Ordering by Hashtag and Packages Falling From the Sky

The Future of E-commerceRetail strategies to snare the impulse buyer have been a major part of the shopping experience since forever and a recent pact between Twitter and Amazon is pushing impulse buys deeply into the virtual world of social media.

Imagine this scenario: You’re perusing your Twitter feed and you come across a sponsored tweet featuring a cool new pair of headphones. You gotta have ‘em but don’t have the time or energy to go through the drudgery of full-blown online shopping.

What’s a guy or gal to do?

Simple, merely reply to the tweet with the hashtag #AmazonCart and the item immediately goes into your shopping cart at Amazon.com. Later, perhaps after a quick two-shot iced-caramel-macchiato pick-me-up, you muster the strength to complete the checkout process. Finally—and within hours—a drone will drop your package from the sky. (BTW, I just made up that last part.)

Simply make shopping simple

Will this prove successful for either Amazon or (more importantly) Twitter? I don’t know, but I doubt that it will revolutionize the e-commerce world. However, it does re-emphasize an important concept if you depend on web sales in your business: Make the process as fast and seamless as possible.

If you do e-commerce, as Amazon and Twitter are hashing out the details of their hashtag buying scheme, take a little time to review the purchasing process on your website. To do this, your first step should be to analyze your competitors.

Go through every step of finding and evaluating products on your competitors’ sites and then test out their shopping cart and checkout systems. Do the same for your site. In fact, have friends go through your site and your competitors’ sites and give you an honest evaluation and comparison.

By aligning itself with Twitter, Amazon is again telling us how important it is to remove any barrier that stands between your shoppers and the final “make purchase” button. If Internet retailers can knock just a few percentage points off their abandoned shopping cart rate, the revenue (minus cost) goes straight to the bottom line; they’ve already consumed their share of the overhead.

Assess site navigation

Pay attention to navigation links and buttons. Are they always clear? Are they always located “above the fold”? Even today I find Internet retailers who make editing a shopping cart difficult, or make going back to do more shopping almost impossible, which brings us back to the subject of impulse buying.

Sometimes, as I’m getting ready to check out, I remember “one more thing” I could use. Often I can’t figure out how to get back, do another search, and add another item. If there’s no clear way to do it, I either throw in the towel and just checkout without the additional item or head to another site. The retailer loses money either way.

Keep an eye on the Twitter-Amazon experiment, but look even more closely at how you’re doing business.

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