In Conversion Review we visit a website as if we were a potential customer and assess how well the site does at converting visitors into buyers. For this review, we visited The Russian Store, acting as a customer who wished to purchase some Russian collectibles. Staff of The Russian Store requested this review.
The Russian Store has been selling Russian imported gifts and collectibles for over 10 years and has had an online presence since 2003. The website offers roughly 5,000 products for sale at any one time.
Arriving at The Russian Store website, my first impression was positive. The design is uncluttered and there are a variety of clues that indicate this is the right place to buy Russian collectibles. These clues include photographs showcasing classic Russian nesting dolls, amber jewelry and colorful Pisanki eggs, as well as some brief information about The Russian Store, and a navigation bar showing the major product areas. The search function is prominently placed, giving me confidence that I could easily find what I was looking for. However, the heavy focus on nesting dolls on the home page may mislead some customers into thinking that The Russian Store has a very narrow product range.
Does the company seem trustworthy?
The home page inspired my trust. Not only was the design clean and uncluttered, but there was a “Customer Service” link at the top of the home page along with the company’s phone number. Making it easy for customers to contact you is good.
Also on the home page is some brief informative copy about the company. The fact that The Russian Store has been trading since 1994 is missing from the home page and this could be a selling point as customers like to feel that they are dealing with an established company. This information is in the “About Us” section, however, the link to this was at the bottom of the page and not very accessible.
Some positive customer testimonial snippets would also have added to the overall feeling of trustworthiness.
Is it easy for me to find the right product?
I found it easy to find gifts because I could narrow my search by price and by theme. I also found “Gift Ideas” a good place to start. When I found a nice pair of earrings, the website helpfully suggested other jewelry ideas.
However, the product information was often insufficient or just plain wrong in some cases. For example, the Cute Pigs Nesting Dolls refers to a family of bears in the description. Good product information is crucial to support customer decision-making. Poor product information will impact sales.
Customer reviews or ratings, particularly for the books, would have been helpful in supporting my decision-making. I also wanted much bigger photos (the large photos were not particularly large), and in some cases I wanted more photos (not just one or two). While the product page provides a link to more photos, it would be a good to show a list of small thumbnails on the page.
What was missing was any sort of information for each major product category. For example, something about the history of nesting dolls, what makes them unique, and so on, this would have significantly enriched my shopping experience.
Will I get good service?
As a potential customer, I ask, “If I were to buy something from this site, when would I receive it and what would happen if I wasn’t happy with my purchase? And, have other customers received good service from The Russian Store?”
The Russian Store website addressed my questions well and a “Customer Service” link was prominently displayed on the top of each page. However, there were no testimonials relating to previous customers’ experience of the service they received. Testimonials are an important tool for establishing trust and credibility, and converting visitors into buyers.
How easy was it for me to buy?
About 50 percent of potential customers are lost in the checkout process so it’s important to make this as easy as possible. While I found the checkout relatively painless, I was frustrated by the fact that there were no gift-related options (such as omitting the price from the packing slip).
Overall, The Russian Store website is well-designed with clear navigation. It largely supports the main roles that customers take when buying online. However, increased sales would be likely if gift options were offered, and more category and product information was included to support customer decision-making.
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