For the past few months, I’ve been on the lookout for a couple of Transformers figures that I wanted to add to my toy collection. I’ve been stopping by the Wal-Mart next to work a few times a week, since these particular releases are exclusively sold at that retail chain. Despite reports that these two toys were indeed released and showing up on store shelves, my hunt had turned up nothing. I was beginning to think this particular store had never received a shipment of these toys or, perhaps, they had sold out before I could find them. Or maybe something else was happening altogether?
A solid two months after I first began my search for these toys, I found them. When I did finally locate these two action figures, they were not where I expected them to be. They were not in the action figure aisle beside the other Transformers, nor were they on the front endcap of the aisle where new and exciting items (like exclusive releases only available at that store) are normally displayed. No, these toys were finally spotted four aisles away from the one typically dedicated to these types of toys, relegated to an endcap facing the back wall of the store. This is a spot normally reserved for castoffs and clearance items. Definitely not an ideal location for items you would think the store would want to drive customers to find, is it?
When Good Sites Go Bad
This shopping experience reminds me a lot of a recent conversation I had with a client of Envision’s. We have been working with this client for about a year, maintaining and updating a site that was designed by a previous company they had worked with. While the site itself wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t the right fit for their needs.
In strategy talks with our client, we identified their main business goals as well as their customers’ main needs when visiting the site. Unfortunately, both of those key needs had no presence on the homepage or any of the other typical entry pages for this particular site. They were there on the site, somewhere, but just like those Transformers toys that had been relegated to some forgotten back wall endcap, these key elements of the site were not where anyone expected them to be. Instead, they were hidden deep within the site, making them hard to find and easy to miss.
A Bad Experience Doesn’t Transform Into a Sale
I wonder how long those Transformers toys had sat on that lonely, back wall shelf as consumers, like myself, searched for them, only to leave the store empty-handed and frustrated.
In the end, I did not purchase those Transformers. By the time I found them, any excitement that I once had for the toys had been sapped by the months of fruitless searching and the money I had put aside for those toys has been spent elsewhere. The store didn’t get those items in my hands when I was ready to buy. I wonder how many of our client’s site visitors left, and how much potential business may have been lost, for similar reasons.
Because Everybody Loves a Happy Ending
Companies focus so much attention on search engine optimization and marketing as they try to find ways to drive users to their site. Focusing on what they see once they are there, however, is just as critical to success. If users are confused or can't find what they need (similar to how I could find the Transformers I wanted), they may just head to another site and find it elsewhere.
Want to make sure your site's visitors have a successful visit to your site? Figure out what they are looking for and make that information easy to find. That is one of the best ways to transform a website visitor into a website customer.