This post is part two of my online shopping experiences. As I pointed out in part one of this series, I do not do much shopping online. However, in the past two years, I have expanded my horizons. But for the most part, have been let down at every turn.
Part two outlines my experiences and provides information to online eCommerce consumers and inform online storefront vendors of the online shopping experiences that some of their eCommerce shopping cart platforms provide. As I posted in part one, we have to have a general understanding of the terms of these experiences. Below is a list of some of the general industry jargon definitions.
What is B2C eCommerce?
In the world of web-based commerce (eCommerce), B2C (aka, business to consumer) is the exchange of products and/or services from businesses to end-user consumers.
What is B2B eCommerce?
In the world of online eCommerce, B2B (aka, business to business) is the exchange of products, services, and/or information between businesses.
What is an online eCommerce storefront?
eCommerce storefronts (aka, eCommerce platforms, eCommerce shopping carts, or eCommerce software) let you sell your products or services online and even manage marketing tasks like sending email announcements, newsletter subscriptions, order confirmation, and tracking information. There are a host of eCommerce storefront solutions (aka, eCommerce shopping carts) available such as TrueCommerce Nexternal, Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, 3dcart, Netsuite, etc…
What is an online eCommerce credit card merchant?
Unlike retail merchants, who can always accept cash or paper checks, you must be able to accept credit and debit cards (and possibly eCheck (ACH) payments as well). Traditionally, the only way to accept these types of payments was through a merchant account. That is simply an account that processes your customers’ payments and transfers the funds to you, the merchant.
Today’s online eCommerce merchants, however, also have the choice of using a payment service provider (PSP). This performs the same basic functions as a merchant account but does not come with a confusing assortment of fees. Square and PayPal are popular examples of payment service providers.
For the most part, I am not going to call out vendors by name except where warranted.
Experience No. 2: DiecastModelCarCompanyNo2.com
This year I decided to try again to pick up my collecting hobby. I began researching products and possible online vendors. In the early days, you received a catalog in the mail and you mail-ordered your products usually accompanied by a check.[bctt tweet=”Of course, with the emergence of online commerce, mail order is becoming a thing of the past.” username=”ThatCompanycom”]
I found a selection of hobby items at another vendor. The selection came up in the organic search results searching for collectible products.
Well, I thought that I did. This online vendor who we will call DiecastModelCarCompanyNo.2a had a good ranking result. Being an SEO Consultant I followed through on this result. I was not impressed on my first visit as there were no prices on their listings (fail no.1). There was also no sort function (fail no.2) and no filter function (fail no.3). However, there was a link to ‘sale items’. When clicking on this link it took me to a different site altogether, DieCastModelCarCompanyNo.2.com (fail no.4).
I found that rather fishy but scrolled through the listings. But then I found that they had a selection of collectibles that would fit into my overall collection quite nicely. I have seen this collection on other sites, but they were priced out of my budget on those sites. These were not so I added three items to the shopping cart then proceeded to checkout. There was no guest checkout, so I had to create a new account (fail no.5).
While creating a new account I noticed that there wasn’t an option to differentiate my shipping address from my billing address (fail no.6). Why is that important? USPS does not deliver to my physical address so in order to receive mail, I have a post office box. My fear was that the only address that I could enter was my physical address. This might prohibit the delivery of my order if the vendor chose USPS as the shipping services provider. I finished creating my account and went to check out. When doing so I was presented with a ‘check your order screen’ before completing the transaction. At this point, there was a tab to change my shipping and billing information, so I clicked that link. When I did it took me back to the log-n screen and I was prompted to log back in.
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More Failures In The Online eCommerce
You guessed it. I could not log back in! (fail no.7)
I attempted to contact this vendor, but you guessed, no contact us form! (fail no.8)
I found an email customer service contact address which I had to copy out of their customer service page. Then I had to send an email from my personal email account (fail no.9)
All of this was happening after regular business hours, so every communication was electronic. I received an email response the following day stating that they did not have an account with my email address, so the account set up failed. I found out why in just a few days. After giving this order process about 24 hours of thought I decided to give it one more try.
