Filed under General , work , Online Stores
We've had such a great success lately with our online store software. Our decision to build our own software from the ground up instead of just buying off the shelf has proved to work hugely in our favour. What's interesting is the angle we took when developing our software. We focused not only on the store customer's user experience but also the our client's experience for managing their store.
One of the best things about our software has to be the ease of use of the admin tools. These are the tools that let the store owner manage products, manage orders, manage email marketing, etc. When we were researching the current online stores out there we noticed that the admin tools were one of the main weak spots for many packages out there. Those tools are either very easy to use but don't give enough options to fully manage your store or the opposite, too many options all hidden away in obscure locations and very difficult to work with. This baffled us. Why would a web company spend so much time developing a nice store front end only to have it impossible to use without training by the store owner?
Our interface for our online store software uses common sense. All tools for dealing with products are stored under the heading 'Products' in our system. Product info is not scattered all over the place under 'Reports' or 'Export Details'. It's all located under one heading because this is what the client expects.
Buttons should also say what it is they are going to do! I'm always shocked when I see buttons with the word 'submit' on them. A button should say what the action is it going to perform is - 'Save Product', 'Update Product', 'Delete Product', etc.
Simple things like asking for confirmation before deleting a product
can give our clients the confidence that they can't break their new
store or give visual feedback after an update so that
they know their details were saved.
If your client is going to delete a department then be sure to make it clear that any products that depend on that department would also be removed and ask for confirmation if they would like to continue or not. If they choose not to continue then give them a message to let them know their action was cancelled. If they actually did delete the department and all the products within that department then once the action is complete tell the end user that everything was successful.
We actually pride ourselves on having online store software that is so
easy to use that no training should be required. When delivering the
new store to our client we given them a run through all the site
features, explaining in detail how everything works, answer any
questions they have and leave them with a nice and simple 'How To'
guide so they can get stuck in. We also keep our contact details in plain view for the client when they use our system. If they should ever have a question they can easily send an email or phone us for instant assistance. We don't hide our contact information because we're not afraid of giving support when it's needed.
So how do you make a great online store? You focus on the end user experience! Just don't forget that you have two end users. Your client who will be managing the store in the admin area of the site and the customers to the site who will be using the front end. If you cut corners on the admin tools your client will not be confident in using the site and will be contacting you all the time for assistance. If you cut corners on the front end of the site then you will never help drive sales through the stores! It sounds so simple but it's amazing the number of products out there that get this wrong!
Of course this is only one side in making a great online store. Marketing plays a huge role in getting your store out there and driving sales to your site but this is a topic for another day!
I'd love to hear your stories about your experience with online stores below. If you know of any good stores let me know and if you know really bad ones then it's time to name and shame!!