Great Ideas Roundtable

“What customers want is information. What makes them happy during their shopping experience is finding what they want, checking out hassle-free and feeling secure with their online payments when providing their personal information. What makes them unhappy is when they can not complete the task that they need to complete without fuss or confusion. Customers also need to receive what they ordered; the correct order fulfillment, while it is detached from the online experience, indirectly affects us. Another common reason why people are gun-shy about an ecommerce transaction is they do not feel they are going to get easy return and exchange policies.”

Adelle Emery Director of Customer Experience,

“If I walk into a retail shop, I want the clerk to smile at me and look approachable. Similarly, if I let my fingers walk into a website, I want to feel welcome. Here are two of the biggest writing mistakes that companies make (examples are from real websites):

  • Using language that’s too formal—“Government spending is a major economic driver that has a tangible impact on the economic well-being of every business and individual.”
  • Focusing on themselves—“We are continuously working to improve our products.” The words you choose are important. If you want me to buy, talk to me in warm, simple language. Don’t sell too soon. And talk about my issues (not yours).”

Daphne Gray-Grant Writing and Editing Coach at

“Users hate coming across a PDF file while browsing because it breaks their flow. Even simple things like printing or saving documents are difficult because standard browser commands don’t work. Layouts are often optimized for a sheet of paper, which rarely matches the size of the user’s browser window. Bye-bye smooth scrolling. Hello tiny fonts.

Worst of all, PDF is an undifferentiated blob of content that’s hard to navigate. PDF is great for printing and for distributing manuals and other big documents that need to be printed. Reserve it for this purpose and convert any information that needs to be browsed or read on the screen into real web pages.”

Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D. User Advocate and Principal of the Nielsen Norman Group and author of a usability column at

“Good websites have great navigation, great usability, and they look great. The look, the first thing you see when you look at the site or when you just browse it superficially, has an impact on how you perceive the brand. This is especially important with online retailers who do not have an existing offline brand. They really have to look as good or better than more established retailers on first sight. In order to convert those customers who are pleased with what they are seeing, navigation is enormously important. Navigation and search is enormously important for converting window shoppers into buyers. Navigation means today that you have search and catalog navigation integrated into a faceted-search mechanism that allows people to initially indicate their interest by clicking on a catalog category or by just putting in a search term.”

Stephan Schambach CEO of Demandware

“Based on all my experience while working for various companies and in different fields, the one thing that stands out as a “must do” that does not get done enough is—testing, testing, testing. Too many companies and departments go by gut feel, instinct or because senior management tells them so. But without immaculate scientific testing, none of these things can be achieved. To maximize consumer satisfaction and promote brand loyalty, you have to make changes continuously based on customer feedback. You have to test against baseline metrics, be it using survey responses, usability studies, A/B split testing, statistical models or other scientific means. Without this you are just wasting your resources, time and money.”

Shubhra Srivastava Senior Analytics Consultant for Ecommerce for InterContinental Hotels Group

“As tempting as it is from your viewpoint, and as much as it may seem that it will help customers, you should never under any circumstances require customers to register in order to checkout. That’s a sure-fire way to cause massive abandonment. Customers simply do not want to register to make a purchase and checkout. The much better thing to do is to say, if you’re registered, go ahead and enter your information; if you’re not, go ahead and proceed to checkout. Then, give customer the option, this is the key, the option to register or save their information at the very end of the process—not the beginning. If they want to do it, let them do it. If they do not want to do it, don’t make them do it. Do not attempt under any circumstances to force customers to register or even provide email at the beginning of the process. If anything, offer it as an option at the end. I can guarantee that your abandonment rates will drop dramatically.”

Ed Dawidowicz Senior Consulting Director,

PEC Staff

PEC Staff

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