One of the biggest mistakes that most online retailers make is they do not take into account typical buyer behavior. The conversion from real world to online provides many benefits to the retailer, but present some real challenges for the customer because their buying decision is made more difficult in an online environment. This means having a website needs to be more than having just an online catalog.


What do I mean? Let’s take the example of a recent client of mine who sells sterling silver jewelry.

Their site that was well-structured; the items pages were neatly laid out, images were clear, add to cart button clearly visible and there was a short description of the item. There was a page with a 14-day money-back guarantee, and a privacy page saying your details would be kept secure. But still, sales were slow.

What was missing? What could be done to encourage visitors to purchase?

The answer is we need to stop and think about buyer behavior. Let’s think about the buying process when we are in a physical store.

If the salesperson handed you a card with a picture and a short description of the item, would you buy it? What if they went one step further – even let you look at the item through the glass countertop. Would you buy it? Already we are providing more than the average website, but I bet you still have not said yes to buying.

What are the steps that we follow in our purchase decision process? First, we would ask to hold the item. Even without asking the salesperson a question, we will be making evaluations based on the weight and feel of the item. Does the clasp look strong? If there are any gems, does the setting look well secured? How does it look against the skin (fair, olive dark complexions)? These are just some subconscious questions we ask and answer during our appraisal, as we turn the item, hold it up against our skin, or place on a finger.

If the answers are not instantly evident, we ask the salesperson, who also provides encouraging comments about the item and your good choice.

So how does this translate to a website?

Simply by addressing the natural flow of consumer assessment onto your website.

Here are some basic steps you need to take:

Enhance your product descriptions; don’t expect the image to sell the item for you. Describe how the item feels, smells, its weight. Are all items the highest grade?

Make the best use of images. If people try it on (jewelry, clothing, etc) as part of the normal appraisal process, how can you best meet that need online? Do you need pictures of the necklace being worn on different skin types, or if clothing how does it look on different complexions and hair colors?

Tell people how they will feel by owning this item – that they will look a million dollars in that dress, they will attract admiring glances, that it will enhance off the color of their eyes – all designed to reassure the customer that they are making the right choice.


Make the returns’ policy statement with each item. Include it in the text perhaps like; we are so confident that you will be delighted with this “product name” that if you are not 100% satisfied, return within XX days for a full no questions asked refund.

Implement these steps and you will see your sales rates increase.

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