Examining the e-commerce purchase process

by Ben Myers

I’m coming up on six months as a web analyst here at Napkyn (hold your applause), and I’ve spent much of my time here studying the sales process. I’ve read a couple books and spent many hours conversing with Jim about how and why people buy. It’s a truly fascinating subject – worthy of the millions of words printed on the subject each year.

Now, when I’m faced with making a purchase, either online or in-store, I’m a bit self-conscious about the whole thing. I need a new external hard drive for my laptop, so I began checking prices online.

I consulted three  computer parts stores online:

Newegg.ca, pccyber.com, bestbuy.ca

And on my way to the grocery store, I checked out a small computer store. I saw a decent price, but for some reason, the clerk ignored me in favour of setting up some kids with Starcraft stations for $4.99 an hour. Not a smart move.

I also had two buying options to research:

  • External harddrive with casing installed (about $105-$139)
  • Internal harddrive, then buy casing separately and install myself ($69 + $18)

I also have a few concerns that need addressing before I buy:

  • Best value for space scenario; can I get twice the space for 1.5x the money?
  • Cost saving worth the effort of attempting to install myself?
  • PC and Mac compatibility – will this HD work with both?

I still haven’t made up my mind about what purchasing scenario I will go with because all my questions have not been answered.

How does this apply to e-commerce sales? Well, just look at all the research that is done to make a moderately important $100 purchase. Ask yourself: Can your e-commerce website provide the information to assure a customer that they’re making the right decision?

I’ve thrown a whole bunch of obstacles into the purchase path – concerns about price and compatibility, and competition. Does your website help knock down these obstacles for the average visitor?

When a store (or salesman, for that matter) has successfully knocked down all the obstacles in the path of a potential buyer, a sale is much more likely to occur.

Me? I’m heading down to another store tonight to hopefully buy my hard drive. I’m bringing my money, and my concerns, with me.

Ben Myers


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