Read these 5 Online Order Forms Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Shopping Cart tips and hundreds of other topics.
Online order forms take a small bit of technical knowledge and a fair bit of understanding about customers and usability. Many ecommerce software packages will allow non-technical people to be creating online order forms. Good manners are as important on the web as they are for a sales clerk making a sale in person. Be polite, don't ask nosy questions, offer as much help as you can without being intrusive. If a customer fills out your web site order form incorrectly, make sure your error messages are polite and informative. Don't just say "Wrong!" with no advice for the poor customer who made a mistake. Likewise, don't wipe out all the information they entered on your web page order form and make them re-enter everything from scratch. If you do, many customers will just leave your site and go elsewhere to buy.
Free online order forms can be a great starting point if you are just starting out. When you are creating online order forms, make sure you simplify it as much as possible. Make it easy for the customer to fill out and don't try to gather too much information at once. As soon as possible let the customer know about any shipping charges, taxes, and any other charges so they can keep an eye on their balance as they purchase more items. Make sure required fields are indicated somehow and try to help the customer avoid errors by making sure your field lables are clear. If the customer does make a mistake, make sure the error messagse are polite and indicate what needs to be done to fix the error. Keep your web site order form as clean as possible and don't put any other distracting elements like banner ads on the page. Some free online order forms don't understand these basic rules so you are wise to customize yours.
You're a step ahead by understanding that a web site order form is not the time to frustrate your customer by asking for any more information than necessary. As long as you're creating online order forms, use that knowledge you gained by creating feedback forms. Collect the information you want at some other time than during the sale, though. You can offer a feedback form after the sale to collect demographic information and ask how your web site order form performed. You can set up a newsletter and ask for demographic information during the signup process. You can set up surveys with a chance to win prizes or give all survey takers a coupon they can enter into the web page order form to get a discount on their next order.
Online order forms should be designed to minimize the risk of shopping cart abandonment. If people have gone through the process of putting items in their cart but then abandon them at the final step, you should review your web site order form. Your form should be as easy as possible for the customer to fill out. Your form should also provide clear progress indicators. Make sure your form clearly distinguishes between required and optional fields and offer drop-down choices where it makes sense rather than making the customer type in a lot of detail. Make the sale and then ask for more information. One optional field, perhaps asking how they found your store and offering multiple choice selections, is about all you should try to get at the time of the order. Send out an email after the order has been fulfilled and try to collect more information then.
First, thank your customers for taking the time to tell you that your web site order form needed some attention. Most people will just go tell other people about their poor experiences rather than the store owner. Revisit your online order form and see what improvements you can make based on their feedback. Was the process too long? Was the final price a surprise? Were not enough shipping options offered? After you've made the changes, let those customers know that you've improved the online order form. Monitor how many people abandon their shopping carts without completing the purchase and see if you can lessen that number with your changes. Add a site feedback form to make it even easier for visitors to communicate with you. Keep an open mind and remember that you may be too close to your site to see the flaws that are obvious to new visitors. Are they having trouble finding things? Rethink your web site navigation structure or add a site search option.