they want. Also make sure that the navigation is efficient and that the overall website works at a fast speed. Slow merchant websites often cause users to get frustrated and abandon the purchase. Plus, a lot of people even get distracted at the time of checkout due to various reasons including a complex registration method, sudden increase in purchases, etc. According to reports, business’s failure to show shipping cost in the beginning is a major reason why many buyers decide not to buy at the time of checkout.

3. Available Payment Methods

Be sure to offer your customers the most common payment methods. The regular credit card, debit card, and Paypal are a must. Additional options will also be useful in driving up conversion rates. Plus, if you are a local store then ‘pay at door step’ may also be a convenient option since a number of users still are not sure of giving credit card information online.

4. Returns and Cancellation Policies

The rules for returns and order cancellations play a role in the customer’s decision. Customers today want increasing flexibility from merchants. Online shopping is seen as a risk because the customer does not physically verify the purchase. Being able to return the product and getting refunds is an added bonus for the customer. Businesses should clearly state their rules and procedures for cancelled and refunded orders.

5. Online Reviews of your Business

Encourage your customers to leave reviews and feedback, this will help you build a credible online reputation. Customers will make purchases quickly from a business that has positive reviews. People don’t just check the Facebook page, they tend to look at objective third-party websites for reviews of the business as well. So pay attention to comments and complaints on major websites and respond appropriately. About 88% of customers say that they read reviews in order to determine the quality of products and businesses. Also, having your own blog helps as well. According to reports, about 13% buyers are influenced to buy a product after reading a blog.

These are the five most important things that a customer will pay attention to. However, this is not it – since businesses and buyers are different you need to study your target audience and then work accordingly. However, these five tips will definitely help.