Two's a Queue

Retail, eCommerce, usability, customer experience, service, technology...

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A Serious Post About Payment

When I started this blog my very good friend and ex colleague Abi said to me “It’s good but…have you plans to make it less…funny?”…I took that as a compliment at the time.

In theory this blog WAS supposed to be serious from the start but for some reason it’s veered towards the funny/critical (how did that happen? Not like me at ALL!).  Anyway, near year new me and all that.  Cue “A Serious Post About Payment”.

When designing a checkout flow payment page is a funny beast – sometimes you can feel like you’re leading your customer through a lovely pleasant fairy-tale of ‘just browsing’ - a heady, lighthearted experience - and then they hit the payment page and all of a sudden they’re in the wicked witches clutches devoid of power , confused and disappointed. It’s a let-down which results in one of a few outcomes – you panic and run away (drop out), carry on through the pain and end up feeling slightly scarred by the experience (convert with difficulty) or you attempt to get through and end up getting turned to stone by some repeating error message or problem you just can’t get past (drop out without wanting to). Enough with the analogies – often people get checkout design wrong – and the payment page can be the epitome of the big bad wolf in a bad checkout (ENOUGH!)

Ok so in order to design a payment page (I'm calling it a page but it could easily be a form-  one page checkouts are more and more common now) where do you start?

Let's take that form as an example. Entering card details.

For me it’s first and foremost about the customer – the context of what you’re doing. What’s the driver here? Well in most cases the customer just wants to pay, - they’ll be thinking about their order and the items they’re buying and they’ll be focused on getting to the end. Some will be at work and trying to enter their card details quickly to get out of the boss’ siteline, others will be at home with phones ringing, doorbells going and kids interrupting. Some customers will want to feel reassured throughout that they’re in a secure environment, others won’t be so concerned. Woah that’s a lot of drivers. If you look at all this in isolation it looks scary-  and when things look scary the way through the wicked witches woods’ is to go SIMPLE, CLEAN and ORGANISED.

OK so the first thing I do when faced with this challenge is write down everything that needs to be on the page (or if you’re that type enter everything which could be on the page and then cross a load of stuff out). For payment forms this is usually universally the following:
Card type
Cardholder name
Card number
Expiry date
Start date
CVV/CV2/Security number
Issue Number
Security logos
Payment type logos

After crossing out the things you don’t need – or adding additional things you need for your site (card nickname if you like, a save card for later checkbox if you offer it). Then the next task is to order them into some kind of hierarchy.  I’d favour something like:

I always like to see the card number first – purely anecdotal evidence suggests to me that when entering a card customers find that they stumble here as they always want to enter their card number first so they end up with an error. I think it’s because you don’t know your long 16 digit number off by heart so you’re more likely to want to just get it onto the page before anything else. I could be wrong. So I’d end up with something like this:

Hmm but wait – something is wrong here. The types of information you’re asking a customer to enter are going to change depending on what that piece of information is.  We also have to think about our interface requirements with a PSP – they need certain information in a certain structure. So let’s restrict the format the customer can enter that information in. Let’s also make sure it’s easy for the customer to see what that format is. For a start date or expiry date we know the boundaries of what the customer will enter for example the customer sees MM/YY on their card, we should attempt to replicate that here.

Ok so next thing that’s bothering me is that the two fields at the bottom represent very shirt pieces of information. Issue number is usually a single or double digit, and the security code is 3 digits (4 for AMEX), so let’s create that expectation for the user and shorten up those fields.

But wait – Issue number and start date? I don’t have those on my cards? That’s because these are only requirements for certain types of cards (Maestro), so let’s not show them when the customer doesn’t need them.  To do this we need to know what type or card the customer is entering up front, You can do this in a number of ways, either with radio buttons and images of card types, with a dropdown – ideally I’d like it to be transparent to the user (they don’t care what the card type is) so it could detect from the number they enter into the field. Let’s for now make it a dropdown. And let’s make it clear when the information is needed.
For a non-Maestro customer here’s what I have now.

