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Online retailers: if you can’t get me now, when will you?

In the past 6 weeks I have bought a load of things online including printer cartridges (for the kids’ schoolwork), a large picture frame, cheese (of course), wine (of course), coloured paper, postcards and some 6 packs of shoelaces. 

All of which I would normally buy from the high street. 

Thing is, whilst some of those experiences have been okay, none have been outstanding. And certainly none made me think that I will continue with these types of transactions after I can go back to the shops in person. 

Take shoelaces… a niche area I admit. I thought I’d take this opportunity to get a load of shoelaces for my trainers and formal shoes. A simple task, one would think. Alas no. The amount of UX problems I encountered were huge. 

I went to 6 different websites.

Did you know when you buy shoelaces you need to select by length, width, round or flat, colour, style/material/colour of aglet? (I should’ve known there was a name for the ends of shoelaces.).

The UX of many of these sites was average at best. Do you really need to write ‘very very long laces’ when you have already listed the length? And when you can’t pick up and see the product you’re buying for yourself, images are very important. White space is good for designers, but not necessarily for buyers.

I left 3 sites with abandoned carts because I constantly found stock shortages. I never thought there would be a run on laces – of the exact same type I needed. Oh, and thanks for making me go through the entire purchasing funnel only to tell me at the end you have none in stock.

Some sites I abandoned because it was like looking for a shoelace in a tub of baby eels. The navigation was atrocious. And I couldn’t locate what I needed.  Amazon may be good at lots of things – selling shoelaces is absolutely not one of them. 

My point is this: people who sell anything online, especially those who *only* sell online, need to invest more in their execution. 

It’s embarrassing how bad some of these experiences were. 

And it’s not just about A/B testing. Clicks do not reveal the C for confusion or the D for disappointment.

You need to watch how people use your sites. For real. Watch them in the moment of use. Not in controlled environments, without the kids running round, or the TV on, and the shout from downstairs that you should be out mowing the lawn.  

Watching me buying shoelaces (seeing me and my screen at the same time) would have been eye opening for anyone. Observe my behaviour and see what I do. Not what I’m being told to do by a moderator. Do this and you will understand more of what needs to be fixed, where my pain points lie, more than with any other method. 

It’s something we offer, but it’s even clearer to me now that we don’t do enough of it. 

P.S. If you do want to buy shoelaces try Feet Unique in the UK. They were good, and they got my money.