Things to Avoid in Online Sales
Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life but wise men profit more from fools than fools from wise men. There are some hard lessons I’ve learned about e-store problems, though most of them could be applied for the entire year but they are more likely to pop up during holiday sales. So, be wise & just keep these 3 goof ups in mind to make your system of online sales more efficient.
How to make Online Sales Efficient
Let’s start with credit-card processing.
Not knowing your limits
We all pray for massive business but it doesn’t feel great if you are not able to anticipate its timing. One weekend, we got more business than we expected. Our limit for credit-card transactions that could be processed was too low,so all customers’ cards thereafter were refused. By the time me & my staff realized this, damage was done, as obviously all of this was computerized.
This happened on a Saturday midnight & the customers trying to check out of out electronic mall got this message “We’re sorry. We cannot process your card at this time.”, suggesting that the customers’ cards were invalid or out of credit.
The more tragic part is that I came to know about the problem only on Monday morning when I saw my email cluttered with customers’ messages about the error, more or less saying “What do you mean you can’t process my Visa. This card is good.”. Some of the messages were more in the face. Just imagine how I must have contained myself from a panic attack. Anyhow, I removed the limit right away but as I said the damage was done as we couldn’t get back our lost customers.
Lesson No.1: Be Prepared
Computers are great, but its better if you are aware about the problem as early as possible, so you are always ready, even at the time of flood of business . Also, don’t be too dependent on automation, double check often, and every once in a while, place an order yourself.
Not watching the home front
Business during the holiday season not only stresses you & your staff beside credit-card & fulfillment contractor, it also exhausts your computer systems & network.
Just because you haven’t been having any problems lately is not an indicator of everything is OK. Normally, computers problems appear at crunch times. Have people available who can fix things quickly. Put them under contract if you have to but don’t take chances based on assumptions.
Lesson No.2: Don’t take chances
To monitor our servers , I use the Watchdog service from Master.com. It will prompt message to a pager or a cell phone if a server goes down. It checks the server every 15 minutes & above all, its free.
Though other monitoring services offer more, for a fee. For instance, NetMechanic.com, for about $20 per month, monitors servers from different locations. This ensures that server failures are not caused due to monitoring computer, or network problems.
NetMechanic also computes a grade for your server. It computes an average download time & compare it with other servers. So, your grade is based on how well your server does compared to others. A poor grade, or a declining grade, might indicate that your system is overloaded.
NetMechanic includes Load Time Check in its HTML Toolbox. This feature, by monitoring the download time for pages, spots problems with graphics and other objects that can delay load times. And, for an additional fee it also checks your code for problems that can delay loading by browsers. All pages don’t work on all browsers which mean you losing customers as they wouldn’t be able to see everything on your site.
Not keeping tabs on site.
A poorly operating site drives away customers & sends out unhealthy signals for your business. Site reporting program such as WebTrends.com indicates people are navigating aimlessly & this is mostly due to poor designing. Some glitches are easy to fix but more serious problems require holistic scanning of the system.
Lesson No.3: Be p to date
Site reporting programs let you know how your site is working internally. MS’ FastCounter Pro provides summary of site traffic. It also provides traffic patterns which means you can have a good idea of what most interests your customers and, also tells where your traffic is originating. It costs $19.95 per month, and offers a free 30-day trial. It offers many other features but that will cost several hundred dollars.
Check your site for dead links. It’s normal to forget a link that no longer works. This could be a good chance for your competitors to attract your customers.
I use a search program from Master.com to check the links. The program is free but remember link checker will only tell you that the links work. If the link goes to the wrong place, they won’t catch that.
Make sure everything is updated too. Descriptions of product & “Terms and Conditions” can get out of date. Also, check all the people mentioned on the site still work there. You don’t want customers sending emails to someone who is no longer with you.
Package your site well. Make it look attractive by decorating & embellishing it with flashy but aesthetically done graphics. A festive look could encourage shoppers.
But remember that the file size is not huge because when people open a page, they are downloading all the files on that page. Large files downloading could frustrate the customer.
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