I think I could improve on the descriptive-ness of my field labels. They’re a bit techie. Let’s make sure the customer knows exactly what they should enter into the field.
Some fields may need more explanation so I’ll add some tooltips

That enter text’ is annoying isn’t it? Let’s make it useful. 

I’m quite happy with that. As discussed above customers can find security a problem when paying online so a bit of reassurance of trust logos, card schemes etc. won’t go amiss here and depending on where you add your payment types accepted (basket page is useful)  - it’s worth re-iterating again here, especially if you do/don’t take AMEX or any international card types.

This might seem incredibly simple -  and the result is pretty simple. But it’s clear from just a few minutes browsing the web that a lot of sites aren’t following the basics when dealing with transactions online.  Pret a Manger’s online top up for their Pret Card is pretty hideous- they don’t seem to know what to call things so have gone with the ‘/’ approach (FYI Pret you can just call it a ‘card’  - customers get it!). The Maestro information is shown for everyone and the expiry date is hidden to the bottom – with some badly pixelated non transparent 3D Secure scheme logos (this is how I discovered this issue – by constantly failing to fill in the expiry date and thus failing to pay)

This is from Kurt Geiger-  better isn’t it?

Lovely, clean, simple and ordered.  My favourite type of form.
Now I have my basic form I’d start looking at validation and error messages next..but that’s too much serious for one week so you’ll have to hang on for that one until next time.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Spotted #2

Random series on pet ecom hates. Episode 2.

Oh ASOS - how sometimes I get jealous of your amazingness and then other times I think - just why.

Just why would your system KNOW I qualify for a promotion but make me add it manually. The technical effort involved in letting me know about the code surely outweighs just getting it to add automatically?

And why can I only have one promo at a time? Just because I used a 20% off means I now can't have free delivery even though the total of my order is still over the threshold of £100?

ASOS often I love you. Often you just let me down.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Excellent Errors #3

Ah OK I nicked this off one of the developers at work. And yeah so it's not ecommerce. Still like it though.

It's from Blizzard at

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The final mile or how to choose a delivery partner - part 1

This post could be my shortest ever at three words "don't chose Yodel". I nearly just left it at that because I'm still in a grump about my missing Dyson (long rant - really you don't want to hear it), but in reality it probably wouldn't be fair if I did.

I certainly wouldn't be the only one writing that. Type 'Yodel' into Google and you'll be treated to a number of frustrated bloggers (here), twitterers (here), disappointed Amazon customers (here), and forum contributors (here). What's interesting about current coverage is that for one of the first times the delivery company is seen to be failing the retailer as well as the customer. People just don't moan and complain about carriers now, they petition the retailer to stop using them.

So I'm *successful online retailer of your choice*, I'm fed up with getting customer complaints, my customer service team is drowning in queries, my retention rate is falling, I'm losing sales (did I mention the Dyson?). I know I need to do something- what do I do? Change carrier?

Well to be fair to Yodel if you type any carrier name into Google you'll find frustrated anecdotes from customers who've had items left in bins, not turn up, turn up at 3am (yes this did happen)...this isn't something which is about a single carrier - it's about an outdated industry which needs to change with the times. I won't repeat it but Tom from Shutl sums this up brilliantly when saying that the internet has changed hugely since it's inception but delivery.....still the same.

Anyone who knows me knows a) I'm a logistics geek and b) I went through a long and painful vendor selection at the start of last year for delivery partners. Having seen every possible carrier I think I now understand the signs of a bad delivery partner and help you avoid getting this petition on your doorstep. Next time - my tips on how to choose a delivery partner...

Friday, 13 January 2012

Zen and the art of recruitment #2

Oh dear two more hideous examples from cold callers  - I can't just blame recruiters though, I think at least one of these was a consultancy/vendor.Avoid these like the plague-  I am

The yuppy recruiter

"Hi H, here's a job you probably don't want, what number can I reach you on?" - it's aggressive, it's pushy, it's not cool and BTW it's not 1985.

