Customer Retention and Ease of Purchase


One of the most confusing things about any internet business that sells products is when you run across one that doesn’t seem to want to take your money. Don’t they want you to buy what they are selling? The remembered frustration of having to navigate a treacherous digital labyrinth simply to have the Minos-like corporate ruler of the byte-maze deduct a few hard-earned dollars from your virtual wallet is a great obstacle to going back to buy again. No matter how much you want the product in question, finding your way through the online corridors of the purchasing puzzle is sure to make you want to give up and go somewhere else. Any company that operates in this manner would seem assured to fail before long if they remain static. When this seems so obvious, why do so many businesses have such Gordian knots of e-transactions?

There are many answers, from lack of experience with website design to a simple lack of interest, perhaps for a business which primarily conducts sales offline. However, the most common answer is likely that these obstacles are erected in the name of security. So many bits of information are asked of you; age, credit card number, blood type. Much of this data is requested to prevent your transactions from being hijacked by the less savory denizens of the internet, the much-feared and maligned hackers. One wonders why the best method yet discovered for the protection of information is its revelation, but it seems to work fairly well. Mostly. Or perhaps their are other reasons for building a wall between the consumer’s money and the company’s wallet… Everyone has heard the stories of children who, upon discovering the seemingly magical properties and powers of the credit card, have taken it upon themselves to secure copious quantities of various things, whether it be a lifetime supply of chocolate or a hoard of virtual currency in a mobile game.

The best online business models tend to strike a balance between these extremes: on the one hand, the constrictive and jungle-like security model, which protects the customer but also drives them away; and on the other hand, the loose, open method favored by people who like to have things stolen. One excellent example of this is Amazon and their much-touted One-Click Purchasing. When you go the Amazon, you don’t simply click the “buy” button and have the money paid by a random credit card. Rather, you go through the process of logging your chosen card and information once, then thereafter can shop at your leisure. Even when not using this method, (after all, an irresponsible toddler with a sweet tooth is just as capable of clicking a button as an adult,)  It is much simpler to buy from Amazon than from other e-stores. You simply pick a payment form and you’re off.

Whatever the case, a business attempting to disperse its stock over the web is best off finding a method of payment which will encourage its customers that they do not, in fact, show videos of people screaming at computers in their board meetings, but instead professionally, securely, and rapidly transacts with them with the goal of mutual satisfaction. The best way to retain your customers is to convince them that they are valued as members of a deal which betters both parties, rather than as a piñata of sorts, which dispenses money and frustration rather than candy. After all, if you don’t convince your customers that they are your priority, they will disappear faster than Grove City College students when they hear “chapel dismissed.”