Practical Ecommerce

Navigation is Key

Online shoppers need guidance about finding what they need, and information about the pages they are viewing. We get so used to all our friends and family being online, we take for granted that each and every day, thousands of people use the Internet for the very first time. This leads to the assumption that shoppers will know how to navigate our online stores.

The fact is, even seasoned online shoppers can get confused about what to do, and that confusion is probably costing you money.

While third-party modules are available to help increase the effectiveness of customer “walk-throughs,” you can take care of the basic (and necessary) steps with MIVA Merchant right out of the box. MIVA Merchant includes Headers and Footers you can configure for each and every screen of the store. If you aren’t using them to explain processes to shoppers, you’re losing sales.

For products, you can configure individual headers and footers. They aren’t always necessary and should only be used when you need something to stand out— such as information about a special sale, or special instructions on product usage. Category headers can help you explain overall what kind of products are listed in a particular section, and are especially useful if you want to entice the shopper to browse through the entire listing.

There are screen headers and footers, however, that every MIVA Merchant store should be using, without exception. The account, basket and checkout screens vary in layout across different shopping carts, so shoppers need instruction about information they need to complete and what the next step is in the process. Many customers don’t realize that the shopping basket can be edited, or that they can interrupt the checkout process to remove an item they have decided against purchasing.

If you utilize the Customer Accounts feature, a header on the Account Login and Account Creation screens should promote account creation, emphasizing that credit card data isn’t stored with the account. This gives the shopper a better sense of security. An explanation as to why you encourage shoppers to create accounts can also return a higher percentage of visitors who sign up.

A lengthy list of basket items can force the Shipping and Payment selection menus to fall below the scroll line of the page, so an explanation that something needs to be selected will trigger the thought of using the scroll bar to make the selection and use the continue button to complete the process.

Outlining the checkout process in steps (i.e. Step 3 of 4: Enter Payment Information) indicates how much further there is to go in the checkout process. And a footer including a graphic of a credit card with instructions on how to locate the CVV2 or CID code can save quite a bit of frustration.

Customizing Headers and Footers

Headers and Footers can include HTML, so you have complete control over fonts and layouts. For Products and Categories, you customize headers and footers while editing the product or category. For other store pages, the location for editing these is dependent upon the version of MIVA Merchant you are running:

  • For versions 4 and lower running the MMUI, click your store’s link in the Admin Menu, then Headers and Footers on the right. You can customize all headers and footers for the store screens in one location. If you’re running the OpenUI the header and footer types have been broken into sections.
  • Version 5 users will find headers and footers are configured under the Pages section. Click the Pages link in the Admin Menu and select the specific page you want to edit.

Grab a Friend…

If you’re an online shopping guru, grab someone not so acclimated to navigating online stores to check your work, and take feedback seriously. While some comments about lack of understanding may give you a chuckle and send your eyes rolling, keep in mind that the bulk of shoppers will never tell you there is a problem. They’ll just leave. It’s another fine example of what assuming does. And it doesn’t come cheap.

Pamela Hazelton

Pamela Hazelton

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