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Should developers care about e-commerce?

I have to admit that my ability to carry through online shopping cart transactions all the way to the till is probably as bad as anyone else. The most annoying thing I find is when I’ve looked up a couple of products, checked for their availability at a local store, changed my mind, looked for something else and then found that the previous items are still in my cart.
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Written by Adrian Bridgwater on

I have to admit that my ability to carry through online shopping cart transactions all the way to the till is probably as bad as anyone else. The most annoying thing I find is when I’ve looked up a couple of products, checked for their availability at a local store, changed my mind, looked for something else and then found that the previous items are still in my cart.

Play.com seems to have got the gist of it so why are the web developers at Argos.com so woeful in comparison? NB: I only shop for generic things like garden hoses or maybe a SCART cable in Argos OK?

Argos DESCRIPTION'

In search of the truth I Googled around with various terms such as, “why are some web sites a bit rubbish”, “online shopping sucks” and the slightly more productive, “10 tips to stop carts being abandoned.” Until finally I hit upon some good advice. Maybe some of the below will sit well with web developers who don’t remind themselves of these points.

Simplicity is key – no surprise there. Upfront availability of contact details and quick replies to customer mails are also high up on the list. Terms and conditions for guarantees and returns should be easily visible. Also, communicate your postage and packing costs early in the transaction and provide alternative ordering methods… presumably for those web virgins who will look but won’t spend until they can finally pick up a phone.

British ecommerce company Actinic (who, list the above points as key drivers) also says that web developers need to make sure that they employ exhaustive security and encryption process – and tell the customers that it is there! NB: This could come from using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or bank-approved software with 128-bit encryption.

Actinic also says, “Make the checkout process as easy as possible. Ensure that the site is not dynamically database driven unless this is absolutely essential – nothing is faster than doling out straight HTML.”

I’m sure we all remember how we felt the first time we gave our credit card details out to make a web purchase. I’m sure there are analyst reports out there saying that we now have better functioning and more secure web sites that will mean we will spend more online in the coming year. I’m sure Argos will get better – and, finally, I’m sure Jeremy Clarkson won’t be giving out his credit card details again.

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