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The recession is an extra obstacle to shopping online. To stop it from being insurmountable, you need to make sure you remove all the other barriers you can.

Last summer I asked if the downturn was leading to greater use of e-commerce? The answer then was 'yes'. The answer is still “yes”, only maybe more so now...

Although the economy is showing some signs of recovery we are still in a recession and e-commerce is likely to help lead us out of it.  As Econsultancy recently wrote, consumer habits learned during the recession will change slowly (if at all), with consequent impacts on the marketing industry and consumer expectations for the web.  

Without a doubt over the past year people have changed their spending patterns. Savings are on the increase. Value brands are showing a big boom while most, though not all luxury brands are dipping. Even when you offer a quality product at a good discount, people are checking out other customer reviews and making price comparisons. 

As outlined in the paper Recession Proof Usability, the recession is best thought of as another usability barrier, just one that is difficult to remove. People’s lack of money and financial caution is a further barrier to them clicking on the “Add to Basket” button. 

This makes it all the more important to test and evaluate the usability of your sites. What is your customer’s experience of going to the checkout? Why would they or why wouldn’t they give over their most sensitive and private personal details. What unintentional traps have be laid on the path to making a sale.

Profit from removing purchase barriers

You can’t put a tenner into people’s pockets that they don’t have, even if you discount your price. But you can find out and fix ways in which you accidentally confuse your customers, or sap away their confidence in you as a trustworthy online retailer,  or fail to give them enough to emotionally attach to your product offering: to get them to what it enough. 

These and the mire of usability and accessibility pitfalls can be explored by the simple process of checking-out what you’ve created online with real customers, drawn from the demographic specifics of your target audience. They will tell you where you are going wrong and they will tell you how what they need to click to the “Order Now” button. All you have to do is ask the questions so your customers can help you, and in turn, you can help them to buy better.

Chris Rourke

Published 14 September, 2009 by Chris Rourke

Chris Rourke is Managing Director of User Vision and a contributor to Econsultancy.

23 more posts from this author

Comments (1)


Jonathan Hall

I agree that the recession is changing the way people shop online, even on a personal level I am thinking twice about making a purchase.

Some of the biggest wins we have made over the past 6 months is concentrating on product copy, making it compelling and detailed and also improving product images by adding additional images or/and improving the zoom. 

If you cna then couple this with customer reviews, as highlighted in the article, you are well on the way to giving customers the info and confidence they need to make a purchase. 

It is also worthwhile investing some time in creating targetted landing pages which support and emphasise your marketing channels. 


about 7 years ago

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