My products were still in the original shopping cart, so I backed out and created my account first before proceeding with the checkout process. As I was completing the account set up process I was given an option to enter both a physical/shipping address and a separate billing address which was not presented when I first tried to make my purchase by adding product to the cart, proceeding to checkout, and then required to create an account which all failed (fail no.10). Not only did this initial attempt to make a purchase fail but it flagged my 40-year-old Visa credit card and put a hold on purchases (fail no.11). I did not find this out until the following events happened.
As mentioned previously, I revisited the site, created an account, and proceeded to checkout.
Which failed (fail no.12)!
I immediately contacted my credit card provider thinking that my credit had been compromised. What I found out is that my first purchase that failed had caused my credit card to be flagged from use leaving me with no access to any credit for 24hours (fail no.13). So, I tried to make a purchase that failed on an account that never properly got created, however, the vendor ran my card anyway without having an account thus flagging my card (fail no.14).
As mentioned, my credit card is over 40 years old, established in 1978, and never properly updated by the credit card provider. It still had seven numbers in the security number field which is what I entered to cause the credit card to be flagged. When I tried to complete my order, the screen refreshed prompting me to correct my entry and enter only my three-digit security code which I did but it never took. The vendor’s eCommerce shopping cart solution tried to run my card with the original entry which caused the card to be flagged even though they gave me the opportunity to correct my input error (fail no.15)
I confirmed with my credit card provider the events with this vendor and the flag was immediately lifted. I went back to attempting to complete my order and things went through flawlessly. All items were delivered in an acceptable timeframe and several weeks later I made another purchase to further complete this collection. On a positive note, one of the items had gone out of stock and they called me personally the very next day to inform me of such and gave me the option to cancel my entire order or they could ship what they had and refund me the cost of the one item.
I opted to fulfill the order with the items in stock and to credit my which they did within 24 hours and confirmed with my credit card provider. In all fairness, there were many failures along the process but the prices for products were extremely low for these pieces, the company has been around for a good many years and they, evidently, grant their employees the power to make decisions in the field which saved me as a customer.
This vendor committed several mistakes:
- A total of 15 points of failure in the process would/could cause many to have abandoned the purchasing process
- I didn’t mention in my outline above but finding products is very labor intensive with no filters and no functions to sort
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It wasn’t all bad…
Did this online storefront vendor get it all wrong? No, here are the pros of this shopping experience
- Excellent search query ranking results. They consistently rank consistently in the top 3 positions in the Google SERPs for the terms that are used to search for products in this hobby segment.
- A wide selection of product once found
- Excellent prices
- Excellent customer service at the point of order fulfillment though I cannot say the same for at the time of order placement
Final outcome? I will continue to do business with this vendor at this time knowing what to expect from their shopping cart experience.
In my next post, I will continue to provide an accounting of six additional instances of unsatisfactory eCommerce vendor service. In the meantime, feel free to read up on this google shopping campaign startup guide to start to build on your online eCommerce knowledge.
About That Company
Founded in 2007, That Company is one of the largest agencies, by staff size, in the United States dedicated to specializing in digital marketing: search engine optimization campaign management, pay per click advertising campaign management, social media marketing advertising campaign management, online reputation management campaign management and organic campaign management, white label search engine optimization campaign management, white label pay per click campaign management and white label social media marketing campaign management.
About the Author: Mark B. Gray
Mark has been with That! Company since the day that we opened the doors in May 2007, starting as a commission only, subcontracted website salesman providing website development and hosting services to SMB’s (small to medium-sized businesses). As the company neared its first 6 months in business a fourth employee was added, and Mark became the fifth full-time employee. Aside from the company’s CEO, Mark was the first employee to manage PPC campaigns. As the business’ Search Engine Optimization client base grew, Mark added Search Engine Optimization content curation and on-page optimization implementation and testing to his resume. As the company neared its first year in existence, Mark became a Search Engine Optimization consultant with a full load of clients to manage. Mark’s strengths include On-page Search Engine Optimization implementation and testing, internal link structure discovery and implementation, backlink disavowal discovery and data evaluation, Google Search Console use and data evaluation, Google Analytics use and data evaluation, client communication, reliability, accountability, and Search Engine Optimization content curation on an ‘as needed’ basis.