Selling Online: 5 Things Every Online Business Needs To Address

Everybody’s worst nightmare has to be the day your online purchase goes terribly wrong.

Generally you can use the amount of detail that’s gone into the website design to make an assumption of whether the company is legit or not.

I recently was left dumb-struck at the lack of customer service I received from an online store:

Earth Products is a company that sources mostly dried produce which is not necessarily organic but the best quality from farmers who use best practices in their farming methods.

This is what they say on their website : “We bring you fresh, natural and healthy food of clean integrity that is not copyrighted or factory farmed. We know the farmer and with a joyous endorphin lift we provide with less miles local plant diversity to build food safety and power in this land of Africa for the times to come. We endorse certified organic, savage organic and peer-reviewed natural farming practices and are the opposite paradigm to deceitful whitewashing food profiteering. We then share the gift of real food (!)building strength, intelligence, respect, potential and manifestation(!). If we won’t eat it, we won’t sell it – this is EARTH PRODUCTS!”

Unfortunately, I was left feeling unrespected AND left with a sour taste in my mouth. It’s great that you can do all of this as a company but if you cannot provide good customer service, treating your customer with respect at all times and doing your best to be professional at all times then I’m not going to ever come back to buy from you again.

Here’s how they should have done things, and how you should, too:

1 – Explicitly state your shipping methods all over your site (and especially on your products page).

While I was looking through the products on the Earth Products website I saw that they offered free shipping on orders over R300; they didn’t state that free shipping meant going to fetch your goods from your local post office! I’ll admit it was wrong of me to assume that they were going to “ship” my order to my door and that I should have read the shipping fine print, but they should have stipulated that they ship their goods via post without me having to navigate to another page to find that out.

2 – Keep in contact with your customer after they’ve given you their money.

They gave me no indication that they had received my proof of payment or my actual payment. I had to call them to find out if they had!

I placed my order online via the Earth Products website on the 21st. I called them on the 26th because I still hadn’t heard from them.

3 – Have a proper system in place that doesn’t display products that are sold out as available.

Lo and behold I received a call from Earth Products the same day to tell me that something I had ordered which showed as available when I made purchase, actually wasn’t. They already had my money. So she basically said here’s a list of things you can take instead of that. I had planned my purchase because of the extra expense it incurred on me and now I was basically forced to change it on the spur of the moment.

4 – Don’t try to force a sale on a customer at any time!

I kept telling her that I didn’t want to buy something that I didn’t need so she continued to read out things I could replace it with. At one stage the Earth Products sales lady tried to sell me one of the other products I had already purchased, saying that the kids will enjoy it.

5 – “The customer is always right” applies to your online store as well.

So I emailed the management when I had to call again for the second time on the 4th (yesterday – bear in mind the Earth Products website says orders should take up to a week to arrive) to find out where my goods were.  I was told to check via my tracking number (which I hadn’t received!) and I then realized that it was not being couriered (my bad).

I specifically asked for a refund in my email to management of Earth Products, but this was not addressed at all. (I was really stressed out about having to find a way to get to the post office because I don’t have a car. Im also in a new city and I couldn’t imagine which post office my parcel would be found at. Yes, I freaked out and was not thinking straight!) Instead, she passed blame onto me and her staff, even sending me the email warning she had sent to the staff member who had failed to send me my tracking number.

So now I have guilt added to the emotions I felt yesterday. Thank you Earth Products. My Earth Products journey ended right then and there. I was upset, angry and in complete shock. My worst nightmare of an online transaction gone sour has happened, and will probably happen to all of us at some point. It’s the responsibility of every online store owner to make sure purchases done via their stores are stress-free for their customers.

I hope this list of points is helpful to any of you who already have an online store, are planning on starting one soon,  or are just selling online via Facebook or Instagram.

Keep your customers clued up on your practices and keep them up to date on what’s going on, make them feel important and don’t ever make it just about the money! Do this and you’ll be sure to have secured a customer for life.

And customers who are happy generally bring with them even more happy customers. 😊

Updated post:

So I sent my hubby to fetch my goods from the post office… Here’s what I received for R301,28:

It’s what I had ordered. But I do feel like most of it was a waste of money – except the oats which look rich and divine!

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