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Chapter 4. Transactors > Allow Users to Transact Any Which Way They Can

Allow Users to Transact Any Which Way They Can


Let your customers do business with you through whatever method they prefer.

A transaction is a transaction is a transaction, so however you can get one, take it. Just because users are accessing your web site, it doesn’t mean they should only be able to transact online. Although you might prefer online transactions to minimize costs, if you don’t display alternative transaction options, you might lose the sale altogether. Focus your efforts on converting users to becoming customers through whatever their preferred medium is, and then as they trust you more, you can focus on migrating them online.

One site that really embraces this concept is Motorola’s. If you take a look at one of the site’s product pages, you’ll see that it provides multiple options for making a purchase: online, by telephone, or in a store. The implicit statement here is, “You can buy this product however you want to.” If users are uncomfortable with purchasing online, they can call in the order. If users want the product immediately, they can locate the nearest store to pick it up. In any case, Motorola is more likely to cater to more users because of the various transaction channels presented to users.

Motorola’s call-to-action area enables its users to buy through their preferred channel. www.motorola.com

Of course, creating a site that caters to different people and the ways in which they might be most comfortable making transactions takes a solid understanding of all the different possibilities. The following sections spotlight the different ways in which your users might want to conduct business with you.

Product-Based Transactions

Let’s expand on how you can allow users to buy products through a web site:

  • Buy it online. Okay, so this one is obvious, but the section wouldn’t be complete unless it was mentioned. Buying online usually takes the form of adding items to a shopping cart and then going through a checkout process that specifies delivery and payment options.

  • Shop at a store. For those of you who have a physical presence, a simple way to get users to shop at their local store is to provide a store finder within the call-to-action area, much like Motorola has done. Simply ask your users for their zip or postal code and provide them with the addresses, phone numbers, hours, directions, and maps for the nearest locations.

    The Canadian version of the Radio Shack site takes store location one step further with an interesting function on every product page called “Find It In Store.” When users click on this link, it opens a product locator window that will help them find the store locations that have the item they’re looking for in stock. This is an innovative way to help users find the right location to make a purchase.

    Radio Shack’s Canadian site includes a product locator to help users find store locations that have a particular product in stock. www.radioshack.ca

  • Store pickup. A step beyond what Radio Shack does is to allow for store pickup. PartsAmerica does this by indicating which products can be picked up at a local store. When users check out, they can either have products delivered or specify a store location for pickup based on entering their zip or postal code. Think of it as e-commerce take out.

    At the PartsAmerica site, users can choose from which store location to pick up their items. Will that part be for here or to go? www.partsamerica.com

  • Call in the order. Believe it or not, the phone is still a viable medium to receive orders. In your call-to-action area, include your phone number (with area code) and the hours (with time zone) during which you accept phone orders. To facilitate the phone order, use a unique product code (such as a catalog number and SKU) to help your users to specify the correct product.

Different Ways to Pay

Payment is the last thing you should ask your users for when they check out. When you ask for payment, you need to provide your users with as many options as possible. At the moment, the default payment method for the Internet is the credit card, but this doesn’t work for everyone. Many users are still leery of credit-card fraud, and if your site is meant for teenagers, for example, they probably don’t have a credit card.

Other options for payment include checks or money orders (you process the order after the check or money order arrives, but make sure your users understand that this will take longer) or alternative solutions such as Rocket Cash <www.rocketcash.com>. In the latter, you deposit money into an account from which you can then make payments.

One final option is to allow for payment on delivery. Grocery Gateway <www.grocerygateway.com> delivers your groceries to your door, and at that point you can provide your credit or debit card to pay for your order.

Show Your Payment Options

In the design of your home page, you should consider identifying which payment options you accept. It’s kind of like the stickers with the MasterCard or Visa logo that are displayed at the front of a store. This helps you avoid the situation in which your users go all the way through your transaction process, only to find out that they cannot pay you.

Service-Based Transactions

If you’re a service-based company or your product requires a more consultative sales approach, your main call to action is to have the customer contact you. Here are some different ways in which your users should be able to transact or request your services:

  • Send an email. This is the simplest and most obvious way for your users to contact you. Make sure you set expectations up front in terms of your response time and clarify that any confidential information shouldn’t be sent via email because it is not secure. Provide alternate email addresses for different types of service requests; this will make it easier for you to track and manage the emails.

  • Submit a contact form. One step up from email is the contact form. This is an online form in which users can fill out their inquiry and contact information. The advantage of contact forms over email is that you can specify what information users are required to provide.

    At a basic level, you should ask users to submit a message and to specify how they want to be contacted (either via a phone number or email). If you frequently get inquiries of a certain type, such as customer complaints or sales inquiries, you might consider having additional, specialized contact forms that ask additional questions to resolve the inquiry more efficiently. The caveat, however, is to make sure you don’t combine these specialized forms with your general inquiries, so that users can just send in a message by itself if they want to.

  • Make a call. Again, the old-fashioned telephone works just fine. Don’t forget to state your office hours and your area code. Your phone number should be featured on every contact page in case your users prefer not to use an online form or want an immediate response.

  • Schedule an appointment. Many sites feature an online appointment request form. The only problem with this approach is that you might have to play email ping-pong to confirm appointment times with your customers. If you do have such an online form, make sure you ask for a phone number; it will be faster and less frustrating for you to call the customer back to negotiate a time.

A more progressive approach, however, is to display your available schedule online and then have users pick an available time slot. The Royal Touch site provides its users with the capability to view its massage therapists’ schedules and to book an appointment during an open time.

The Royal Touch’s web site displays its massage therapists’ schedules so that customers can schedule appointments without playing email ping-pong. www.theroyaltouch.com

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