Should Your E-Commerce Website have a Membership?

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It’s a difficult one. On the one hand you want to collect email addresses for a mailing list (always giving your customer an opt-out clause) allowing you to send special offers, promotions etc. However there is evidence to suggest that the more screens that you send your customers to the less likely it is that they will buy. How often have you been frustrated by a retail website that insists on your registering with it even before they will check the stock for you?

At the most extreme case, one catalogue website insisted that they had the item in stock all the way to the checkout at which point it refused to process the sale because the item was out of stock in that particular colour. In itself that was annoying: I had registered purely to buy the item in question. However the icing on the cake was when the bills arrived! I had three or four bills, each announcing that I owed them precisely nothing! What a waste of paper! It has so put me off the website that I am most likely never to buy anything from them ever. However I remain a registered customer. At least I could unsubscribe from the emails.

This experience has put me off registering for websites and I am far more likely to buy from a website that allows me to buy as a ‘guest’ rather than a member. The majority of people have not had my bad experiences, though and if it is the only way that your customers can receive your goods or services then of course they are going to join.

You still need to examine your landing copy carefully and monitor the statistics from your website. If the landing page is not successfully converting visitors at a high enough level then you might need to tweak it so that it works more successfully. The thing to note is that you are unlikely to get it right straight away. The important thing is not to give up.

Some websites split test. They set up two landing pages and send traffic to each. They then monitor the results and go with the more successful page. If this is important to you, then this is a route that you may want to take.

It is not just the ad that is important, but the page on which the ad directs the customer. Make sure that the E-commerce side is simple for a user to navigate – a shopping basket which is visible and shows the contents, a list of items in the shopping basket and a big ‘Checkout’ button all help your customer to buy easily from you. Make postage and packing charges clear and transparent. Make sure that your customer can get all the information they need from the first page and ensure that any product photos are not only clear and easy to see, but include an enlarge option and even a 360° view if you are feeling extra techie.

Collect reviews from your customers, family and friends, find out what works and implement it – these are the key ingredients for a successful E-commerce website.


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