The sneak

STALKER: "Hi I need to speak to H please"
SWITCHBOARD: "Oh sorry no you're stalker and we don't use those here"
STALKER "Oh no we spoke earlier in the week and she said this was a better time to call"  - oh you're a) a liar b) overly pushy and c) never going to get the chance to speak to me again

This could end up being a regular series.....Happy Friday!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

One single brand..or not

I posted a quick off the cuff comment a few weeks ago about one of my pet hates  - essentially when companies see their web presence and their web store as two different things. Breaking news - your website is your store, is your brand, is where your customers go for information about you, where they go to buy, where they go to complain. Oh dear - someone doesn't realise this:

Dear Ms 2AQ,

Thank you for contacting us at X Cosmetics.
unfortunately, we cannot assist you, as we provide customer service for our website only.
One of our aims at X Cosmetics is to provide a convenient and efficient service. and we sincerely apologise that on this occasion, we were not able to fulfil this expectation.
I will certainly pass this feedback on alternatively you are welcome to write to the X Cosmetics Head Office with your complaint:
X Cosmetics, Ltd
Greenwood House,
New London Road
Chelmsford, Essex CM2 OPP
United Kingdom.
We hope that you will give us another opportunity to prove the quality of our service to you.
Thank you for shopping at yada yada

Wake up peeps   - your concessions, your store, your website, your staff, your facebook pages-  they're all the representations of your brand and customers will access your brand how they wish to do so and in the way that is most convenient for them and in this environment you can bet that that just happens to be online. And if that fails to get through it's worth remembering that I had a complaint to begin with-  now I have two.....

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Zen and the art of recruitment.

(Somewhat off piste from the usual I know but it is the new year. Be grateful you weren't subjected to a  rundown of my 100 favourite blogs/shoes/gin and tonics of 2011)

Ah recruiters. my post holiday inbox is full of your invites on LinkedIn, your emails and your phone messages (nice trick the one who phoned reception and pretended they KNEW me). *sigh* 
Some tips.

I need to know the name of the retailer/company
blahblahnoise company doesn't want to reveal itself, blahblahnoise I can't tell you unless I discuss in person, blahblahnoise I need to know if you want to apply before I tell you, blahblahnoise I'm going to refer to 'a large multi channel grocery retailer whose online operations are based in Welwyn Garden City' secret code. If I don't know who it is I won't know if I want to apply. Coming from a top tier consultancy I have some great names on my CV and I don't need to especially stick to the big players but admiration for a company is a big factor.  I'm someone for whom strategic vision is everything so I need to know what the company is, what their plan is and where they're going.  So quit your mind games and just tell me.

Never ask if I know someone for the role:
a) I'm not doing your job for you and nor is my LinkedIn network
b) Surely you thought of me for the role because I'm uniquely awesome? No? Just spamming then.

My background is really varied yet people insist on offering the same roles which don't really fit who I am or what I do. It's so obvious they've just searched for a keyword which has popped up in my profile.

Similarly after I joined my current company last December I got about ten emails in the first month-  clearly I've just moved jobs, likelihood is I'm not looking for a change quite so fast!

Be genuine
Ok so partly this is a rant about my inbox and partly it's because I'm doing a whole load of recruitment at the moment. I'm learning a lot about it and what it's taken me about two months and about 200 failed CV's to realise is that I'm a lot better at it than recruiters we pay to do it. For a start I don't charge my company a gazzion pound fee (or any fee...hang on.....that needs to change....) but no, the key to good recruitment (in ecommerce, in retail.... in anything) is sincerity. Genuinely building a relationship with a candidate who you know will be honest with you and who you can be honest with is the way forward. For those who make this their career this means playing the long game I'm sure, for me it's stalking (ahem) developers where they like to hang out rather than waiting for them to come to me.

Ah you see - you thought it was going to be a rant but no, there was a moral in the end.