It used to be my father and brothers enjoyed Thanksgiving Day for the good food and football, while my mother and I cleaned up and prepared for the biggest shopping event of the year. We would get up at 5:00 AM, and we were ready to join in the wild bewilderment of Black Friday.
Now that I'm all grown up and technology has enriched my life with e-commerce, not only do I get to sleep past 5:00 AM and not have to wake up the dog to take him for a walk, I just gather my shopping list and turn on my computer whenever I feel the urge. The holiday campaigns have begun; sales all over television, billboards, and online social media. It can be more confusing than the mall, but it saves the frustration of parking, long lines, crowds, and lack of sleep, but with the added convenience comes more risk and responsible shopping. When you walk into a brick and mortar store, you're relatively assured the business will be there the next day, while an online store could just be that "404 not found" click.
So as a seasoned shopper, I look to the companies I trust. Competitive sites are appearing everyday with some unbelievable deals, and these are the things I consider before I purchase online:
- When I begin my online search for holiday gifts, I am most attracted to professional looking sites that load quickly with pleasing visual graphics, correct spelling, and grammar. If a company can't figure out the difference between "affect" and "effect" or "wrote" and "written," it doesn't inspire my confidence.
- I want the contact information of a shopping site to be in plain view, and I look for their phone numbers and email contacts.
- When a site wants my personal information as in my email address, my full name, my address, and my phone number, I want to feel confident that they do not sell, rent, or trade my information to any third parties.
- I want information about the business. Who doesn't feel they don't know Tony Hsieh of Zappos? He's a real person, and that brings credibility. We're inspired by his success, and we're impressed with his humility; all essential elements to the huge success of his online business.
- Be honest about all fees and time lines. Many of us shop at the last-minute, so customers want to be sure of time lines for delivery. Before even proceeding to checkout, all fees should be listed. There is nothing worse than being presented with hidden fees at checkout.
- Prominently display warranties and return policies. Make it clear how to return damaged items and what to expect if a product doesn't work correctly. Headsets.com provides a return policy with no excuse ever necessary.
- Have a prominent display of good business practice awards. Provide links with social media so customers can feel they are part of the community and have confidence in the store.
Even though people like to shop online for the convenience, shoppers still want that personal connection as online businesses strive for their corner of the market.