Over the past few months my wife and myself have become huge fans of Darrell Bush’s art, and shortly after falling in love with his paintings we were happy to find out that Buffalo Games produces jigsaw puzzles based on his artwork. We bought our first one some two months ago, and when my wife finished putting it together, we were simply stunned by how vivid and realistic the minor details of the painting become when they are composed of puzzle pieces. Every log and the roof of the log house, pier boat and leaves on the trees just came to life! So we decided to frame that puzzle:
I think it turned out to into a pretty impressive item wall decor for our basement. We weren’t expecting it to turn out this way, and it was both a pleasant surprise, and a start of a hobby… Since then we bought and put together another one, and it also turned out gorgeous. We looked over the Buffalo Games selection again, and decided to purchase our last one (“Winter Bliss”), but couldn’t find it anywhere in local stores, and I turned to the Internet.
I’ve found the new puzzle at several online stores, but as I was going through the checkout process with each (ended up testing four: PuzzleWarehouse.com, PuzzlesAndBeyond.com, PuzzBuffs.com, and SeriousPuzzles.com) to find out how much shipping would cost me, I’ve bumped into something that I believe to sometimes pose a real problem that negatively affects some merchants’ conversion rates. I am referring to disclosure of full shipping and handling costs conveniently for the user. And by “conveniently” I mean by not demanding that the shopper opens an account first, entering their detailed personal information (including email, full name, full address, and making the phone number information as mandatory). This is exactly the method used by PuzzleWarehouse.com and PuzzlesAndBeyond.com.
PuzzBuffs.com (I’m giving them and the next merchant backlinks here, as they have really deserved it), on the other hand, has a convenient “Estimate Shipping” option, while SeriousPuzzles.com allow you to calculate your shipping options right within your shopping cart. Interestingly enough, in my particular situation, the merchants that did require me to open an account with them first, ended up displaying shipping costs 50% or even 100%+ higher than those that didn’t have the compulsory registration in place. Guess which two merchants I ended up choosing from…
Whatever you sell, do some competitive intelligence, and make sure you do not end up being less attractive to your customers: neither in the usability of your website, nor in the competitiveness of your offer (the first two merchants in my above example failed on both fronts). And if you are selling something that requires shipping, do not decrease your own conversion rates by demanding compulsory registration before the customer sees and agrees to the shipping cost. That contact information you will receive from them won’t be worth anything unless it is contact info of a satisfied customer.
I couldn’t find any statistics on the exact impact of non-disclosed shipping cost on the conversion rate (even though I’m positive it does affect it negatively). So if you know of any, I would certainly appreciate you sharing it in the comments area below.