Business > Merchant Voice

5 ecommerce tips (from tourists)

If you’ve been lucky enough to take a break recently, you may have visited a tourist attraction or two.

What do tourists have in common with online shoppers? Quite a few things.

1. They make choices based on reviews

Most of the hotels and restaurants my husband and I have visited in the last month were ranked positively yet not always top-rated on Trip Advisor. We don’t necessarily want to stay or eat at the number-one ranked accommodation or eating place. Instead we make our choices based on what resonates most closely with us, and here, a detailed review helps us decide, rather than a broad, and bland, “It was great!”

A frequent reviewer might have more breadth of experience for us than someone who rarely travels (or reviews). Filtering reviews by couples is more relevant to us than those with children. We note the origin of the reviewer: Someone local may have a different set of experiences or expectations from a foreign tourist. Sometimes the views are more important than the price — or vice versa.

Tip: You might want to allow your visitors to filter product and service feedback by gender, age, location, rating, frequency (of purchase), price, size, or occasion type.

2. They want to be entertained

We travel to learn, to explore our world, to discover something new, to experience something different.

A website with the same images, same products, and the same copy, doesn’t help customers learn anything new.

You have a very slim window to capture a visitor’s imagination. What can you show them on your website to create a memorable experience?

Tip: Offer a fun e-book, a how-to video, a meme, a contest, a chance for visitors to provide their feedback, a forum, live updates from your Twitter feed, or something they can instantly share or show off.

3. Price can be an issue

Most tourists have a holiday budget and they don’t like unaffordable surprises.

Booking so-called cheap flights upsets most holiday-makers because they offer seemingly, unbelievably low fares, which grow progressively more expensive as they add checked baggage, preferred seating, meals, insurance, car hire, hotels, and the like, before taxes and local fees.

You can’t really promote your website as having cheap prices if you add high shipping charges, credit card fees, and any other taxes at checkout without warning.

Tip: Package your prices to automatically include free shipping (even if it only qualifies above a certain price), or try to provide a flat rate to avoid sticker shock.

4. Souvenirs should be small and light

I’m always surprised at the number of tourist gift shops that sell bulky toys, heavy coffee table books, large sculptures, and other non-cabin-friendly fare. Unless you live locally, who can honestly carry that home, let alone on a plane?

Postcards, non-framed prints, local candy, tea towels, jewelry, and other small, lightweight items often prove the most popular with those of limited suitcase space.

Tip: Consider selling items online which weigh little or which take up little space. You could always promote these for the holidays for customers who want to send gifts to loved ones intrastate, interstate, or overseas without expensive shipping costs. Why not create a subcategory of lightweight holiday gifts ahead of the holidays?

5. Information has to make sense very quickly

Many people dislike traveling in foreign countries because they cannot read (let alone speak or write) the local language.

They rely heavily on guidebooks, the rare English-language sign, images, and locals’ and friends’ suggestions.

Imagine if a foreigner, who couldn’t speak the language, visited your website. Could she understand what you were selling? Could she easily order it? Are you set up to take international orders?

Tip: Use large images, currency converters, videos, infographics, cartoons, diagrams, tables, translation services, or a locally written version of your website to help them navigate it. If you don’t ship outside your country, please don’t let them get as far as checkout before they find out; you may want to block their IP address, provide a list of local suppliers or pre-qualify their order to check they wish to ship it within your country.

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Bio   •   RSS Feed