What Your Online Customers Expect from You

Customers shop online for many reasons (see the preceding section to read about some of those reasons). But you need to recognize another underlying difference between real and virtual shoppers: Online customers have great expectations for your e-tail location. Sure, all customers are particular and — dare we say — demanding, but the Internet has raised the bar. It's up to you to make sure that your online store performs. In the following sections, we talk about what online customers expect of you.

Round-the-clock hours

Most customers expect your store to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Granted, meeting this need seems like a cinch. After all, after you put your site out on the Web, it's … there. Right? Unfortunately, running a store 24/7 involves a little bit more work. Your customers are used to having 100 percent access to online stores, whether it's midnight or midmorning. Here are a couple of site-related tasks that you may want to consider:

  • Customer support: Can your customers contact you in the middle of the night and expect to receive an answer? Or will prospective buyers receive help only during normal business hours? Ultimately, that's your call. But you have to decide the rules up front and then let your customers know.
  • Routine maintenance: Maintenance includes any factor from your server going down (and your store being temporarily offline) to a glitch in your payment gateway provider that may prevent credit cards from ...

Get Starting an Online Business All-in-One For Dummies®, 3rd Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.