How user friendly are e-commerce websites?

Today I searched for book on Flipkart.com and checked-out the same. The website asked me to provide my email address and mobile number. On providing both, the website displays message ” Enter verification code send to mobile number.” Without providing verification code, I cannot make purchase. Why to connect prior to first purchase?

As customer, I was interested to purchase book from flip-kart and I am okay to pay online also. I think that e-commerce website only needs to know items purchase by me, my address details to deliver item, and also need to ensure that credit card get processed successfully for payment. Why should I create account?

  • Should I provide customer’s email address and mobile number? Yes , e-commerce website wants email address and mobile number to send me invoice and reference number. As a customer, this reference number can help me to interact  with e-commerce website when there is complaint.
  • Should I, a customer see a need to create account? No. May be account is needed to ascertain whether cash-on delivery customer make prompt payments without fail in earlier orders of cash-on delivery. There may be easy ways to perform customer check without an account.
  • Do I want to create account? As a customer, my answer is No. First I want choice to evaluate the customer service of eCommerce website and if satisfied, then provide my credentials to open an account. May be I may never want to create account. Secondly creation of account expects me to remember password to sign-in to account. Mostly I forgot the password of the website and also find entering password on mobile is tricky.
  • Do I see other options provided? Yes.  Food ordering website like freshmenu.com that does not ask me to create an account. I can choose food items, make payment and order gets delivered. They send email about order and send email to collect feedback. Utilities website like BESCOM, BSNL Bangalore and insurance companies provide option to create new online account or make payments without creating an online account.

Some might point that eCommerce websites needs this information to provide personalized experience to user.One observes that all e-Commerce website provide experience where they throw up graphic after graphic of images of book covers and other items. Did they ever check whether I am interested or not interested in what they throw as display?

As customer, I know what I want to purchase. I go to eCommerce website to see whether item is available or not and make purchases. Similar to experience of visiting retail stores where one ask for item to buy and shop assistant provides the item, customer pays money and leave with the item. In physical retail shops, customers spend time browsing items on the store shelf to pass-time on waiting for the bill and complete payment. Why Browsing items, a time-pass drives primary design of e-commerce websites?

Browsing e-commerce websites, one observes a search box near the top of the home page. As customer I can search for the item that I am looking for or that I need. What is use of presenting me with a mass of images prior to me making my purchase. Why do e-commerce websites not allow me to focus on my purchase?

It is quite possible that users may want to browse as part of online shopping.Fair enough. Check with user or ask user in the home page for user’s interest to view product recommendation. For customer looking recommendation, display recommendation. For other users, do not dump all items or force them to see recommendations.

Currently the website design seems to be more influenced by what marketers want them to be, what technical folks want to include or perceptions of what people want and not what customer wants.