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Take Charge of Your Pet Site Operations Online and Off

Aug 13, 2008
In these days of internet marketing, instant gratification is often the name of the game. For example, people not only care about finding the best price, they want it immediately, usually via online downloading of files or other data.

But snags can disrupt this process with the best of automation, even with web giants like Paypal, Amazon and Elance. What happens is that a shopper may go to log in, and the site is temporarily down or under construction. Results are generally that the shopper returns later, abandoning the cart - and sale.

What happens with smaller companies, like mom-and-pop-owned pet websites though, is that people through tantrums. They forget - or ignore - the fact that real people & their systems are the keys to their online experience. So if an order isn't fulfilled, if they cannot complete transactions, find what they need instantly like designer dog beds or something, and they maybe turn to you for help or complain or take other negative action.

Shopper Joe Complains to the Better Business Bureau

For instance, let's say shopper Joe tried to purchase some organic dog food and some dog treat jars but the shopping cart Paypal button wouldn't work right because Paypal was having technical difficulties (your site was fine). Shopper Joe may complain via an email, but you don't even read it for 24 hours because this person shopped on a Sunday, your day off, and you don't log in until Monday.

In the meantime, he has done a charge back because the order did come through on his Paypal account, yet he received no confirmation, no sales receipt, nothing, so he didn't trust your online store - or you. And he complained to the Better Business Bureau.


Time out!

Slow down that horse cart, please, with the following tips.

Take Charge Tips

Whether you market online or off, make sure your physical store and online store carry your hours of operation, store policies and support information. You want to alert shoppers to these facts:

1) Your hours of operation, even online. Yes, you may have a 24/7 presence, but phone and other live help is not available outside your Monday - Friday 9 AM - 5 PM EST hours. Plus emails and support tickets require 24 business hours for a reply.

2) Make sure to state your complete contact info online plus in print promotions where applicable, like with coupons. Don't leave people scared, holding only a P.O. Box address and no other means to reach out for help. Give them phone numbers, a street address for postal mailing, a support desk with FAQs - your most frequently asked questions answered and other helpful info.

Let them know that if they do run into online check out issues, you'll happily send them a bonus for all their effort and patience. Then send them a percentage off coupon for their next purchase, or a freebie (like free bag of pet treats) or something.

3) Set up as much automation and other online systems as you can to be pro-active, and test all of them regularly. For example, set up a Thank You page that takes your shoppers to a free gift: a download link to a pet recipe ebook.

Similarly, set up an autoresponder that emails the same message, sending your shoppers to that page for their free gift, so you cover more than one base.

And in your FAQs, let people know they receive a free gift with their purchase, and to contact you info on it does not reach them, covering yet a 3rd base.

Plus add a colorful button or banner to your promotions inviting shoppers to buy and get their free gift, covering yet one more base in your operations.
About the Author
For more information recommended by Kelly Marshall, see these recent articles on Agility Training and Rottweilers and All About Vitamins & Minerals For Your Dog.
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