Catalogers, Are You Making These Big eCommerce Mistakes?

[responsive]catalog-website[/responsive]We see it a lot: A company puts out a great catalog, then seriously drops the ball making the connection between the mailed piece and the ecommerce process at their website. It’s frustrating and costly, and can be avoided if you pay attention to a few key principles.

Amy Africa offers a good explanation of these common mistakes, and how to rectify them on your site. (And she promises more of these ideas in coming posts, so we’ll keep an eye on this for you.)

1. Don’t underestimate the value of direct traffic.

“The people who know you – the ones who are typing in your company name or branded keywords – are more valuable than the ones who aren’t.  Period.”

Africa suggests putting these folks in their own bucket, and carefully observing their behaviors and trends. You may find you need to put in a function for easy item number searches, order history, or obvious 800 numbers for quick phone orders. These people are actively going to you for a purpose; make sure you know why and can deliver what they need without frustration.

2. Don’t necessarily base your navigation around your catalog structure.

“Users don’t want to search for anything.  THEY WANT TO FIND SOMETHING.  I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again, navigation (including your text search function) is one of THE biggest determinants of your online success,” Africa stresses.

“In usability, you find that unless users know precisely what they are searching for and/or are sophisticated users, they’ll try using the navigation first ESPECIALLY if they are browsing/shopping or have had a bad experience with your search function or any of the half dozen or so they’ve used before it,” Africa notes. Your website may need a clearer, more obvious structure than a printed catalog, which can be easily thumbed at a glance.

By understanding the pitfalls, you can make it easier to leverage your traction and make that catalog pay off in spades.